7 Keys to Working Smarter and Being Highly Successful

After observing thousands of leaders in companies from startups to over $20B in revenue and helping create over $1 Billion in business value, I noticed one superpower in highly successful people. They worked smarter, not harder, and derive much higher results in less time than almost everyone else. These very successful leaders tended to value highly the Management Strategies and Learnings obtained through Business and Executive coaching channels.

For clarity, I deem someone to be successful if they can accomplish three times more than their peers,  have more joy and happiness, and do all of this in less time.  Now, I have to draw a line as many of us are highly ambitious, driven, and are classic workaholics. Most workaholics do not commit to reducing the hours they work and find work exhilarating. Regardless of your view, it would help if you wanted to achieve three times the results and earnings in less time. What you do with the extra time is your business.  But everyone should want to work smarter and not harder.

I am often exposed to CEOs in the same industry and have always been amazed at how varied leader’s approaches are.  To me, the right approach is the one that produces three times the results with a similar effort.  Let’s take the restoration industry.  I have met many CEOs who started their business 20 years before and are stuck at $5M in revenue or less. Also, I have met others that were in the industry for just a few years and had revenue over $5M.   I do not only find revenue disparity. I also find profit and time gaps.  While the average company earns a net profit of 5% of revenue, we have helped companies generate over 20%.  Would you rather be a $10M company that produces $500K of net profit or a $5 Million company that produces $1M in net profit?  That was a trick because you should want to be the $10 Million company generating $2 Million profit, expecting the growth and the profits.

The most successful CEOs build far larger companies, have higher growth rates, have more free time, and have 3x the net profit margin. And, yes, there are other measures of success. I want you to consider that working more hours than everyone else, regardless of what you earn, is a fool’s choice! All I want to do is challenge us to work smarter continually.

Which leads us to the big question: “How can we make it easier to achieve our success goals faster?”  How can a person make far more, achieve their intended impact, and work a lot less? Not only is this possible, but others are already doing it. After watching these leaders, I noticed they were not necessarily smarter, more creative, lack ethics, or privileged.  I have met many highly successful people, some ultra-wealthy, and found that they were formerly homeless, living in trailer parks, had no college degrees, and so on. I am sure all of us are capable of high levels of success.

Achieving success is simpler than you think but not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.  The strange part is that we are familiar with the concepts but not living them. Here are the principles you must follow to work smarter and not harder:

(1) Manage Your Thoughts

(2) Have a  Strategy

(3) Be Strategic

(4) Work a Plan

(5) Be Disciplined

(6) Resilience Rituals

(7) Build Wealth

Manage Your Thoughts

There are three dimensions to managing our thoughts: awareness, intention, and perseverance. Our mind is a potent tool. How you think will change your outcomes for better or worse. Thus you need to be aware of what you are thinking. For example, if you make up your mind that someone cannot do their job, your words and actions will differ from those based on the premise they are capable of. Your thoughts need to be congruent with your intentions. If you intend on accomplishing something and focus your thoughts on contrary purposes, you will fail. Imagine you plan to have a good day but your spend most of your day angry about something. 

Once our thoughts and intentions are in unity, we need to have perseverance. When was the last time you set out for something new and challenging, and it worked out exactly as planned? Most often, we find we run into unforeseen difficulties and roadblocks.  If you allow your mind to waiver from the finish line, you may not get there in a practical manner.

Have a Strategy

Too often, I find driven people are in constant motion. They confuse activity with productivity. When they see a problem to solve, they are off to the races.  Often leaders are solving the wrong problems or not taking the best route to solve their problems.  By doing so, you may feel better in the short term, but it could have long-term negative consequences.

I recently witnessed a senior leader get angry with a subordinate because he felt they were taking advantage of the company.  He immediately launched into attack mode and let the employee know how he felt.  While the concern was merited and the employee course-corrected, there were longer-term consequences.  You see, the leader was so busy being right that he lost one of the highest-performing people in the industry. That employee decided to quit his boss.

In the end, the leader was not strategic.  Had he been, he would have waited until he wasn’t angry and would have developed a strategy to course-correct the employee in a manner that was okay for both parties involved. Instead, he may need two people to do the work the one accomplished, and his reputation may cause other competent people not to want to work for him.

While I used a personal situation, the same goes for taking on projects, lofty goals, and conquering the competition. One thing we have all learned is that there are many ways to accomplish an objective. Being strategic requires you to consider achieving the ideal outcomes, choosing what “not” to do, using the least amount of resources, and within the desired time frame. It is usually best to consider expanding your options before choosing a path.

Work A Plan

We are working on a plan ties to being strategic.  However, the critical difference is that the strategy is the vision of where you want to go, and the action plan charts your course from beginning to end—many of us are big picture people. We can see what is possible and have a “can-do” attitude.  The problem with visionaries is they believe everything is simple and underestimate what it takes to achieve the outcome.  Taking the ball down the field is usually someone else’s problem.  To achieve grand visions, I recommend the following project management techniques:

(1) Be specific – The objective has to be clearly stated so that anyone could step in and know what needs to be done.

