The Ultimate Productivity Hack

August 19th, 2015

Bad day at the officeThis is something you do not want to hear. It’s the opposite of human nature. It is anti-happiness. The only thing good about it? It’s the truth about productivity

The ultimate productivity hack is sticking to a very boring routine. A life filled – at least for a short time – with almost no variety. No choices. No novelty.

Happiness has been dissected by the experts. Novel, fun experiences create happiness. So the highest level of productivity comes down to eschewing anything that is new and exciting.

The anti-happiness regimen is largely about removing any variety, any distraction and any fun for a period of time. That time is when you are able to fully engage in whatever your work or project demands.

I can hear the life balance people moaning.

Take heart. This is not a prescription for living your life. It is the prescription for getting something done rapidly, with the full force of your intelligence and imagination.

How many times in your life do you need to be ultra productive? It depends on your life, your desired ultimate outcome and your ability to pledge allegiance to a burning desire. Without a burning desire, this won’t work.

I just finished writing my third book. It took 32 edits. It is– as each book has been – my life’s work for a period of time. It – like the other books – aren’t my whole story. I work. I teach. I coach. I speak.

Oh yes, and I live. Bathe. Dress. Drive. Work. Teach. Coach. Speak. But mostly I WRITE. READ. EDIT. REVISE. And repeat. (You get the idea.)

The secret of the ultimate productivity hack is to put everything possible on auto-pilot. At the simplest level, I start with what I eat. I make something I call my “writer’s mix.” It is turkey, Brussels sprouts, spinach, carrots, and a huge volume of turmeric and chile paste.

I eat it three times a day. I start out with a huge stewing pot of this stuff. Then, for breakfast, lunch and dinner: I eat it. The goal is simple: no joy of eating. I start out hungry. I eat the mix. I am full.

I do the same with every other task in my life, while I am writing and editing. I do my social media interactions every three hours. I pick up my email while I’m eating. I walk my dogs for an hour, during twilight so it’s cool enough for them and the right time to clear my head. I don’t hibernate nor am I rigid. I went to a wedding of a dear friend last Friday evening. I met another dear friend for lunch on Sunday afternoon. So, part of the routine is two times over a weekend, I have three hours with people I know well and adore.

There’s a religious text with a passage about there being a time for everything. When you have a project that must be done and have a life that must be folded in around it: this is the time for being focused on your purpose.

Promise yourself, you will be happy. Later. For now: set up the rules, routines, rituals and habits that protect you from distraction, confusion, choices and decision-making.

The more boring your life is the better, when it comes to being super successful at getting something important done. Need some tips on setting up your routine? Email me at Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Productivity.

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Top Ten Traits of Creative Leaders

August 12th, 2015

40254041_sCreativity, innovation and adaptability are the hallmarks of today’s best leaders. Not CEOs mind you, leaders. Don’t confuse a title like CEO with the reality that most of us will lead from the back of the pack, or somewhere in the middle.

Creativity is a calling. Innovation is a burning desire. Adaptability is personal trait.

CEO, COO, president and general manager are just job titles.

Most top officers find it difficult to be creative. There are too many responsibilities and constituencies to look after. Focusing on squeezing out profit every 12 weeks. Cutting costs to keep shareholders happy. When you are watching your back, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road ahead.

A job title does not imbue the individual with courage or charisma. Those are personal traits. Creativity takes many forms, so don’t count yourself out because you are in accounting, operations, human resources, logistics, project management or any other field or specialty.

Employees, consultants, coaches, freelancers and suppliers: the opportunity to transform an organization (and with that your own career) is yours for the doing.

How do you start? It helps to hold a deep affection for your company and clients, since creativity is a gift you give. Think about the impact your company could have and the growth your clients could enjoy.

Creative leadership makes your job more meaningful and gives you visibility. Do something small at first – deliver a project early, come up with alternative courses of action, and whenever possible deliver unexpected added value. A bit of qualitative research or sentiment analysis (collecting comments made on forums or social media) is a good example of providing new perspectives that lead to new solutions.

David Ogilvy, one of the original Mad Men, a real ad man, espoused ten qualities he saw in creative leaders. They are:

  1. High standards of personal ethics.
  2. Big people, without pettiness.
  3. Guts under pressure, resilience in defeat.
  4. Brilliant brains — not safe plodders.
  5. A capacity for hard work and midnight oil.
  6. Charisma — charm and persuasiveness.
  7. A streak of unorthodoxy — creative innovators.
  8. The courage to make tough decisions.
  9. Inspiring enthusiasts — with trust and gusto.
  10. A sense of humor.

