Archive for the ‘Great tips’ Category

bills1The Sunday, April 12, 2009 Washington Post has a helpful article on two programs available to assist up to nine million homeowners. These are refinancing and loan modification. You can find the link to the article here.

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meetings1One, if not the singular most common time complaint by staff of any organization, large or small, is that of incessant, mind-numbing meetings.

Jessica Stillman of BNET has some great recommendation by Seth Godin on managing this beast.

  • Understand that all problems are not the same. So why are your meetings? Does every issue deserve an hour? Why is there a default length?
  • Schedule meetings in increments of five minutes. Require that the meeting organizer have a truly great reason to need more than four increments of realtime face time.
  • Require preparation. Give people things to read or do before the meeting, and if they don’t, kick them out.
  • Remove all the chairs from the conference room.
  • If someone is more than two minutes later than the last person to the meeting, they have to pay a fine of $10 to the coffee fund.
  • Bring an egg timer to the meeting. When it goes off, you’re done. Not your fault, it’s the timer’s.
  • The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.
  • Create a public space (either a big piece of poster board or a simple online page) that allows attendees to rate meetings and their organizers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness.
  • If you’re not adding value to a meeting, leave. You can always read the summary later.

You can find the BNET post: here.

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entrepreneurSource: Nonprofit Times

Which way do I go? What do I do? For anyone caring about bringing about change, those questions can be extremely difficult because it isn’t just a case of finding a facile answer. 

In their book “Life Entrepreneurs,” Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek offer seven common steps on the path of the life entrepreneur, someone who leads a life instead of just living it, who brings dreams to life.

The steps in the path of life entrepreneurship are:

  • Discovering core identity. This is the compass. At its heart are values and purposes, informed by external factors such as personal history, current circumstances and relationships, as well as internal factors.
  • Awakening to opportunity. With deep self-awareness, we become more aware of opportunities around us that resonate with our core identity.
  • Envisioning the future. The notion of vision is commonly applied to an organization, but it can also be applied to our lives. What do we envision for who we will be and what we will do with our lives?
  • Developing goals and strategies. Goals should be purposeful and prioritized, clear and measurable, challenging but achievable.
  • Building healthy support systems. Having a robust support system infused with healthy, diverse relationships helps us achieve our life goals.
  • Taking action and making a difference. The preceding steps are academic unless we assume risks and take action.
  • Embracing renewal and reinvention. Sometimes we must step back and look around, assessing where we have come from and where we are going.

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Here are some great recommendations from Get-It-Done-Guy on voice mail etiquette:

1. Always leave your full name. I can’t say this enough. Leave your full name. They’ll recognize my voice. No, they won’t. Leave your full name. But I’m leaving my message for my parents. That’s nice. Leave your full name. It’s good practice. Your parents agonized over that name. They fought over it. They almost divorced while debating Filligan versus Dormalia. And your middle name? Don’t even get me started. Just leave your full name.

2. Always leave your phone number twice. 866-WRK-LESS. Once at the beginning and once at the end. But they have my phone number, you cry! No, they don’t, not with them. But we talk every day! Yes, and they don’t have your phone number. Not in front of their eyes. Just leave it. Leave it at the beginning of the message and the end. If they miss it the first time, they’ll have a second chance. And whether their voicemail has “rewind 10 seconds” or “replay from start,” they’ll //quickly// be able to get right to the number with only a couple of key presses. 866-WRK-LESS.

3. Speak slowly and clearly. Your brain screens out traffic, conversations, and wind while you leave a message. You hear the dulcet strains of your own voice, while the voicemail system hears static, wind, the occasional siren, and that truly disgusting belch you expelled without a second thought. Oh, yeah, and your cell phone is cutting out while you leave the message. Speak to them … like … they’re … a … child. They’ll understand you and you’ll get the fun of activating your parental instincts without the fuss of actually changing your friend’s diapers.

4. Leave enough information so the person can take the next step. Don’t just say “Call me.” What a cop out. You’ll just bounce back and forth like some hideous voicemail volleyball. Tell them enough so they can proceed without calling back, or if they call back, they can do it having made all the progress possible. “This is Sam, calling about the, er, health issue. Could you call me back with the name of that antibiotic? And what’s your favorite cotton swab? Thanks!”

By the way, when you’re done with this episode, download a PDF of these rules from getitdone.quickanddirtytips.com.

5. If you’re just calling to touch base, let them know a few times when they can call you back. There are times you want a phone call, and times when you don’t. When you’re out on the town, edging up to that sexy single standing by the bar, you just aren’t in the mood to take a phone call about refilling your company’s supply of packing peanuts. Tell your voicemail victim, “Give me a call today after 3, tomorrow at 7, or Thursday between 9 and noon.” You’ll help them and save your love life, all at once.

6. Keep it short and simple.

7. Make it fun. If you must go on and on in a voicemail message, make it easy to listen to. Be humorous. Sing. Deliver your message in rhyme. I do all these things, and people love getting messages from me. If you’re going to force people to think of you, have ’em think of you fondly.