(2) Make it Measurable – Identify the measurable milestones and deadlines that indicate you are on track.

(3) Action Steps – Identify the action steps necessary to achieve each milestone.

(4) Monitor Progress – There must be processes and systems in place to monitor progress.

(5) Course Correct – When progress is insufficient, it is essential to revisit your plan to get back on track.

Be Disciplined

Whether you are working on getting healthy, achieving your sales goals, accomplishing a major project, it takes disciplined action.  Too often, we like the idea of the outcome but are not disciplined enough to achieve it. Think about dieting. If I eat healthily and eat the right amount of calories for three days a week but overeat unhealthy foods the other 4, it will take a lot longer (if ever) to lose the weight. Where if you ate properly every day, that takes discipline.

My brother Matt is the President of Steven Douglas, one of the fastest-growing recruiting and staffing agencies in the US.  Matt has been a top producer every year since he entered the industry almost 20 years ago.  Most people in his industry only dream of producing his revenue production.  Matt shared with me that he has hundreds of employees, and none of them produce as much as he does. Given that he is President, he spends far less time than full-time salespeople. This caused me to ask his secret. Matt has a list of 300 key contacts he calls every sixty days.  He does this by setting aside one hour daily for outbound calls.  This single disciplined activity has helped him achieve more in 5 hours a week than others can produce in 60 hours.  Successful people are willing to commit to such discipline. I have shared this technique with at least 100 people over the years, and none has had the discipline to implement it.

Resilience Rituals

The airlines taught us a very important less when they told us that we must put our oxygen masks on first before helping others. I have found that highly successful people have a regimen of activities that they use to recharge themselves.  Here are my resilience rituals:

 – 1/2 hour of daily exercise

 – 15 Minute breaks between meetings

 – 15-30 of Meditation

 – 15 Minutes of Quiet reflection

 – Spending time with friends and family

 – Take 4-6 weeks off on vacation throughout the year.

 – Monitor and control my work hours

 – Weekly Massage

It would be best to have the same level of committed discipline to your resilience rituals as your business routines.  For example, if you work out 4 hours in one day, it will not have the same effect as 1/2 hour per day.

Build Wealth

Too many of us are so busy working that we don’t spend the right amount determining how to build wealth. Every very wealthy person I met has at least three streams of significant income.  It is essential that you identify, develop, and give enough attention to your various income streams.  Most people will tell you that the most significant part of wealth came from income streams outside of their day job.  The day gave them the financial start in investing in other activities. Still, many of those activities require learning about and developing strategies and plans to develop each stream. 

In Conclusion

While you can be highly successful without practicing the above activities, it does not invalidate them.  However, by managing your thoughts, being strategic, working a plan, being disciplined, practicing resilience rituals, and building wealth consistently, you will find your path to success with less friction.  Now I challenge you to determine how to use these principles to work smarter and not harder, so you have more time to do the things that are most important to you.

 


Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, please visit his website at Activate Group Inc or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

7 Time Management Secrets that Can Make You Wealthy

Do you want to increase your earnings by 50% or more? Who wouldn’t? The challenge is how to do that and work less at the same time. Many of the ultra-wealthy in our country have figured out how to do just that. After all, the person now earning $20 million a year probably earned $200,000 or less at an earlier point in his/her career. That same person is not working a 100 times harder today. That person has learned to maximize their own productivity and to help others in their teams do the same.

There are 7 secrets to time management that can make you wealthy:

  1. Top 5 Organizational Priorities – The management team needs to agree on the top 5 most important things that must be done in the next 12 months and the next 90 days in order to achieve its goals. These goals need to be put in rank order and communicated regularly to everyone.
  2. Top 5 Personal Priorities – Each individual needs to identify their top 5 priorities as they relate to the organization’s top 5 priorities for the next 90 days and put them in rank order. The status of the priorities should be reported back on a weekly basis.
  3. Daily Task List – Each individual should have a daily task list that should be prioritized into to 2 categories: “must do” and “should do.”  The “must do” category should have no more than 5 items. To make sure the “must do” items can be realistically done that day, a person should estimate the time it will take to complete each task. Add up the time for all the “must do” tasks and all the time scheduled on the calendar. If that time exceeds 80% of the available day then it is unlikely that all of the task will be accomplished, since e-mail, phone calls and unscheduled interruptions must be taken into account in the schedule. The task list should also be compared to the individual’s “Top 5” personal priorities list to make sure that they are making steady progress and not wasting energy and time on the wrong activities.
  4. Create Weekly Goals – At the beginning of the week, decide what it is you want to accomplish by the end of the week. Determine what tasks will be necessary to complete these steps and delegate as necessary. Put an estimated time next to each task you will need to complete and block out time on your calendar to complete each task.
  5. Control Interruptions – While open door policies and responsiveness to customers are good qualities, they can backfire on you. Research tells us that every time you get interrupted, it takes 20 minutes to get back to full concentration. Allowing people to come in at any time, constantly looking at e-mail and BlackBerry, answering the phone whenever it rings, and other common habits cause executives to use 3 to 5 times more time to re-create their original levels of activity. You should create time windows where you are going to accept interruptions. Look at your schedule and identify good break points in your day in which to answer e-mail, return phone calls, and have unscheduled meetings. By getting into the habit of having discipline in these areas. you will create discipline in others. Now they will have to consolidate their questions and condense them into 5 minutes. If they need longer ask them to schedule a regular meeting.
  6. Touch it Once – Whether it is a hard copy document or e-mail, people are touching things 3 and 4 times before they do something about them. This is tremendously inefficient. The rule should be “do it”, “dump it,” “delegate it.” or “file it.” The goal at the end of the day should be to have no piles on your desk and nothing in your in box. If you accomplish this you will save a lot of time in the long run.
  7. Closed Time Management System – Whatever time management system you use, it must be closed. In other words, the same system must take into account your goals, time, tasks, and notes. If your keep these items in different systems you will likely have alignment problems, and important items will slip through the cracks.

