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The Art of Following Up

October 10th, 2018

Annoying calls, relentless emails. They just won’t stop following up. Another sales rep trying to close the deal, another recent college grad looking for a job. Another person who wants time that you don’t have to give.

So, we ask ourselves does following up really accomplish anything? Or does it just make potential buyers more annoyed and the reporters we’re pitching less likely to pick up a story that they’re tired of hearing about?

Truthfully, following up is essential and effective when done tactfully, but only then. Have you ever been in a personnel hiring crunch and the right person just happened to follow up? There may have been 20 other qualified candidates in the stack of resumes on your desk, but the one who made it easier for you to schedule their interview got the job. You just saved hours of sifting through resumes.

Maybe you’re a news producer trying to fill your evening news slots. You have 50 segment pitches in your inbox, but you don’t have time to read all of those. It’s the person who follows up that gets a spot, because they accelerated the process for you.

That’s the key –– make following up beneficial for all parties by simplifying the process for the person you’re trying to persuade. If they need what you’re trying to sell, then it won’t be annoying, it will be helpful. If you know they won’t be interested in what you’re trying to pitch, then have some tact and lay off. You’re not only wasting their time, you’re wasting your own time too.

A strategic follow up will create opportunities, while an irritating one will inhibit them.

Is Technology Making Us Too Accessible?

September 26th, 2018

It’s undeniable that technology has revolutionized the way we communicate with one another. At this point it’s almost cliché to talk about that fact – it’s typically what you say to a 75-year-old when you’re shooting the breeze – they say something like, “Wow technology really is amazing… I was able to FaceTime my granddaughter this morning!” And you just nod and smile, feeling like FaceTime is old hat.

But, the other piece of technology that’s undeniable is the way that it’s made us constantly available when it comes to personal communication. Work is one thing – at least there’s an out of office or designated time off for most people. But when it comes to personal texts and calls, we are always “on the clock”. Generally speaking, people expect close to immediate responses while texting and when that’s not the case they start to wonder why they haven’t received a reply. Are you mad at them? Are you avoiding them? Are you too busy for them? Do you not care about them? Is there someone else you’d rather be talking to?

To be a sane person though, you need to be able to “go off the grid” without becoming the jerk that never responds, and the lack of that ability creates anxiety in many people. According to a study done by the American Psychological Association, nearly one-fifth of Americans identified the use of technology as a very or somewhat significant source of stress. On a typical non-work day 34% of people surveyed said they were constantly connected to at least one device and 47% said they were often connected. As quoted in a TONIC article about the anxiety involved in texting culture, Natasha Schull, a professor at New York University said, “There’s a huge amount of chance and uncontrollability. You can’t really rest when you have an action out in the world and you haven’t gotten the feedback yet. You get in a heightened state of agitation.” Most of us know how it feels to send off a risky text and wait in agony for a response.

So –– what do you think? How do you balance the ever-present importance of technology with the sanity that comes from being out of reach?

Not Enough Time? Choose Your Battles.

September 12th, 2018

America – The land of the voluntarily overworked, the home of the stressed out. We binge extreme work habits, only to then overindulge in relaxation routines. We don’t drink a glass of wine, we need the whole bottle. We don’t watch one episode on Friday night, we watch the whole season.

So, why do we go to such lengths to perform at extremely high levels when at times they lead us to a lifestyle that compromises our health and sanity? The answer is simple, competition.

If you’re not willing to work harder, there’s someone else who will. Whether there’s someone more committed to fill your role, an improved product to fill your target consumer’s need or another service provider willing to be more attentive to your client’s requests, competition is at the root of our extreme work practices.

As a driving factor for progress and innovation, competition is highly invaluable, but how can we use it to reinforce healthy work habits and stop worshipping the 4 cups of coffee and 4 hours of sleep lifestyle?

By choosing our battles. By being intentional about the time we set aside for rest and relaxation, so that the time we spend working is laser-focused and efficient. We can win the important competitions by working efficiently, verses working senseless hours just to check off a box. Of course, there will be weeks when working long hours is a must, but there will be other weeks when taking time off to recharge is equally important. And to succeed in both your work and personal life you can’t have one without the other.

Using Strategy to Prioritize Goals

August 29th, 2018

With the summer ending and fall nearing, it’s a logical time to evaluate priorities and determine how time can be spent and what can still be accomplished in 2018. There are endless things to do –– time with friends and family, work and professional growth, giving or volunteering time, hobbies… But how do we determine priorities and how our time should be spent?

In a recent book, The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate, author Fran Hauser discusses the value in sitting down and analyzing the way you spend your time and determining if your choices are bringing you closer to your goals.

Hauser described a system she uses to prioritize her goals. She draws four squares on a piece of paper and in each square, she writes an important area of her life such as: Me, Friends & Family, Career, and the World. Then in each square she lists her top priorities related to each section, only allowing herself to write a maximum of three priorities per square, to prevent herself from overextension.

Participating in that exercise led her to an interesting realization. She wrote, “When I took a step back and looked at my squares, it was clear to me right away that my calendar and to-do list were not aligned with the priorities I had identified. I began shifting my schedule and commitments by saying no to and delegating some of the requests that were not aligned.”

This lesson is something that we can all take to heart –– are the things that we’re doing on a regular basis intentionally working toward our goals? Have we even identified our goals in each category? Understanding what the major goals in our lives are is a key component to deciding how to spend the time we have. The sooner goals are apparent, the faster we’re able to use our time in the most effective and efficient ways. How are you spending your time ?

Creativity Block: Inspiration vs. Deadlines

August 15th, 2018

We’ve all had epic moments when inspiration just hits. Whether it’s in the shower, at the gym or at work, the words and ideas seem to flow so quickly and eloquently. Conversely, moments when the deadline is knocking and there’s no creativity in sight are just as common.

So how do we press on to produce quality, creative and innovative content & ideas even on the days when the only creative idea you can think up is what you want for lunch? (if that!)

When the pressure is on, sometimes our ideas are less and less inspired. We start to factor everyone’s opinion in. What would a client want to see? What about a manager? How would co-workers and peers view the idea? While it’s not bad to have your end goal in mind, simply creating something that you think would “check all the boxes” may hinder your creative juices and prevent you from developing an idea of real value.

If it doesn’t make you a little nervous to press “send” on the idea – then chances are it’s not as innovative as you think. Be willing to discuss ideas that may seem out of the box. The worst thing that can happen is that no one likes it, but your bravery to try something different could be received well and your idea can be further developed through the brainstorming of others.

Don’t let the stress of an impending deadline leave you frozen. Take a walk, get some coffee and reevaluate what the main goals of your project are. The creativity will come.