Everyone is Too Busy

Being busy is the new humblebrag. It starts at work, but it also extends to family and personal activities. People that categorize themselves as busy think that doing so makes themdownload (1) in-demand or praiseworthy. They need to re-evaluate.

There is pressure at work, home, school, events, volunteer opportunities, friends, family – it all drives us a bit crazy. As you read that sentence and saw something in your own life for each of them, you probably thought, “How am I going to fit all of this in?” That is the sign that you are too busy.

At different times in our lives, there are different priorities. Some stay and some go. However, from time to time, it is very important to evaluate your schedule to prevent you from becoming too busy.

Stop

Over-committing is the quickest way to get yourself off-course from achieving what you care most about right now. Don’t put anything else on your to-do list. Take a step back from everything – you need to gain clarity. Do what you absolutely must for a week and cut everything else out.

Evaluate

After you have slowed down and caught your breath, you are ready to evaluate your current state. Time management is a zero-sum game. The only way that you can fix a broken schedule is by making sense of where you currently stand. Write a list of where and how you are spending your time. Then, write down everything that is on your mind, your schedule and weighing you down.

Prioritize

Now it is time for a fresh start. What is the most important task for each day to get closer to your goals? What do you value most? In essence, ask “why” you do each thing instead of “what.” Using the list that you just made above, circle or underline five items that are the most important and the five activities that contributed the least to your objectives.

Go

Once you know what matters most, you can get going again with less weigh on your shoulders. Start each day with confidence involving what you will accomplish and why. Remove events that don’t align with your high-level goals. Only add obligations that have a clear connection to what is most important.

There is no need to humblebrag about how busy you are. Find the joy in each day and appreciate your life.

Productivity Tips for Professionals

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In today’s age we are more connected than ever, which means that we are communicating more, which means that we are doing more. Time is our greatest resource, but also the one that we lack the most. The solution is to become more productive in the time that we do have. Here are some things that I try to do to perform my best throughout the day.

Breathe In & Out

Comfort is key – that is why you have to make sure that you feel good and relaxed before beginning any new task and even during it. Spend 30 seconds on medicating or even just drinking a cup of water. Think about it as giving you more “space of RAM” to be concentrated again.

Write It Down

Write every single one of your tasks down on colored paper with different tones. Organize them by priority and set deadlines. Not only will this help you stay on track with what is most important, but you will be able to quantify your jobs and really see what your day will look like. The colors also help to relax your brain and give you fresh energy.

Utilize Your Driving Time

Prepare for your day even before you are in the office. Think about what is already planned and get an idea of when you want to work on certain tasks. If you take a train to work, then you can even actively change meeting times to ease up your schedule so that you enter your office with a peace of mind.

Seek Help

You don’t always have to finish every task by yourself. Find colleagues or friends that can help prepare the essential information and material for you by the time you turn back to the job.

Call People

Most of us are impatient, including myself. Rather than waiting for someone to read your email and reply with the possibility of miscommunication errors, just pick up the phone. This way, you get more direct and correct information and gives you the opportunity to ask more questions that you probably wouldn’t write in an email, afraid that they would go unanswered if there are too many.

These are simple things that you can easily integrate into your work habits that will make your productivity increase and overall, make you much less stressed and more ready when you arrive for work. What other ways do you improve your productivity?

Network Like You Mean It

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Business networking isn’t all winging and wining, business cards and elevator pitches. Most people don’t even like networking. I get it, after a long work day, the thought of having to make conversation with a room full of strangers seems like another big chore. However, the negative stigma to business networking has to stop because it is vital to the progression of your career.

Time after time, the most successful people that I meet are also the best networkers. They realize that business networking is a tool and they have found a way to make it work for them. Now, it is no longer a task for them and they can do it with ease. Just follow these three tips to get yourself started.

  1. It’s not formal anymore

First of all, there is no rule that says that you need to network over a glass of wine in a hotel ballroom and exchange business cards. Networking can happen whenever, wherever and however you want it to happen. It can take place at a birthday party, during a workout or volunteering with your family on the weekend. Pick your favorite activities and find groups that share those passions and join them. This will help make you feel more relaxed and naturally confident – you’ll find yourself making better, more positive impressions.

  1. Set measurable goals

I know what you’re thinking, what kind of goals? Here you go: At the beginning of each month, write down a number of events that you want to attend over the next 30 days. Feel free to vary them according to work and personal commitments. Next, select which industries or organization that you want to network. What do you hope to achieve? Meet new people, learn best practices, promote your business? Decide and keep a running log of your progress. You’ll be able to maximize your time and energy because you won’t feel the need to go to every event invitation that you receive.