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Fighting Time!

Do you feel you’re in a constant battle with time? Does time seem to be winning, no matter which technology, process, and system one uses? While the amount of time in a day, week and year remains the same, people are attempting to fit more commitments into the same finite time spans. After many years of observing and working with senior management, I have found a fundamental flaw in how they approach time. This flaw causes significant bottlenecks in their companies. Worse, their poor leadership regarding time strategies causes others to have problems with time.

An example of the above is a company that never has time to create clear business plans. There are no clear specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based (SMART) goals for the overall organization and for each executive. As a result, the organization spends far more time than necessary reconciling their lack of integration and problems.

Typically this company has positions open for a year or more for lack of time to establish and perfect their hiring process. Consequently, current employees work significant overtime, mistakes in product development occur, sales returns happen, company reputation is damaged, employee productivity decreases, and people burn out. Lacking the training or the experience to hire well, they often take much longer than necessary to get good candidates and attract a smaller pool of good candidates than they should and could. Once it is time to choose a candidate, their process is so broken they fail to select an “A” player for the position. For a year, I suggested a solution to this problem that would involve approximately ½ a day of training for the management team and the head of human resources. The answer, “we do not have time” has come up each time. So goes the vicious circle.

Companies must narrow priorities to get to the root of “what is eating time to begin with.” CEOs have to be the most effective when it comes to setting priorities for themselves and the organization. When they fail, they become a huge bottleneck for the rest of the organization. Lack of prioritization and clarity at the top will kill your organization. This same discipline of prioritization has to be developed and aligned at every level. Without it, effective use of time is destroyed.

Here is a set of questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the 5 most important goals of my company, and which is the top 1 of those 5?
  • What are the 5 most important tasks I can do today to help move those 5 most important goals forward?
  • Am I working on those 5 tasks?
  • What are you doing that does not relate, and how can you stop immediately?
  • What can you do to help accelerate the top 5 goals of the company?
  • If you have more than 5 priorities, who can help you whittle that list down to no more than 5? Or how can you delay some of the other goals so that there are no more than 5 on your plate now.
  • What is your number 1 priority now? How can you accelerate its completion?

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Have Your Goals and Achieve Them Too!

You see it every day in your daily lives and particularly at year-end, with all of the New Year resolutions and business plans. Next year you are going to do all of those things you have never done, and more. Or maybe you just want to get back to where you used to be. You set goals for some really important reasons:

  • Keep you on target
  • Make better decisions
  • Keep you focused
  • Increase self-motivation
  • Develop self-confidence
  • How many goals do you have going right now?
  • How have the anticipated rewards influenced your progress (or lack thereof)?
  • Are all of your goals planned out fully? What difference might it make?
  • How do you know if you really are going to achieve those goals?

Here is a quick quiz to see if you are on track:

  • Do I state my goals in a way that tells exactly what will be achieved and by when?
  • Are my goals measurable in a way that I will know whether they are achieved or not?
  • Do I set goals that are attainable and are not designed to stretch to some level below that goal?
  • Are my goals set realistically high so that they require some sort of behavior change?
  • Do all my goals have a definite target date for completion?
  • Do I evaluate my goals to make sure that I do not have too many goals?
  • Have I taken the time to prioritize my goals?
  • Have I written down all of my goals?
  • Do all the people who contribute to my goals know exactly what the goals are and how they contribute to them?
  • Have I thought through in advance and considered all the detailed steps that it will take to complete my goal?

The answer to every question above should always be yes whether it is a personal or professional goal. For every question you answered as “no,” you can probably drop your goal success rate downward by at least 20%. Do not try to put more importance on any one of these items as that would be like building the engine of your car or baking a cake and saying one part or ingredient is more important than the other. The reality is that if one part or ingredient is missing, your car will probably not start or your cake will be inedible.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of some of the critical factors that can help you increase your goal success rate to over 90%. There are too many factors to cover in this article so my aim is to clarify some of the top (key) points.