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All of us have been the victim of mind-numbing, god-awful presentations. Here are some tips to make your next presentations great:

  • Know your subject
  • Know the audience
  • Know the A/V equipment
  • Know the time constraints
  • Have a “plan B”‘ be prepared to adjust on the fly
  • Have a “hook” to start . . . get their attention (See Knockout Presentations, DiResta (1998))
  • Keep it simple
  • Engage the audience: use eye contact, questions, etc.
  • PowerPoint tips:
    • Use the “Rule of 6”
      • 6 lines per slide
      • 6 words per line
      • No more than 6 slides without a graphic
    • Use minimal animation and effects
    • Rarely use sound effects
    • Use a big font (230 pt.)
    • Graphics and sound effects must be relevant to the topic and not distracting
    • Allow 1 minute per slide; more if you expect a lot of discussion
    • Beware of colors: dark background vs. light; yellow
  • Use humor, but be careful!
  • Use voice inflection
  • Be aware of your gestures
  • Know when to use charts
  • Know yourself
  • When appropriate cover:
    • The purpose
    • Background
    • Relevant issues
    • Recommendations / actions
  • Always tell ’em, tell ’em, and tell ’em again

Good luck!

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig was rejected by 121 agents, editors, and publishers (the author kept track). In 1974, a single editor at Morrow felt that the book may have some market appeal. Persig was paid an advance of $3,000 and his editor informed him that it was highly unlikely that his royalties would exceed the advance, so he shouldn’t expect any more checks. It has since gone on to sell over 4 million copies and remains in print more than a quarter of a century later. Persig continues to receive checks.

What makes the difference between those who finally succeed and those who endure? In a word, endurance. Not endurance in the Western sense of the word, but endurance from Eastern wisdom as represented by two pictures: a strong heart combined with a boat crossing between two shores — a specific goal and a strong heart. Perseverance furthers.

Time and again, we hear how inventors, authors, and social entrepreneurs among others faced a mountain of rejection. Everyone notices you after you have succeeded; that’s not the point. The point is not to quit before the magic happens. Success is often around the corner.

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Through our friends at Bnet.com, I discovered a great site – Lifehack.org developed by Leon Ho from Bisbane, Australia. In one of his posts he recommends 20 Productive Ways to Use Your Free Time. These include

  1. Develop a reading file
  2. Clear out your inbox
  3. Return phone calls
  4. Make money
  5. Filing
  6. Networking
  7. Clear out your RSS feeds
  8. Speedy goal updating
  9. Updating finances
  10. Brainstorm ideas
  11. Clear off your desk
  12. Quick exercises
  13. Take a walk
  14. Do you follow ups
  15. Mediate
  16. Research
  17. Outlining
  18. Get prepped
  19. Be early
  20. Log

For the complete article, click here!

Thanks Leon!

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motivation1Motivation is essential for people and teams to work effectively and harmoniously. Studies into what motivates people at work have revealed that motivators and demotivators are not necessarily the same thing. In other words, the things that make people feel motivated and enthusiastic are not always the same things that, if unsatisfactory, make them feel discontented and apathetic.

The top ten motivators for project team members are from Motivation in the Project Environment by R.J. Yourzak:

  • Reason #1: Recognition
  • Reason #2: Achievement
  • Reason #3: Responsibility
  • Reason #4: Team peer relations
  • Reason #5: Salary (notice that money is in the middle?)
  • Reason #6: Relations with project manager
  • Reason #7: Project manager’s leadership
  • Reason #8: Work itself
  • Reason #9: Advancement
  • Reason #10: Personal growth

Now, concentrate on the first four reasons!

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Knowledge is a valuable tool. Using knowledge effectively, so that it makes a difference, is really where the importance lies. Marshall Goldsmith refers to this utilization as “influencing up” when it is used to bring ideas to an organization’s upper levels.

In the book Leading Organizational Learning, which he has edited with Howard Morgan and Alexander J. Ogg, Goldsmith offers 10 guidelines to influencing upper management.

  1. When presenting ideas to upper management, realize that it is your responsibility to sell, not their responsibility to buy.
  2. Focus on contribution to the larger good, not just the achievement of your objectives.
  3. Strive to win the big battles. Don’t waste your ammunition on small points.
  4. Present a realistic cost-benefit analysis of your ideas. Don’t just sell benefits.
  5. “Challenge up” on issues of ethics or integrity. Never remain silent on ethics violations.
  6. Realize that your upper managers are just as human as you are. Don’t say, “I am amazed that someone at this level …”
  7. Treat upper managers with the same courtesy that you would treat partners or customers. Don’t be disrespectful.
  8. Support the final decision of the team. Don’t say, “They made me tell you” to direct reports.
  9. Make a positive difference. Don’t just try to win or be right.
  10. Focus on the future. Let go of the past.

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We have all been there. You build a great training session based on the expressed needs of your audience. You then circulate the agenda with a sign-up form. Lots of folks sign up. Then —- there are a lot of “no shows.” What happens between the time these folks sign up for the training and the actual day of training?

Here are some suggestions on how to encourage attendance follow-through and how to decrease “no shows.”

  • Use word-of-mouth referrals. Have previous participants who have attended past trainings personally invite their network to attend;
  • Serve lunch;
  • Have a potential participant determine the workshop topics;
  • Advertise heavily through newsletters and emails;
  • Call each participant the week before the event to confirm attendance and then follow-up the day before the training;
  • Overbook registration by 30%.

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