Do you want to increase the reality of possibilities in your career or business? Then pick one of these qualities each week for the next ten weeks. Find every way you can to demonstrate the quality you’re working on. Add them up and in ten weeks you will have transformed yourself, and perhaps the organization and clients you serve.

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The Most Successful Job Interview Tactic

August 5th, 2015

42033419_sHaving coached the full range of job seekers, from entry-level candidates to C-suite executives, I learned the one job interview tactic that makes the difference between success and failure. This same tactic works for coaches and consultants who want to build a larger practice, secure more clients and do it more quickly.

The true genius of this tactic comes from Anthony Parinello, the author of the best-selling book Selling to VITO: The Very Important Top Officer. Tony has written about this technique as the foundation of successful selling to executives at the top of their organizations. If you don’t know Tony’s work, go to http://www.vitoselling.com – and grab the free download and enjoy meeting this world-class sales trainer.

There’s a profound similarity between selling to CEOs and interviewing for a job. The same fundamental truth is key for building your professional practice. The common thread between selling and interviewing is this.

Who you think YOU ARE is the key to success (or failure).

Success is not in the hands of the person with whom you are speaking, nor is it in the product, service or skill set you believe you represent.

Per the Carnegie Institute of Technology, 85% of the decision to hire you is based on your personal traits. Only 15% of the decision is based on your skills, experience or proof that what you do is better than other people who are competing for the position.

How does the interview or potential client learn about or experience your personal traits? Largely through how they see you relate to yourself.

Self-respect, self-worth and a self-positive attitude are what you must convey in an interview. Why?

Your attitude about yourself is like a cold. It’s contagious.

If you believe you that you are lucky to have the interview, you are likely to lose the job or the deal. If you believe the recruiter, hiring manager or prospective client is lucky to have the interview: you are likely to lose the job or the deal.

If you see the interview as a meeting of two people with equal business stature – you are going to succeed.

Of course this does not mean that you can do the same work as your interviewer or prospect. Why would they need you to do that?

Equal business stature simply means you share the same profound interest in successfully accomplishing the goals of the job. It means you are someone who is bringing a solution-oriented mindset, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and commitment.

See the next interview you have as an exchange of like-minded people, equally interested in addressing the challenges of the position that needs to be filled. Don’t court, cajole, or toady; don’t undersell or overpromise.

Show up ready to engage in a business conversation, where your focus is on the problems that need to be solved – not simply on what you have or haven’t done in the past.

Simply put: show up ready to engage with clarity and confidence.

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How to Reduce Stress and Avoid Burnout

July 29th, 2015

23723300_sI had the unfortunate experience of reading a list of the top stressors in human life. You may have seen that list. Death of a loved one, divorce, losing a friend, major illness, moving, caregiving … the usual suspects. Then, thanks to grazing on brainpickings.org, I discovered the link between unrelenting stress and the deleterious effect on your memory, physical well-being and emotional stability. What a bummer. All bad news.

Well, there was a bit of good news. In the moment, a sudden stressor shuts down any unnecessary bodily function so the organs, systems and limbs you need get fully funded by your central nervous system. Plus they get first priority on blood flow and other physiological processes.

That’s why the caveman wasn’t standing at the sink eating a sandwich when the saber tooth tiger roared outside the opening of his cave. Caveman was suddenly in the mood to flee, or if necessary, fend off the beast. He got super focused in a hurry. Tunnel vision. Got his priorities in order.

The occasional rush deadline or your boss screaming about a missed delivery isn’t in that league of stressor. Most of us turn a blind eye, a deaf ear, or claim we were hacked so we didn’t get that email.

It’s when unrelenting problems meet unsympathetic responses that stress tears you down. It’s physiological, not a character issue. It’s your chemicals: hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal hormones that over time cause inflammation in the oddest places. Arthritis, colds, migraines … almost any ailment you can imagine may be triggered by stress.

So that creates more stress. Unmitigated, ongoing stress leads to a kind of numbness. We call that burnout.

The cure doesn’t seem obvious. “Gutting through it” isn’t a long term strategy. Running away isn’t always possible.

Probably the least obvious stress reliever is helping someone else. We’ve known for a long time that altruism benefits the giver more than the receiver. There is something about doing service for someone who could use your help that breathes new life into your worn out soul.

Maybe it’s walking shelter dogs. Lending your couch to someone who is temporarily displaced. Washing your roommate’s dishes. Reconciling a checkbook, doing the weekly shop or whatever else you can for a disabled or elderly neighbor.

