Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Best Way to Procrastinate: Productively

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

There’s this adage: “if you have something that must get done, give it to a busy person.” I hate that adage, because I am a busy person. The adage makes me feel like the butt of some psychic joke. I often wonder why I’m good about being busy, why it is so fulfilling to do a lot. Tonight, as I am implementing David Allen’s GTD system (as I have been for 6 months), which manifests my cult-like love for personal productivity, I keep interrupting my own work with other work (that is also mine by varying degrees of “mine-ness”). Library of SuccessI have levels of relationships to my work like Dante has circles of hell.  At the center, there’s my never-stop-burning urge to transfer everything I know to anyone who could use it. If you read my first book, Speak Up & Succeed: you know that 1.5 pounds was just breaking a sweat on the deep dive into business communication that I want to you to take with me. So deep, that just to keep my lungs from bursting, Pegasus Media World just released my ebook: Library of Success, which is a wiki of every possible piece of content you can bring into a meeting. I owe big thanks to Molly Jo Rosen for her contribution to that, and a note to my book design team to give her credit. That is the great thing about eBooks: you can make a much-needed correction without burning 25,000 books.

But, I digress. I wanted to tell you that the secret to my success is: I have so much to do that procrastination looks like productivity. When I want to drag my heels on prepping for a media interview, I can mind-map a client’s product portfolio. When I want to delay producing my newsletter, I can answer a reporter’s request for an expert on producing small company events cheaply in Texas. Yes, I get very detailed requests because part of my job is to know the world’s most important people. If I’m home so my staff can get work done in the morning, I can clip Mo’s dog’s nails instead of completing an RFP. When I’m procrastinating, a lot gets done. Sunday night, our house became gluten-free, ahead of my sorting through the weekend’s email.

So I think the key to productivity is procrastination. If you always have a lot to do, there’s always something you can stick ahead of what you simply don’t want to do. Except when the fire feels really hot – because you’re hurtling into the brick wall of a hard and fast deadline, can’t you hear the angels sing? On a wing and a prayer.

What are you waiting on?

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Secrets Revealed: How to Get Back in the Fast Lane

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

I talk to the media at least four times a week, oftentimes much, much more. I do that on behalf of Pegasus Media World authors and experts, as well as myself. So it’s unusual for me to “cotton” to a program host because, like meeting members of the press during movie junkets, some of their questions are repeats from past performances. Lately, the interviewers and journalists have been fantastic. They are coming to me with such surprising angles and topics, from “how has social media corrupted the work environment?” to “how does a company keep employees engaged during down time?” So, if you’ve watching ABC’s coverage, the New York Times and other outlets, you know I definitely have something to say about communication and the workplace. What’s been the most impressive is how in-depth the reporters are going, plus the quality of experts they are accessing and the accuracy with which my comments have been quoted. I really appreciate the curiosity they have, and how that translates to a more engaged and informed audience for their work. Recently I was delighted to be the only guest for Bill Horan’s Secrets of Success radio program in New York. He is a great example of the media I’ve been meeting. He’d read my entire book, researched my topic and had some zingers in his very challenging questions. We got so much feedback on the quality of information that I wanted to share it with you. You’ll get the fastest, most usable input for putting yourself higher up on the career ladder (or industry ranking for your business), than I’ve ever been able to deliver. A big thank you to Bill for the opportunity to go so deep in such a short time.

Hear it here: https://bit.ly/SLpn

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Let Books Bring You Everywhere You Want To Go

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

If you were going to be global, publishing is the ticket. Books – in all their different formats – and information sharing in its seemingly infinite iterations – bring you to the world, and as I have found: vice-versa.  This week, I’ll meet 27 international managers who are flying in to learn from some of the leading thinkers in business, and I’m thrilled to be among those transferring knowledge. My topic this week is marketing planning, which is something integral to publishing and promoting books and their authors.  Of course, because I was a marketing executive at The Coca-Cola Company, audiences think they might learn a bit of Coke’s secret formula from me. Surprise! They will. Except the secret formula to Coke’s success isn’t the ingredients in its beverage – Coke’s secret to being the world’s most recognized brand is executing the disciplined, strategic marketing they have perfected.When I returned home from Book Expo in New York just weeks ago, I realized that Coke made me think on a global level but also taught me the significance of focusing on one individual at a time. After all, that’s how fountain drinks are sold: one cup at a time. So, it never surprises me to have a meeting at the Spanish pavilion or the massive German booth to discuss foreign rights with an important publishing firm, and find out that I’m really speaking to people, one at a time.