There are a lot of things you do (consciously or subconsciously) to achieve or not to achieve your goals. although I would agree that outside circumstance can play a role in goal achievement. If you are honest with yourself, when you fail to achieve a goal, whether it’s more sales, customer retention, employee retention, or something personal like weight loss, success or failure is more dependent on the goal-setter than on outside influences.

Commitment

I always get a funny look when I discuss this issue with clients and friends. Many people think that because they made a decision, they made a commitment. This could be the farthest from the truth. Actually, the hardest decisions oftentimes have the weakest commitments, particularly the larger the group size.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? More than a year is spent thinking about something, maybe even a committee is created to evaluate it, consultants are hired, friends and colleagues conferred with, money is spent for market research, and finally an affirmative decision is made. The project, system, process, or other decision is placed into action, and all of a sudden the inevitable happens – problems arise, big problems, little problems, and problems disguised as attitudes.

What happens to most people’s level of commitment when faced with these problems? Rather than solving the problems, they ignore all of the thought that went into making the decision and allow emotion to take over. Their commitment to the decision it took them a year to make crumbles, and with it the chance of following through on the decision.

IF YOU MAKE A DECISION, MAKE A COMMITMENT!

Smarty Goals

The first step in setting goals is to establish a SMART goal that is stated positively. As alluded to in the Quiz, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically high, and Time-based. However, one often-overlooked item is the goal must be Yours. While this criterion seems simple, it is actually not easy in execution. If it were, everyone would achieve a lot more goals. Very briefly, let us discuss what each of these criteria really means:

  • Specific – You say exactly what it is you are going to do. Hazy goals are doomed to failure. For example, we are going to establish a new training program for our supervisors by 10/1/XX. You are not defining what you want to train them to do.
  • Measurable – The goal must be stated in a way so that you can definitely know whether it has been achieved. In addition, you should be able to see if the trend is negative in order to modify your detailed action steps accordingly. For example, we are going to increase the frequency of meetings with our hourly staff. How many additional meetings would you consider acceptable? What purpose would these meetings serve?
  • Attainable and Realistically High – Goals should have sufficient rewards and/or consequences to be motivational, and they must be attainable. If it appears that your goal will not require any kind of behavior change, challenge yourself to make sure that it does. Either the goal is too low, or you are not being realistic about what it will take to get there. The reality is you have set it as a goal because you are not already doing it, and the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”
  • Time Based – When do you want this goal completed by? Be honest, are there goals you have talked about for years that are still on your goal list? It is probably because you have not committed to a deadline.

The following is an example of a SMART goal:

  • Get 10 appointments by the end of this quarter with decision-makers in the hospitality industry within 50 miles of the Miami area whose companies employ more than 250 people

Write your goals down and broadcast them!

It is not unusual to meet people that have goals about which nobody knows. Even worse, they may not be written down anywhere. In personal or organizational circumstances it is always best to write your goals down for the following reasons:

  • It strengthens commitment.
  • Unwritten goals change unconsciously.
  • It rounds out your thought process and gives you an opportunity to think things through.
  • It provides a means to communicate to everyone who is responsible for execution.

If you have goals and they are not communicated succinctly to everyone who is responsible for doing what it takes to get to where you want to go, what is the likelihood they are going to do it? People like to have purpose and know where they are going. We use goals to focus individuals and organizations in the same direction. When we achieve goals, it increases energy, and that has a positive impact on results, thus further increasing energy, increasing focus on goals, increasing results, increasing energy, and so on. It is that simple!

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

If time is money, how big are your savings?

Since the beginning of time, we have been a population preoccupied with the concept of time. Unfortunately the term “Time management” creates a false impression of what a person is able to do. Time can’t be managed and is uncontrollable. However, we can manage ourselves and choose how we use time.

We measure daily activities, progress, even distances in terms of days, hours, or minutes.  Most important, we think of money in terms of time. “Time is money” is a phrase often heard in the business world. Our job productivity is often related to the time consumed in performing specific tasks. In many businesses, compensation and services are paid for in terms of rates per hour.

Do you use time, or does it use you? Do you stay on top of things, or do they stay on top of you? To a very large degree, your success will depend on whether or not you master the art of effective time organization. However, time management is a skill few people master and is one that most people need. If you really want to improve the use of your time and your productivity and at the same time feel good and effective, you should start by building a strategy around your time, evaluating your current behaviors and habits.

Time management is a skill, a technique, a mindset, and a lifestyle. It can be adopted by anyone who wants to:

  • Feel in more control
  • Attain more out of life
  • Reduce stress
  • Realize more balance in life
  • Achieve success in business

To use your time successfully you must first accomplish what is most important for you. When you don’t accomplish what you truly want, you may feel confused, compromised, and frustrated. Many people try to use time management techniques that work for others, only to be disappointed. It does not matter if you use a paper-based system, a PDA, or one of those expensive mobile devices. What really matters is that you are using a system that makes you effective.