  1. Maintain relationships

Remember that meeting someone once doesn’t mean anything. The relationship happens during the follow up. To help support this, keep a list of the people you meet with details such as their work, interests and anything else that will help you remember the connection. Make your first email to them memorable, something that will make them think or laugh. Review this list of people every three months and reach out to them again, share a resource or invite them to another networking event.

It is not about the number of people you know, but how well you know them and even more important, how well they know you. Don’t waste any opportunities, get going!

The Trend That Will Affect Us All

The future may be hard to predict and sometimes we guess wrong. However, there is one trend that will have a big impact on everyone’s business for not only the next few years, but possibly the coming decades. One thing that we cannot deny is that tomorrow, we will be older than we are today. Changes of demography can have very important political, economic and military consequences.

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Let’s take a look at Europe and Japan first. Recent statistics are showing that populations in these two countries are having fewer children – they are also facing a distressing level of youth unemployment. Some worrisome implications of this is a less experienced workforce that will need to financially support a larger elderly population. Meanwhile, Europe is having a huge migration crisis. Who will make it to Europe, where will they settle?

Competitiveness will be at a high in mature economies like Japan and the United States. The workforce will be older, healthcare costs will be higher and there will probably be less pension benefits.

I know what you’re thinking – “What about China?” Many analysts have been betting that China will take up the demographic slack and be the growth engine of the future, but that is not the case. Sure, right now Chinese citizens are relatively prosperous, but China’s one child policy is beginning to take its toll. The smaller number of the next generation is going to have to support a much larger pool of aging citizens, just how it is in developed countries. The Middle Kingdom still accounts for a large proportion of the world’s population and mainland China will still fuel world growth economically. However, the pace of this growth will vary province by province.

As you can already see, companies will need to be creative and find new innovative business models that can take advantage of the shifting demographics of their operating countries’ populations.

The growth in the world will come from countries like India and Africa – this is where the big opportunities lay. Over the next decade, African economies such as Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique are predicted to grow as fast or even faster than some recent Asian countries. However, we must keep in mind that problems like corruption, political instability, poor education and lack of infrastructure could slow or limit growth.

Overall, these shifts in demography will not cause a decline by any means. There will be room for new business opportunities across industries, especially healthcare.

3 Ways to Have a Bigger Impact

The theme of this year’s Clinton Global Initiative was “the future of impact.” I began to think about what we can do as individual lePartnerships-Are-the-Future-of-Impactaders to create a better world for the next generation. There are many different ways to go about this, but I do believe that there are three fundamental changes that we can make. If we implement them into all tasks, big and small, I think that we can create some positivity for our future.

GIVE BACK

Everyone, successful or not should give back. It isn’t just the right thing to do, but the gratification that it gives you is like nothing else. Volunteering creates shared value for everyone – whether it is employees, customers, partners or shareholders. When a group of people join together to take on an environmental or social issue, they take on much more than a few hours of their time. They can address an immediate need, but also put attention on a long-term solution, no matter the challenges. Every effort to give back makes a difference in someone. That someone will turn around and impact someone else or some thing in a positive way as well. Giving back has a multiplier effect, remember your one action is not alone.

MENTORSHIP

Mentoring young people around me is something that I have always naturally done, probably because I had it done for me. Besides my parents, I have had many other brilliant mentors that have shaped me into the person that I have become. My favorite part of mentoring others is watching them grow and realize that they are capable of great things. Us, as mentors are an invaluable resource that can ignite a mentee’s ambition – so we need to take advantage of it and lead them to opportunities we know they can handle.
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I am a firm believer that everyone has something to learn from someone – yes, even your mentees. I think that by working with others, especially from diverse backgrounds and interests, we can achieve so much more. By simply having the commitment of working together, two people or a group of people can create a new way of thinking that can have better impact on the future than you could have had alone.

Very early in my life, I was taught the importance of “paying it forward” and I believe that these three steps should serve as reminders of how we can have a lasting effect on the world and its future leaders.

Do It, Ask Questions

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese proverb

Handsome businessman daydreaming of his business future

I was recently in a meeting with a CEO of a very successful company, one that I look up to. In the middle of the meeting, someone mentioned something about retail in China. He immediately perked up and began asking a number of questions. There’s no doubt that this man is a successful professional, but yet when you found something that he did not know very much about – he asked questions and learned. We think of good professionals as working hard, inspiring others, negotiating well, but another critical quality that I think we need to keep in mind is that they aren’t afraid to ask questions. I think that asking questions shows some further good attributes.

Confidence

No one is really a know-it-all and it is never a good look. Asking questions shows others that you are confident enough to admit when you don’t know. This enables you to grow, just like the CEO did.