If I had to choose, and I had to, I would always choose to be exchanging information, engaging in dialogues and helping other people earn their living doing the same. Of course, I believe that writing down what you know, providing your unique insight and accompanying every activity of commerce with your own book or publication introducing you, makes it easier for people to embrace you and your perspective.

And, once an author has down exactly what they want to share, I’m for sharing it everywhere.

In two weeks, one hundred Brazilian executives will make their way to two seminars I’ll give: one on Internet Marketing and the second on Marketing Communication Trends. Being a publisher doesn’t stop me from being a teacher or a writer anymore than it would stop me from being Molly’s mom. And, if you want to see someone who can’t be stopped, visit mollyjorosen.blogspot.com. Having a full time job in racing operations and blogging as Focused Filly doesn’t stop Molly Jo Rosen from writing – in fact you can catch her in the on-line New York Times at https://therail.blogs.nytimes.com/author/molly-jo-rosen.

Why am I going on and on about being published being your ticket to anywhere? Because if Molly and I can do it, with all of our goings-on, so can you. If David Mattson, the CEO of Sandler Training can do it, so can you! I could go on with all my favorite experts and authors who are doing so many things but take the time to document what they know – and off they and their work goes to the world, and the world comes to them.

Because the majority of technology at Pegasus Media World takes place without me, I can’t tell you when our new site will be perfectly built-out, so it can feature all the exciting places our authors will take you – and the places you may take our authors. But, I can say that you are always welcome at Pegasus Media World. We’ll try to keep you up-to-date on the most important people and up-and-coming experts. And, I wonder if you will be among us, as an expert or author.

Do you have a book in you?

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Just Say No To Twitter (When Your Boss is Speaking)

Friday, June 12th, 2009

ABC News asked me to weigh in on a topic that hurts like a bump to your funny bone: what to do when your boss catches you mid-tweet when you should be paying attention in a meeting. It’s a funny topic because everyone’s been caught – or like speeding and then seeing the police car – feels relief that we haven’t been caught. There is a dimension of this topic that pains me, though. My work as a coach and writer on business communication is all about empowering you to win attention, lock it in and get what you want because your audience finds you irresistible. Are there still people out there who are not using my system in their meetings, presentations and conversations??? Apparently, I’ll have to sell more books to save the world from death-by-meeting! My book: Speak Up & Succeed. Get it on NanceSpeaks.com, Amazon or wherever you like to procure your books. And, read Michelle Goodman’s terrific piece on meeting no-no’s:

https://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/story?id=7806077&page=1

Article Image

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When is a book not a book?

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

I have started many speeches with that question, because it’s rare that a book is actually a book. For the business author, a book is a very thick business card. It is one powerful way to influence world events by sharing what you know with people whom you otherwise might not meet – or making an extraordinary impression on the people you do know. Who would not want to transform tens of thousands of lives and business deals in a single stroke (actually several if you type your own manuscripts)? In the broadest of terms,  a book is a way of branding yourself and your organization. It is also a source of revenue that once vitalized has no reason to stop earning its keep many times over.

And so with great excitement this week, I stepped onto the floor of the Jacob Javits convention center in New York, to meet the international partners who would take our current catalog and bring it to Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. Our books are not books here. Our books are messengers of America’s best practices, smartest people and a symbol of what we do best here – innovate and then advocate.

Or course, I met up with some old friends including CSPAN. More than a decade ago, I interviewed Brian Lamb (genius behind the programs) about his first book: Booknotes. Here was a man who had spent his favorite hours in television interviewing authors and finally writing about those interviews. It was like a picture in a picture. But, what struck me most about Brian was not the substance of the books he explored. It was his love for detail. He rooted out where the writers wrote, what chair, what light, and when, and with what implement. I don’t know if the anthropology of writers’ lives were as compelling to anyone else as it was for him, but I know his documentation will make a difference sometime in the future. For him, books weren’t books. They were an amalgam of the people, time and place that these works were created.

Do you have a book in you? I have brought many speeches to a close with that question. Well, do you?

BookExpo2009withCSPAN

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Who’s The Target, Target?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

You know who did me a “Fay-vah?” You’ll never guess. Target. Actually, you‘d never think of it as a “fay-vah.”  It would normally be called the rudest possible customer “service.” Apparently, in the upside world that blames our entire economic misery on the robber barons at AIG, Lehman Bros (okay, I lost a lot of money on that one, too) et al, we have forgotten that consumer confidence drives purchases (and the stock market).

