Follow Up Like A Boss

Follow-Up

A friend of mine owns a very successful business called Westside Rentals. He built it from the ground up over 10 years ago and now it’s a multi-million dollar company. Mark is a very generous and friendly guy and being an extrovert he gets asked to speak frequently and accepts more times than not. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with him on occasion and hear him present. No matter where he speaks, he always concludes with the following:

Here’s my email address (usually it flashes on the screen), feel free to contact me, I’d love to hear from you.

But here’s where it gets interesting. The more successful you are, the less available time you have. So the caveat is Mark check’s his email several time daily, but one tactic he uses is if he responds to you, he’ll ask that you send him an email 2 weeks later to follow up. 90% don’t. For the 10% who do follow up, he’ll usually stay in contact with you.

This story is unique, but the principle is not. I can’t stress enough as a coach how much people today don’t follow up. We live in a world where distractions are plentiful and focus is becoming a lost art. For example if you send an email to someone you’re trying to contact, the rule of thumb is try 3 times. That means if you don’t get a response within a week, try again. If you don’t hear back after that, try once more reminding the person you understand they are busy, but you’d love to hear back from them. Be specific. Be brief. Be courteous.

Since only 10% of people actually do follow-up, those are the ones who usually reach their goals. Not because they are pushy. Not because they are arrogant. But because they are persistent. Most people give up after contacting someone once because they take it personal. Someone not responding to you isn’t rejection, it’s usually them being too busy or intending to respond, but forgetting to.

Following up is similar to sales. Rarely do you get the sale the first time around, but if you keep at it (albeit you’re not sleazy or annoying) you usually get better results than not. When you follow up, you stay on that person’s radar. Just because they don’t respond initially doesn’t mean they’re not receiving your message. That’s why the “3 times” rule comes in handy. If after 3 tries you still don’t get a response, it probably means you’ll never hear back from them. Go back to what I said earlier: the more successful a person is, the less available time they have. So don’t take it personal, rather take it as a challenge.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to do what everyone else isn’t doing. Follow up like a boss and be a part of the 10% that makes it happen.

OED: Obsessive Efficiency Disorder

work smarter

I admit I’m obsessed with efficiency. To me it’s about working smarter, not harder. Planning my week out ahead of time means I can maximize my time the way I want. Since time is equal to all, I just want to make sure I’m optimizing mine.

For those of you who can’t relate because you feel disorganized, here’s some practical tips to control your schedule:

1) Use your Smartphone Calendar Daily. iPhone users have the luxury of syncing everything (as long as you have Apple products) so once you devices are connected, you have no excuse to forget dates, run errands and pay bills with alerts and reminders. There are three color coded categories preset: work, home and social/out. I encourage you to put everything you do in your phone. That includes meetings, when to exercise, follow-up emails, paying bills, projects, etc. Putting events in your phone means you don’t have to remember them. It’s like working on auto-pilot. Our brains aren’t meant to multitask (no matter what you’ve heard before), therefore make it easier on your brain by setting alerts.

2) Network Spreadsheet. Relationships are your greatest asset. Remember that. It doesn’t matter how career-driven or lazy you are, you need people. One thing that has helped me tremendously is tracking my contacts. I use Numbers (Apple’s version of Excel) to organize all the people I’ve met into different lists (similar to Twitter). In each category, I color code based on how I last contacted someone: black – email, blue – phone/Skype, green – in person, orange – text and red – need to get back to them. I also date it so I know how long ago since the last time we communicated. On top of that I use LinkedIn to write a note to myself about how we met and what we last talked about so I can pick up the conversation where we left off. Also take into consider prioritizing. I go from left to right. On the left side are people I need to keep in touch with so the frequency is more. Towards the right are people I just met so it’s not as frequent, but if our relationship grows they move “left” on the spreadsheet. You don’t have to use a system like this, but its just an example of how I organize my network.

3) Leave Gaps. As someone who’s goal-oriented, I like to achieve. The worst thing I can do is pack my schedule too tight where I get behind early and can’t finish what I intend to accomplish. Let’s say you have a coffee meeting that is supposed to last 30 minutes. Factor in the commute, extra time to talk, one of you being late, etc. and I’m sure the time slot allotted will be much higher. It takes some experimentation, but in the end you can estimate pretty accurately over time. We live in a world where everyone is in a rush, so why not go against the grain? I’m not saying be slow, but give yourself extra time to get stuff done. Back to the whole multitasking concept, give yourself a break between tasks to rest. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to make mistakes. On a personal note when I planned the majority of my wedding, I put this idea of “leaving gaps” into action. As I worked in tandem with our wedding coordinator, I created a schedule for everyone involved (imagine getting separate timelines from the groom). The result: our family and friends said we were the most relaxed couple they’ve ever seen get married. That’s because the planning and preparation were done ahead so once it was showtime, we had nothing to be worried about.