Openness

When you ask questions, the dynamic in the room changes. When you are no longer the big dog in the room, others are more likely to open up and ask questions too. With everyone better informed, better decisions can be made.

Preparation

I know what you’re thinking, “Doesn’t asking questions show a poor command of the subject?” Well, not really. If you have a series of questions to ask in every meeting, it shows your team that you are on top of what is going on in the business and where there are gaps.

Sales

This might sound a little counterintuitive to you, but it is actually a sales strategy that works. When I first got started, young and naïve, I learned that asking questions is a great way to sell yourself and your company. By doing this, you let others feel empowered and shows that you are interested in their passion. They are more likely to trust you and want to work with you.

If anyone ever seems upset that you are asking a question, they are not true working professionals. Show them what a professional is by showing how asking questions makes deeper connections and boosts your career. At the very least, you will leave a meeting knowing more than you did before, which is never a bad thing.

Remember, asking questions shows confidence, openness, preparation and will be a great addition to your sales strategy.

Feedback: Direct, Specific, Clear

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

Feedback is a really idownloadmportant factor no matter the environment that we are in; it is the coaching along the way that helps us improve from bad to good and good to fantastic.

When I was around 10 years old, I quit playing the piano. The feedback that I got from my highly trained, but young and inexperienced teach was so overwhelming. There was always so much correction, pressure and expectations – it was difficult to process. Six years later, I returned to playing the piano with a more experienced coach. I learned to appreciate the process of learning how to string the notes together – first by measure, then increasing the tempo and last, perfecting the phrasing. Granular feedback had turned me into a confident pianist.

In order to coach others into their full potential just as I was, I believe that there are three simple rules to follow.

Be Direct: People sugarcoat areas that need improvement, but really you need to tell them how it is – that is what is truly valuable. Of course, show sensitivity while delivering the facts. Something that might help you is by asking permission such as, “May I give you an observation that may bother you?” They will automatically convert into learning mode and be ready to hear you. Lastly, as always, present it in a positive framework that is aimed at them improving themselves rather than comparing to a quantity or measurement.

Be Specific: The least effective feedback is when it is generalized. Use a recent instance and talk about the effect that it had on the team or their performance. Provide this kind of feedback privately because a confidential conversation makes hearing these tough truths easier. They will focus on your words instead of worrying about what everyone else is thinking.

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Be Clear: If the feedback is serious enough that they risk losing their position, then say it in a non-threatening way. Give them time frames for improvement, measurable ways to improve and schedule a follow up. So basically, don’t skip to the punch line.

The wonderful thing about being in management is watching others grow. You are not the solo performer; you need the rest of your team there. Yes, giving feedback can be difficult, but it is as vital as deciding whom to hire, to promote and even to let go. Be the leader that keeps confidences, removes obstacles and notices what can be improved. That is the kind of piano coach I had and the one that I aim to be.

4 Steps to Lead Effectively

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

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The fact of life is that we all have to lead at some point. Some are pushed into authority position whether they like it or not, some are required to lead as their daily duties and some are looking to lead to promote ideals and guide others to values that they feel strongly about. There are so many ways that we need to be leaders and it doesn’t have to be scary, I’ll tell you how to lead a team without becoming the manager that everybody hates.

  1. Set an Example

Think about when someone asks you for directions. You can write step-by-step directions, draw a map, or even provide details such as landmarks. Or you could simply say, “Follow me.”

Value statements and culture decks are not effective, especially not the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ sentiment. These respect and integrity lines don’t mean anything if you turn around and curse a member of your team out.

The point is, show people what you believe in and they will naturally follow.

  1. Be Humble

Think about two scenarios. In the first, a boss makes a mistake and refuses to admit it, blaming someone else. In the second, a boss recognizes the mistake and admits it, learns from it, done. Which boss would you rather work for? Exactly, the second because owning up to mistakes inspires respect. No body is perfect so don’t be afraid to ask your team for help. This will humanize you to your team and create an environment that everybody feels that they can learn from each other.

  1. Praise Sincerely

Authenticity is key – DO NOT just go through motions to check people off of a list. Be specific when telling someone how and why you found their actions to be so beneficial. The overall goal is to instinctively recognize and appreciate efforts of others and to communicate that appreciation consistently. I believe that praise and recognition can be inspiring, so don’t skip this one.

  1. Learn to Listen

No one has ever learned anything while speaking. So, listen to your employees and stay in touch with the reality of your company. You will begin to become aware of new problems much quicker and understand how your people are dealing with them.

Remember, what is important to you is important to them. Your voice carries more weight because it is based on reality.

Being a ‘leader’ is just a title. We all lead, so focus on leading effectively by paying attention to these simple steps. I promise you that you will have results that you are proud of.