I wouldn’t call it consumer confidence anymore. Let’s call it pain tolerance. Shopping – that’s right, spending MONEY that greases the machine for all of us, is almost too hard to do at most retailers.

Here’s a ditty about one of devolving shopping experiences I endured in several stores this weekend. On Sunday evening, with my last bit of retail courage, Jon and I went to a Target Supreme (okay, Super) Store on La Cienega in Los Angeles. It’s quite a drive from Bel Air, but this Target is really big and open late. The check out gal kept smelling a bottle of Axe body wash Jon bought, checking him out with a lot more focus than she had for the other items in our usual Targetmanical shopping spree. “Oooooo,” she sang over and over like Diana Ross, “this is the nicest thing I’ve smelled all day,” as she rubbed the plastic bottle. Fine, Jon’s a handsome man, he smells good and apparently she’s spent the day with foul smelling products or people or whatever she’s comparing it/him to.

The real problem is revealed when we drive, like the last little piggy, all the way home. “Did you bring in another bag?” Jon asks me. Because Jon is the most chivalrous, strong and just darn helpful man in the world, my answer is no. When we arrived home, as usual, I entered the house empty handed and was immediately attacked with pent up affection by our two small dogs. I find holding bags impedes my participation in their wildly enthusiastic greeting ritual.

We realize the Target smell good girl didn’t give us all our bags. Oddly, the body wash is with us, but not the Mother’s Day cards and a small fortune in (and week’s supply, which is five bags of) dog snacks. For some reason, our dogs snack, they don’t get treats. I think we say, “snack,” because our dogs don’t do anything to “earn” a life size fake bacon strip or tiny adorable fake porterhouse steak. So, to be honest, we just ask the dogs, “Would you like a snack?”  We’re those kind of straightforward people.

We also find a leaking diet Rockstar emptying into a thin plastic Target bag – sorry, we forgot to bring our canvas bags, which would have soaked in a Rorschach stain to remember.

We drive back to Target, in some part because 7-11 has Terminator cups that Jon is collecting, and there are two or three 7-11 stores along the way. If there’s an action movie opening, we drink a lot of slurpees.

We arrive back at Supreme Target and stand in line at its customer no-service area. The gals behind the counter are screaming and laughing and talking and look like unwashed, bloated homeless people in red vests. They are as rude and crude as high school detention students.

The one with the hair that hasn’t been washed this year, finds our ungiven bag. “You musta lef it here,” she raps at us. We nod because we’ve learned from grade school that there’s no retort that transforms bullies into decent people. Jon has the physical means to change their brains, but we are decent people and she and her sister-in-customer-service are girl-bullies, so that’s not an option.

We present the punctured Rockstar can. “Ah dohn no what ya kin do with dat. Yoh bought a 4 pack and ya dohn bring me dah 4 pack,” she emits linguistically. I suggest we go and get a replacement can. We (Jon) does. Then we wait 20 minutes while she looks at our receipt like an immigration officer at the Mexican border scrutinizing our passports as we pass through the swine flu inspection gate.

I have experienced this and chronicled it in order to sound an alarm about our economy, even as the stock market inches upward this quarter. To everyone who is wondering why retail sales are down, you know why. It’s that no one can successfully or pleasantly shop. If I told you my whole day, including asking 5 dumbstruck clerks (all grown ups) where I could find cabinet baby locks at Bed, Bath and Beyond Hell, and trying to buy a cup of coffee at a giant Starbucks that didn’t have hot coffee, you would remind me to never leave the house.

Back at Target, she says, “Ah am doin you a FAY-VAH, you uhnerstan? So dohn you be nuhthin but nice to me. Ah am doin you a FAY-VAH, a FAH-VAH you uhnerstan? Ah dohn work in dat department. Ah’m not involved with the drinks or nuthin you have a problem with.”

No, I “dohn unnerstan.” Your store’s check out person doesn’t give me all my stuff, I’m sent home with a leaking can in a four pack and I’m tired of begging clerks to clerk. I go find the manager. A young man whose soiled red vest is flapping open above his untucked shirt, is identified by another cashier as the manager. I quickly share my problem. His eyes dart and his mouth is slack. “I really ain’t no manajah. He on lunch, so he ask me to take over. You wanna fill out a customer card?” says the “acting manager.”