You can tell by these examples that efficiency matters to me. It’s what I pride myself on and the standard I hold others to. I realize everyone doesn’t think the same as me and that’s fine. But if any of these tips can help you become more efficient, this post was worth writing. So have fun working smarter, not harder!

3 Ways Leaders Are Willing, Not Ready

LEADERSHIP

Are leaders born or made? That’s a debate this article can’t cover (in under a 1000 words) so I won’t go there. Everybody wants to be a leader, but if you knew what it really entails you might change your mind. In previous positions I’ve held, I learned over time that leadership isn’t as glamorous as advertised. In order to be an effective leader you have to be willing to absorb the following 3 things:

1) Willing to Take The Blame – If you want to lead, you have to accept being the goat. Not the “greatest of all time,” but pointing the finger at yourself when your team fails. It may not be your fault, but when something goes wrong people usually point “up.” I remember a time one of my staff members said something insensitive during a presentation and one of the audience members expressed their displeasure to me immediately. It wasn’t my mouth that this inappropriate comment came from, but after discussing it with my colleague, I decided to publicly apologize to the crowd. I wasn’t thrilled about it, because it wasn’t my “fault,” but it was under my watch so I took the fall for my team.

2) Willing To Deflect Praise – If you love getting credit for success, get out of leadership. Books, media and social networks paint a different picture, but rarely do leaders get praised when things go well. In fact, the better you get at leading and the longer you do it, it becomes an expectation (not appreciation). It’s like the obedient, older brother who gets overlooked by the prodigal son by his father. “Hey, I’ve been doing great all this time, but now this delinquent boy comes home and you give him a party?” Thanks for noticing. Not only do you have to take responsibility for your team’s blunders, but you also don’t get rewarded for achievements. Leadership isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.

3) Willing To Follow – Maybe the hardest lesson to learn as a leader is managing your ego, not the egos of others. I learned this as a coach. Sometimes you’re right and they’re wrong, but you still go with their decision even when it turns our bad. Why? Because leadership is about developing people. If you make all the decisions, followers become dependent on the leader and never learn to soar on their own. When you delegate responsibility/let your team make decisions and live with the outcomes, they become leaders during the process. It’s not about telling people what to do and enforcing it. That’s called dictatorship. It’s why we hate micromanagers. The best way to illustrate this concept is an inverted triangle. The leader is at the bottom and his/her job is to support the people “above” them. Serve up and you’ll never fall down.

The better question to ask when it comes to leadership is: are you willing? Leadership is not for everyone and that’s okay. There can only be so many chefs in the kitchen, then it becomes too chaotic. Leaders are thrown into situations where they aren’t prepared all the time. It’s about knowing yourself, knowing your values and knowing your role. You don’t need an official position to lead, you just have to be willing to do the tough things and not get applauded for it.

The Benefits of Scary Dreams

Scary dreams

Nightmares suck. No matter the age, they feel real. As a kid, it’s hard to go back to sleep and as an adult you try to analyze the meaning of them which keeps you up. But when are scary dreams a benefit?

When they are your desired dreams. If you evaluate your dreams and they’re not big enough to scare you, they’re probably too small. Size matters and there’s no reason to dilute your dreams because of your life stage. Sure, as you get older your situation becomes more complicated, even layered, but now you just need to be more disciplined to make it happen.

Most of the time you know WHAT your dreams are, but HOW to achieve them is a completely different story. That’s why during this 8-week online bootcamp geared towards achieving work-life balance we’ll break down what it takes to get there. Dreams appear monumental until you break them into smaller steps. As a coach, that’s what I help my clients do. Register here and we’ll turn your dreams from scary bad to scary good.

Soaring Over California…Or Wherever You Live

Soaring

The first time I went on the Soaring Over California ride at Disney’s California Adventure I was in awe. Most of the scenic icons in the Golden State I’d seen before, but not at a bird’s eye view. In addition to the sights, they added smells and sounds that made you feel you were right there on location.

Disney has a knack for transporting you to grand experiences by using the five human senses: touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. But what they really do best is offer: perspective. Rarely do they create something new, but they enhance the ordinary way you look at things and make it better.