Myths About Time Management

Some of the myths related to time management use are a direct consequence of our attitudes. Our attitudes are developed through a conditioning process that began very early in life. As you examine your past and the future, you will develop a much better understanding of why you do the things you do. Let’s take a look at some myths related to time:

MYTH: My life is completely controlled by external events.

FACT: You can have some control over many aspects of your life, but you and you alone are responsible for initiating that control.

MYTH: I should meet everyone’s expectations.

FACT: The needs and demands of others may be inappropriate for you and your lifestyle. First, become clear about what your own needs are. Then, consider what others expect of you.

MYTH: I should have no limits.

FACT: We all have limits …. failure to acknowledge this may cause you to become perfectionistic in your expectations. Perfectionism normally leads to procrastination.

MYTH: I do not have time

FACT: You need a time strategy.

Common Time-Wasters That Need To Be Identified

In order for a time management process to work, it is important to know what aspects of our personal management habits need to be improved. Below you will find some of the most frequent reasons for reducing effectiveness in the workplace. Identify the ones that are major obstacles to your effective use of your time. Identifying your time stealers:

  • Interruptions – telephone
  • Interruptions – personal visitors
  • Meetings
  • Tasks you should have delegated
  • Procrastination and indecision (see my article “The Habit of Doing Nothing)
  • Acting with incomplete information
  • Dealing with team members
  • Crisis management (fighting fires)
  • Unclear communication
  • Inadequate technical knowledge
  • Unclear objectives and priorities
  • Lack of planning
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Inability to say “No”
  • Desk management and personal disorganization

Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to manage your time, be more in control and reduce stress. You can analyze your time to see how you may be both the cause and the solution to your time challenges.

There are many ways we can manage our time more effectively. The following is list of some strategies you can use:

  1. Put your daily plans in writing.
  2. Plan your daily time use by listing your activities in order of their priority.
  3. Delegate.
  4. Be selective.
  5. Make brief notes immediately following a conference, meeting, or an important conversation.
  6. Keep simple records regarding the routine of your daily life.
  7. Schedule a quiet time – and use it.
  8. Use waiting time wisely.
  9. Keep your work area uncluttered and free of distractions.
  10. Keep incoming “Junk mail” to a minimum.

Using your time is your responsibility and is controllable if you choose to do so. The degree of your commitment to achieve personal goals will determine how serious you are about setting priorities for your time.

As an Executive Coach, I help individuals and organizations develop better attitudes more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. I work with my clients in all areas, including business, career, finances, time management, productivity, employee motivation, and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.

If you wish to explore deeper into the subjects contained in this article, please call Activate Group at [phone link=”true”] or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Management and Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation.

Proper Time Management Earns Trust and Success

If you are regularly rescheduling, canceling, missing, or late to meetings you must read this article. Keeping your time commitments is a success secret that I share with every client. However, many do not take it seriously at first. They find it hard to accept that time management provides such a big opportunity. This is particularly true in Miami, where being late and canceling meetings is an epidemic of grave proportions.

Resistance notwithstanding, time management is a concept that is basic and simple to apply, and the positive results are astronomical. Whether you are in sales, management, or working your way up the ladder, being on time and keeping your meetings can be a goldmine. I have had clients partially apply this secret and the results are automatic. Interested? Then read on!

The real problem it that is difficult to isolate and quantify the direct and indirect costs of canceling or rescheduling meetings, being late, or missing meetings. The culprits always justify their actions with comments such as:

  • My biggest customer needed me.
  • An emergency had to be dealt with.
  • I had too many phone calls/e-mails to return.
  • Another matter was more important.
  • Traffic was bad.
  • The other meeting ran too long.

Regardless of what people tell you, if you are late for meetings by more than 5 minutes twice a week, reschedule or cancel meetings more than twice week, or miss meetings twice a month, you can be more successful by improving your time management. The comments above may be reasonable responses on occasion, but, in most cases, they are excuses for not being responsible, and they are costing you something even if you cannot isolate and measure the cost.

Think about your own experience. What are your true thoughts about someone who is late? When your doctor keeps you waiting for 45 minutes, are you happy when he finally sees you? Does he seem more qualified, somehow better than other doctors, worth paying more to see? Is this someone you would want to refer to a friend, invite over for dinner, do a special favor for, or maybe work until midnight for? Of course not! Amazingly, though, as bosses you somehow think it is okay to make your employees stand outside your office for 20 minutes while you take a phone call, or have them wait in the conference room until you’re ready, ask them to cancel meetings to accommodate yours, and so on. But you were tending to your biggest customer, so they should understand. Right?