Giving the gift of yourself reminds you that you are a gift.

Don’t do the old “give ‘til it hurts.”

Think: If it hurts, give.

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Eliminate Excruciating Problems Fast With 1 Simple Rhyme

July 22nd, 2015

39788261_sYou know how badly you need some go-to life hacks that really work.

We all do. We need super effective strategies that don’t involve buying one more app, signing up for a new dashboard or watching instructions on YouTube.

You certainly don’t need to be touted about TaskRabbit or Fiverr or any of these so-called insta-help services, because they actually involve a ton of communication and constant checking up. You can quit pretending that a stranger is somehow committed to your success for the princely sum of 5 bucks.

I have coached people through a tidal wave of their worst problems. Some of them were involved in hundreds of micro-projects because big success is often a process of taking countless small steps.

What’s worse at this time in your life? You don’t have an abundance of anything. You don’t have a lot of space, money, time or support.

You are beginning to feel a weird kinship with whomever said, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

You ARE doing most everything yourself. It’s the way work is set up now. You and everyone else are supposed to do more with less. That means less of you to do more of anything.

It’s like you are no longer a person, but more like a self-cleaning oven. You’re pressured to make it, bake it and clean it up fast. Then: next!

So I assembled one simple set of 11 rhyming words that can instantly cue an abundance of solutions.

These words stand in for heavy lifting like: project management, increased productivity, people skills, and perfected processes.

Whatever is stopping you cold or making you pull out your hair, see if any of these words lead you to a fast way past a problem you’re stuck on.

1. Mending (making a quick fix)

2. Sending (getting it off your desk)

3. Depending (on someone else to handle)

4. Lending (or borrowing)

5. Bending (think rules or “normal” ways of doing things)

6. Fending (off and avoiding certain people entirely)

7. Pending (leaving open to see if it’s really worth tackling)

8. Rendering (doing a quick draft and letting it go)

9. Tending (improving rather than wasting)

10. Vending (sell, sell, sell)

11. Wending (finding a way out, to do what you REALLY want to do)

That’s my 11 word rhyming solution set for life hacking some of the projects, processes and people who are driving you nuts, and weighing you down.

Love to hear if you have other action words that get you over the humps (rhyming or not). Email: Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Problems

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The #1 Warning Sign You’re About to Get Fired

July 8th, 2015

33523010_sAdmit it… you don’t like your job.

You didn’t mean to take the first thing you got offered. But you did. Turns out it’s worse than you thought it would be. You don’t like the company, your boss, or most of your co-workers.

You can’t believe this is your life now. You have this dreary, I-do-nothing-important job that grinds you down every day.

Maybe you could earn as much going freelance. Consult. Maybe coach?

But you can’t help worrying….

Should you try to find something else full time, rather than risk leaving now and going out on your own?

Should you go back to school or get some kind of certification?

Should you just grit your teeth, be patient and wait for recruiters or clients to find you?

One thing for sure. You can’t stand this job much longer.

There you have it! The number one warning sign you are about to get fired is how you feel about your job.

Don’t think you are fooling anyone. And, don’t get fooled yourself.

Every client I’ve seen who’s been fired, spent at least six months – sometimes six years – hating the job they were in. And they thought no one knew. They thought the boss wasn’t paying attention.

Then they got fired. Funny thing is – they were SURPRISED! Angry! Bitter!

And really, really scared.

Losing your job is a very scary thing. And if you hated your job, you feel really strange. After all, what could be better than losing something you hate? Keeping it?

It’s time to start thinking about what you really want to do. And where you really want to work. Maybe you really do want to work for yourself. Maybe you really can be a successful freelancer, coach or consultant.

Then it’s time to spruce up your LinkedIn summary. In fact, you may need to make some radical changes in the way you present yourself on LinkedIn and on social media sites.

Just make sure your privacy settings block your network from knowing you are making changes. If not, everyone will know what you are doing – before you are ready to announce it.

Need some help with your LinkedIn Summary? Email me at Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: LI Summary

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3 Wordplay Tricks For Winning Big Deals

July 1st, 2015

Businessman-Thinking1Your winning in business cannot depend on others taking a lot of time to understand you and what you mean. If you have had a cover letter and resume simply go into the email trash bin of an HR department, without your receiving even an acknowledgment of your existence, you know you haven’t mastered the language of getting attention, much less a positive response.

Saying what you mean – and getting a positive response – is akin to winning at Scrabble or Words with Friends. You have to be strategic in your thinking. You have to play the game, being tactically superior to others.