I leave the store. Jon grips the dog treats and holds a new Rockstar aloft like a prize. “I got her to replace ours,” he says after a negotiation where small countries could have been bought and sold during the same time.

So, Target – cut out all those hipster ads targeting people like me, who are “swing shoppers,” so-called because we’re as likely to shop at Neiman Marcus as we are at Target. We drive luxury cars but we wash them ourselves. Hence we visit Target with credit cards that have no balances because we pay our bills.

Invest the money you’re draining with your ads into recruitment and training for your clerks. Same for you Bed, Bath and Beyond My Tolerance for Dazed, Confused and Angry, Unkempt Clerks. Same for you Saks Fifth Avenue, making an appointment at La Mer for a free “half-hour makeover” that that didn’t involve any making over, just a bait and switch sales pitch for seriously over-hyped kelp-fed hope in a jar. Honestly, I didn’t wear make-up to work for this?

Give your people some attention because they’re not paying any to the traffic you’re driving with your uber-cool ads and giant 20% off any-item-in-the-store-if-you-can-find-one coupons. And, don’t get me started on the Saks “make-up artist” who told me about his mother being happy to be hit by a car and enjoy being a quadriplegic now that “her kids are grown.” Wow, that’s a mid-day downer.

So, how is your brand “represented” at customer touch points?

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No Go on Zoho.com

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Never fall in love before you really know someone. Okay, fall in love but don’t make a commitment. My most recent heartbreak happened with Zoho.com. The free test was promising, and the reviews the site posted (from Economist and Time) were impressive. The only caution came from a reviewer who nabbed the CEO as being “more frugal” than half-penny pincher Michael Dell. Okay, sometimes “frugal” means lean (good) and sometimes it means you’ll be shortchanged (bad). We plunked our money down, loaded up projects and ran into 4 major snags. Not a problem – we called their 24-hour toll-free line and sent emails. We did that again. And, again. Each time we called we reached a lonely man who called himself “Phillip.” First he told us the project management software support “team” was in a meeting. After 2 days of no support, Phillip reported the team was sleeping. After all, he said, it’s India and they’re not on our time zone.

Because I have this system – you know if you’ve read my book: Speak Up! & Succeed, I can almost always get the so-called impossible get. And, I did this time. The head of Zoho finally called me – in fact, he calls me regularly now. Like a lover that’s done you wrong and realizes he’s going to feel the loss worse than you, the calls have kept coming.  His accent is so thick and his purpose equally difficult to discern, I’m not sure what he’s offering. I ended two calls by saying, “I simply don’t know what I can do for you.” I have moved on to Bootcamp. I’m not in love, but it’s a functional relationship so far. And, I didn’t have to go through a pint of Ben & Jerry’s to get over the break up.

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Why Business is Good: It’s the Little Things

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

At just after 6 PM today, I walk into Le Pain Quotidien in Beverly Hills, a magical emporium of upscale coffee and Nutella dripping pastries that are calling out to me: “Come have us and you will regain the strength to work another 6 hours, weary business woman!”

Unfortunately, guarding the goods is a squat, magenta headed clerk, who yells at me from behind the counter, “We’re CLOSED!” Yes, she yells in CAPITAL LETTERS. Plus, she smirks. Apparently the store did not need a “closed” sign or a locked door. It just had a gaping mouth above the counter to do its dirty work. I’ve heard this voice for the last few years. It is the voice of “business present” in most every retail or food establishment. An angry, overly-familiar, spit-in-your-soup, no-I-won’t-check-in-the-back kind of voice.

I reply: “How good for you then.”  I turn, fling my imaginary boa over my shoulder and begin to exit the place that I never should have entered (for both service and caloric reasons).

Our sad little scene is suddenly interrupted by a man who magically emerges from the kitchen, like the ghost of “business future” and yet also “business past.” In his crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he speaks. “We are open. You may have anything you like, except espresso. But, we have everything else.”

I smile at him because he, whatever his title or responsibility, is like me. We want to do business. We want to go out of our way. We want to stay late and come in early. We believe that we make the difference, as consumers and as purveyors. No matter what the news reports, we are still building our businesses and our careers. We know it’s just hard work after hours and above or below our pay grade, that makes us look lucky to people who do less.

I get a regular cup of coffee and 200 calories of something crunchy and sweet from this man, for the crazy price that delicious costs at these places. “It was a mistake. A misunderstanding,” he almost whispers to me as I thank him for helping me. I am restored just by his intention.

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