I use a method in my coaching to educate my time-challenged clients on the importance of keeping appointments. If they do not give me 48 hours notice before cancellation, they pay me a large fee for meeting cancellation. This is done to help my clients realize that every time they cancel a meeting, whether it is with me or with someone else, and there is less than 48 hours notice, there is a cost to every person involved in the meeting and those around them. For those of you who think I do this for revenue, less than 10% of my clients ever pay even one late fee, and only two clients have ever paid more than one.

What does canceling meetings have to do with trustworthiness? As I coach salespeople, I have to help them with the first step in the buying process, which is to get the prospect to “buy” the salesperson. If the buyer does not trust the salesperson, it will likely not matter how good the company or its products are. The salesperson will go home without a sale. If the salesperson does not show up on time, it lowers trust.

Well folks, everyone is in sales. We are selling to employees, bosses, boards of directors, shareholders, children, customers, vendors, and so on. If you are on time and keep your meetings with someone, you help earn trust, which in turn helps earn power with someone, and then the sales process has a chance of happening. On the other hand, if you cancel meetings, make people wait, show up late, and constantly reschedule, you lose their trust. You lose power with that person, and there is no deal. It is that simple!

Even better than being on time, I propose that everyone start living on the “15 Minutes Early Plan.” Have you ever noticed that when you arrive at someone’s office to have a meeting, that is when they start preparing for your meeting? This is especially true if you are in sales. The prospect is never ready, so by getting there just in time, you lose at least 10 minutes of your allotted time. Arriving early usually gets you 10 more minutes of productive time. And if the prospect is someone really important (like the CEO), it might be weeks or months before you get “face-time” again, so those are 10 big minutes.

Another benefit of the “15 Minutes Early Plan” is to lower the impact of road rage from the horrible traffic in Miami and South Florida. Estimating a just-in-time arrival takes PhDs in geography, quantum physics, and mathematics, and a lot of luck. By planning to be 15 minutes early, you can bring less stress to your meeting and your life.

Even if you do not have to drive, it is just no fun to rush around. It is nice to have a few minutes between meetings to have a glass of water, call your significant other to say hello, or take a few deep breaths before running to the next meeting. You will find that you get more done, and your input will be much better.

As I’ve already mentioned, all of this is linked to success. What is meant by success? Success is defined by the individual, and typically defined in terms of money, friends, possessions, colleagues, status, power, prestige, customer satisfaction, strong family, etc. At the end of the day, I leave it to you to find your definition of success. Master your use of time, and you will have more of it to enjoy your success.

Review our website at to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Remove Distractions to Ignite Sales Growth – Part 1

For a time, I attached the following quotation to my e-mails: “Never confuse activity with results.” (Lou Gerstner, CEO of IBM) While this applies to every person in your company, today I am going to focus on the sales force. During the last 7 years I have met and worked with hundreds of Chief Executive Officers. Regardless of whether their sales growth was high or low, many of them had the potential to double and triple that growth. The scary part is that most of them did not know it.

The most common thief of sales growth is distraction. Based on my experience, I estimate that on average, employees lose 40% of their time to distractions. This number ranges between 30% and 60%, depending on the company they work for, and can reach as high as 70%, depending on the individual. Distractions can be classified into two types: 1) leadership and organization; and 2) individual-specific. The leadership and organization distractions can be categorized into poor sales support, customer service mishaps, products that do not meet client needs, bad sales management, and poor communications. “Individual-specific” distractions refer to daily mental or situational conditions faced by the salesperson.

Part I deals with leadership and organization because these have a more dramatic impact on growth than most companies realize. Most companies’ systems and processes do not allow their salespeople to run at full stride, and in many cases hold them back. What is your senior management team doing to help remove distractions that interfere with the performance of your sales force? You should be holding weekly meetings to address the issues, and here are a few of the questions that need to be answered:

  • What product issues regularly come up that your salespeople have to continually address?
  • What customer service and account maintenance issues do your salespeople regularly deal with that you can assign to someone else so your salespeople can spend more time qualifying, hunting, and closing?
  • When you listen to your salespeople, can you identify some of the personal biases that affect their sales performance and could be remedied through coaching?
  • Does your compensation system motivate your salespeople, or is it a distraction?
  • Which of your people were hiring mistakes and are taking too much time to manage?
  • Is your sales manager demotivating your salespeople, and is he/she a good manager?
  • Does your sales manager spend at least 80% of the time managing, and, within that 80%, is the right amount spent coaching, motivating, holding salespeople accountable, and recruiting new salespeople?

Ultimately, your organizational processes and systems need to be established in such a way that you hire, develop, and support top performers. Success can grow dramatically by removing distractions and keeping your salespeople focused on selling. I find that many organizations unwittingly do the opposite, thus compromising growth. While we cannot win every sale, every minute spent by a salesperson on a distraction is a guaranteed no sale. Please stay tuned for part two of this article which will focus on the “individual-specific” distractions that affect your salespeople.

Review our website to understand how an executive or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Seven Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Productivity

“I never have time to finish all my tasks.” “I wish the day would last 30 hours.”  Those are common expressions I’ve heard from my prospects before we start a growth discovery development process.