Words are what make the difference between your getting what you want or not. It’s not your good intentions that gets you a job or a new client. It’s not your sincerity. It’s not your big heart. It’s not your ability to work hard.

You must frame your position, argument or proposition in a winning way, one that generates a specific, positive response.

Here are three wordplay tricks that you might put to use.

  1. Take out as many pronouns as possible when you tell a story. Make it less about you, and more about the recipient of your effort. Big tip: don’t start with “I.” For example,

DON’T SAY:

I volunteer every Monday evening at the food pantry on Main Street, because I want to give back to people. I am especially drawn to families with kids, who are struggling to get on their feet. I worry they only have that one meal to look forward to, and I want to make a difference in their lives by bringing groceries and serving them dinner.

DO SAY:

One out of every six kids in America is “food insecure.” It’s hard to believe, but that many kids wake up not knowing if they’ll have a meal that day. So you’ll find me every Monday evening at the food pantry on Main Street, bringing groceries and serving dinner to families gathered there for perhaps their only meal of the day.

  1. Lead with what your recipient gets, rather than frame your offer about what you receive. For example,

DON’T SAY:

I want a compensation package of $117,000 annually as well as a modest moving allowance and a guaranteed expense account of $2500 per month for client entertainment.

DO SAY:

It’s great to have the opportunity to discuss compensation with you. I can meet all the job objectives as well as the quotas for production you have outlined and arrive ready to work on the day you prefer, for a salary of $117,000 annually as well as a modest moving allowance and a guaranteed expense account of $2500 per month for client entertainment.

  1. Kill your habit of saying: “like,” “you know,” and “I mean.” For example,

DON’T SAY:

At my last job, you know, I had a lot of responsibility. I mean, I worked overtime like three days a week for like months.

DO SAY:

At my last job, the amount of responsibility given to me required my working overtime three days a week on average for several months.

Some people don’t like these types of wordplay “tricks” because they believe it’s not authentic to change your natural speaking pattern. However, consider that your aspirations may have outgrown the way you express yourself. It may be time to strategically approach communication. These three tactical changes may jumpstart your success.

Do you have a worrisome speaking habit or are you looking to frame a delicate issue in the most diplomatic way? Tell me your concern and I will help. Email: Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject: Speech

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Two Ways To Improve the Odds in Your Favor

June 24th, 2015

ContinuousImprovement_300Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. Improving your odds of winning – being lucky and landing a fantastic job, well-paying new clients, a sold-out audience for your workshop, a big promotion or bonus depends on preparation and opportunity. AKA luck.

That’s why some people are always lucky. And, some people have no luck.

There is a trap door you may haven fallen through in life’s journey so far. It’s what puts you below our awareness. It drops you off our radar when we are looking to hire. It makes you invisible when we need someone who does exactly what you do. It makes you appear inferior even when you could be in fact, the very best at what you do. It cripples your good intentions.

That trap door is clarity. For you to be lucky – to be prepared and conscious of opportunities that fulfill your dreams – you must be completely and totally clear about what you want. Or what I call: what you really, really want.

Clarity is a synonym for commitment in this case. As you know, many people are commitment-phobic. You might be accustomed to thinking about commitment in terms of romantic relationships. There are self-help books about falling in love with people who can’t commit. The books all end the same way. The best advice: run away from people who are commitment phobic. You can only lose if you stay attracted and attached to them.

That’s how employers feel. How prospective clients feel. How investors feel.

We can feel your lack of clarity. We can sense your lack of commitment. I don’t mean in a romantic relationship, of course. I mean in a business relationship.

This is what a lack of clarity and commitment sound like:

“I hope I can …”

“I think I might …”

“If someone gave me …”

Having met thousands of people talking about their businesses and careers in this way, I now know why employers, and prospective clients or investors run away from the people who lack clarity and commitment.

You appear to want to burden us with your needs. How? You want us to imagine you. You want us to be clear on what you want. You want us to make your luck.

We don’t want to.

It is up to you describe exactly what you want – what you really, really want – in its most minute detail. The first person you should tell is yourself. Then, go about preparing yourself for exactly what you want. Take the classes or workshops. Do the reading. Follow the thought leaders. Practice and prepare. You’ll be amazed how the right opportunities land right in front of you. And how quickly your dreams become reality.

How should you start getting clear and committed? Be able to answer this question. If I called you up tomorrow, and said, “I have an amazing opportunity for you!” What would I be talking about? Just so you know, over ten years I have asked this question of thousands of people. In a decade, only three have been able to answer it on-the-spot.

What would you say is an amazing opportunity for you? Let me know. I might help you find it. Email: Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Amazing

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