These days we are under more time pressure than ever. We have new electronic gadgets to provide us with “real time” information (e-mail, instant messenger, task bars, calendars, GPS, etc) and open a world of input in front of us. We buy those gadgets to make our lives easier, but sometimes what we try do is to live our live faster.

In order to release the time pressure and get more benefit from our use of time, here are 7 simple ways to be more productive with less effort:

  1. Clear your head. It’s not easy to gain the right perspective, to know what is important and what it is not, if we spend most of our day in the middle of an information stream. Take an hour, two if possible, to shut off the information flow. You will have the opportunity to get a better view of your life and your job. The time you “take off” will be well worth it. Tell everyone that you are unavailable, shut off all your gadgets, shut yourself in somewhere private, and take some time to think about what is important and what is not. What are your goals? Where are you going? What will it take to get there?
  2. Concentrate on what is important. Once you have your head cleared, you need to figure out your priorities. Ask yourself this question: “What task can I do that will get me the most return on my time investment?” Think about the project that will get you the most recognition, or will help you to increase your business.  Make a list of these types of tasks — they are your most important priorities.
  3. Get rid of what is not important. Now look at your list. What’s on there that’s not essential? Can you just drop those items from your schedule? Or delegate them to someone else? If not, put them on a “to do” list. Then, as you focus on your essential tasks, check back on that list every now and then. Sometimes you’ll realize that the less essential tasks were not really necessary at all.
  4. Do what is really important first. If you have a list of things to do today, and one or two of them are truly essential, do those items first thing in the morning. Don’t wait until later in the day. Get them out of the way, and your productivity will speed up.
  5. Keep it simple. Do not move around with a bunch of gadgets or the latest and coolest applications. Find a simple notebook for writing things down, a simple to-do list (no frills) and the simplest application possible for doing your work. Then forget about the tools and think only of the task at hand. If you are too worried about the tools, you’re not actually doing anything.
  6. Do one thing at a time. Most of the time multi-tasking is a waste of time. You cannot get things done when you have a million things pulling for your attention. Focus on the essential task in front of you, to the exclusion of all else, and you are much more likely to get it completed, in less time, with less effort.
  7. Simplify some more. Once you have created your priorities, identified your essential tasks, and eliminated distractions, you should become productive. Every now and then, take a look at what you’re doing, at the information coming into your life, at how you spend your time and the tools you use. Then simplify some more.

At Activate Group we help clients achieve quick, efficient and profitable growth through the easy implementation of proven methods. For more information, please contact us at [phone link=”true”] or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

Seven Steps to Delegating for Results

Have you ever noticed that great leaders are also excellent delegators? Delegation saves time, develops and motivates people, and makes an organization more productive. Therefore, it is fair to say that this is one of the most critical skills for any leader or manager to acquire. For this reason, I encourage every leader to become a master delegator.

On the surface this seems like an easy task. Give your work to someone else; sounds nice, doesn’t it? So why are so many leaders so reluctant to delegate? And when they do, why do so many leaders delegate so poorly?

The problem is that many leaders have acquired the skill of delegation through on-the-job learning. There is no course in school and only minimal reference to delegation in textbooks at school. Delegation is not easy and is a process that has a sequence of steps. Like any process, if you miss a step, it does not work properly

There are Seven Steps in the Delegation Process

1.Defining What to Delegate

There are really three reasons to delegate work: to better control our use of time, to build our people, or to motivate our people. So the first question you will need to answer is: why are you delegating? When looking through these three lenses, we usually find a reason to assign most of the work on our desks to others. The higher you are in the organization, the more your role should be growing and developing the organization and less “doing.” Delegation is the primary tool!

2. Selecting the Individual or Team

Too often leaders go to the same people over and over again. They get too comfortable with specific individuals or teams. This is usually a mistake as it demotivates other team members in the organization and may even compromise the performance of your “A” team. That “A” team usually depends on support from the rest of the organization to get things done. Silos form in the organization, and this prevents the entire organization from coming together to its fullest potential.
While I think we should always give our most important projects to our best players, we need to involve and delegate to the entire team at some point. With each person, consider why you are delegating (motivation, growth, or time management) a task, and match the appropriate tasks to that person’s capabilities.

3. Assess Appropriate Level of Delegation

Typically, leaders delegate using the same style for every person on their team and this is a mistake. The level of delegation should be adjusted based on the task and the person being delegated to. Delegation is not just telling people what to do and expecting them to do it. There are many different degrees of supervision and involvement required of the person who is delegating the task. The more experienced and reliable the other person is, the more freedom you can give. The more critical the task, the more cautious you need to be about extending a lot of freedom, especially if the company’s financial future or reputation is on the line.

4.Communicate Tasks In Specific Terms

This is where most delegation fails. Many leaders and managers do not do a good job of expressing what they want. People are not mind-readers. Many hours have been wasted doing re-work because leaders failed to explain what they wanted up front.
If you want something done a specific way, tell them. If you are not clear about what you want, take the time to brainstorm with your colleague before they start working. Employees find it frustrating and get demotivated when they feel like lab rats or are spinning their wheels.

5.State Measurable Results

Explain how a task fits into the overall organizational picture, describe the measurable results you are looking for, and let them know how you will rate their performance.

6. Agree on Deadlines

The deadline is the most underappreciated part of delegation. Too many leaders give people tasks without asking what else they have on their “to do” list. This is a motivation killer.  Not only is it disrespectful to the recipient, it is disrespectful to anyone who is depending on the person you just delegated to. Most people are trained to never say “no.” They have been wired to say “yes,” even when they know they already have too much on their plate. Often, the delegator already knows this, but chooses to take the position of “not my problem,” which in the long run destroys trust and respect for the delegator and decreases employee morale, organizational productivity, and profitability.
When you delegate a task, you must sit with the person you are delegating to and make sure that realistic deadlines are being created. It is your job as the delegator to help your people be successful and not set them up for failure. If you are delegating to someone who has a history of over-committing, it is important to help reconcile commitments to make sure that the most important things get done first.

7. Follow-up and Feedback

It is essential that you have a feedback system in place so that you know that things are on track. Provide support should your delegatee need help in getting the task accomplished. It is essential to let the person know how they are doing and whether they did a good job. In the end, you should take the blame for failure and pass on the credit for success.

Delegation is one of the most important tasks as a leader. When done correctly, it develops your succession, increases your personal productivity, and motivates your people. Many leaders develop excuses not to delegate that include: they can do things faster themselves; they like doing things themselves; their people are not ready. These excuses and others all have short-term benefits but long-term adverse consequences. However, the investment in delegation is usually worth the positive long-term benefits.

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

State Your Goals the SMART Way

The first step in successfully executing a goal is to state it properly. You know your goal is well stated when anyone who reads it knows exactly what you are trying to accomplish and in what time frame. The better a person states the goal, the easier it is to create the action plan. An acronym commonly used for stating a goal properly is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically high, and Time-based).

While these criteria seem simple, they are actually not easily achieved. If they were, everyone would be reaching a lot more of their goals. Very briefly, let us discuss what each of these criteria really means:

  • Specific – You say exactly what it is you want to do. Hazy goals are doomed to failure. For example, “We are going to establish a new training program for our supervisors by 10/1/XX.” You are not defining what you want to train them to do.
  • Measurable – The goal must be stated in a way that allows you to definitely know whether it has been achieved. In addition, you should be able to see whether the trend is negative so that you can modify your detailed action steps accordingly. For example, “We are going to increase the frequency of meetings with our hourly staff.” How often would you consider acceptable, and what do you want to communicate about?
  • Attainable and Realistically High – Goals must be lofty enough so we do not trip over them. If the goal is too low it will not stimulate anyone to put forth extra effort. On the other hand, if the goal is unrealistic no one will take it seriously.
  • Time-Based – When do you want this goal completed by? Be honest, are there goals you have talked about for years that are still on your to-do list? It is probably because you have not committed to a deadline.

The following is and example of a SMART goal:

  • Get 10 appointments with decision-makers in the hospitality industry that employ more than 250 people and are located within 50 miles of Miami area by the end of the quarter.

Once you have stated your goal in a manner that meets all of the SMART criteria, you then need to consider whether they achieve WAY (Written, Aligned, and Yours).

It is not unusual to meet people who have goals they have not communicated to anyone. Even worse, they may not be written down anywhere. In personal and organizational circumstances, it is always best to write your goals down for the following reasons:

  • Helps clarify your thinking
  • Keeps your goal from unconsciously being altered
  • Helps strengthen commitment
  • Simplifies the communication process
  • Provides a framework for measurement
  • Allows you to compare them to other goals

A common reason goals do not get achieved or take longer than expected is improper alignment. Goals may not be aligned for reasons that include:

  • Creation by separate people or departments
  • Failure to consolidate goals in one place to review congruence
  • In our desire to be optimistic, we are unrealistic
  • Incomplete or nonexistent action plans that underestimate what it will take to achieve our goal.
  • Failure to prioritize goals, thus giving them all equal priority.

Lastly, if a goal is yours, it is much more likely that you will be internally motivated to achieve it. It is hard to get excited about somebody else’s goals. This is primarily due to the fact that most people act based on their own self interest.

If you have goals that are not communicated succinctly to everyone, who is responsible for accomplishing each part of the plan, and what is the likelihood they are going to do it? People like to have purpose and know where they are going. We use goals to focus individuals and organizations in the same direction. When we achieve goals, it increases energy, which has a positive impact on results, thus further increasing energy, increasing focus on goals, increasing results, increasing energy, and so on. It is that simple!

If you want to achieve more goals, make sure that you state them in a SMART WAY! Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation, Mohnton, PA