What if you took this approach to your personal life? Rarely can you change your circumstances, but you can change the way you choose to view it. That’s the daily choice you have: “re-framing” your life. That’s what I’ll discuss in this 8-week online bootcamp geared toward work-life balance. It’s making little choices that make a big difference. Sometimes it’s about looking at life in a different way. Choice is a powerful thing and during this course I’ll help you become the 2.0 version of yourself.

Why You Shouldn’t Grow Up

Imagination

Being a parent these days, there’s more pressure to help your kid advance than ever. Start applying to a good preschool once they’re born, research the best elementary and middle schools early and what high school gives them to best chance to get into a good college?

Slow down. There’s things that kids do much better than adults, such as imagination. Kids don’t need to be told to dream big because they already do that. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we were told our dreams need to be scaled down to realistic. Maybe it’s from rejection, failure or being told “you can’t do that.” Whatever it is, it needs to stop.

Some people ask me, what does your ideal client look like? Honestly, it’s someone who has an open mind and is willing to try new things even if they don’t fully believe it can work. It’s the “right brain” that has to be opened up in order to imagine big possibilities. So if you’re struggling to find the free time to dream again sign up for my 8-week online bootcamp geared towards work-life balance. Just because someone told you to stop dreaming doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. Let’s go back in time and start dreaming again.

What Work Life Balance Really Means

work life balance

70% of people struggle with work-life balance, but what does that mean? Essentially it’s when either your personal or professional life is dominating the other. Here’s two examples, if you’re a career driven individual who finds yourself in your 30’s and out of the dating scene for a while because working overtime is the norm OR if you’re a stay home mom who manages a household of 5, but never has any time of your own that’s work-life imbalance.

Easy to identify, difficult to resolve. At the core of work-life balance is feeling a lack of control. Autonomy is one of our primary motivators in life, according to Dan Pink, so when our professional or personal life is overwhelming the other we feel like the victims of our consequences. The same reason why entrepreneurs start their own business is what the average person striving for work-life balance wants: freedom.

There’s a big movement in the entrepreneurial world that doesn’t involve making more money. It’s a little thing called lifestyle design. It means you want to spend your time doing what you want, where you want, when you want. Sounds like a glorified vacation, but it’s much more than that. Fast forward your life until you’re in your 80’s. If you looked back at your life at that point, what decisions would you wish you made differently? Probably anything that deals with spending more time WITH others or ON yourself. That’s why time, not money, is the most valuable currency.

If you’re still confused, let’s talk about the exact opposite of work-life balance: living with regret. People who struggle with work-life balance experience this “inner-tension” of feeling guilty for not taking action. As a Career Coach, most of the clients I’ve worked with over the past 8 years pay me to help them make a career transition, but you know what they really need help with? Confidence.

I can’t force anyone to do anything. That may not sound very marketable, but it’s the truth. I can make suggestions, but ultimately it’s up to the client how much effort, openness and passion they put into accomplishing the goals they set to achieve. But this is where work-life balance fits in. You know what your desired goals are, but you may not know how to get there. That’s where I come in. Work-life balance is about prioritizing. Goals aren’t the same. Some are more important than others. You are a specialist. If you were good at everything, you wouldn’t need anyone’s help. Therefore identifying your strengths, then maximizing them is crucial to achieving work-life balance because your strengths are a “means” to an end (your goals). Work-life balance is a constant challenge. In fact, it’s not a destination, it’s a journey. You need accountability, milestones and motivation to get there. I want to help.

Dreams: Size Matters

dream-big-up-movie

How big are your dreams? Maybe a better question is how long will your dreams take to accomplish?

Life can be rough and as we get older our dreams tend to shrink in size…why is that?

Disappointment. Failure. Rejection.

No one likes to experience those feelings, but if you dwell in the past, thats’ where you’ll stay. Look at Carl from the movie UP. What he thought he was chasing wasn’t really what he wanted. You and I are inspired by dreamers and when we hear stories of people achieving their dreams it makes us re-evaluate ours.

Today is a new start. Jot down what you want to accomplish in the next year. They can be personal or professional goals, but whatever they are write them down. Now go and share them with someone so they can hold you accountable for your progress. Remember the bigger the dream, the longer it takes to accomplish. No one says to dream small, so stop putting limits on yours.

If you need help join me for this 8-week online bootcamp geared towards work life balance. What does work life balance have to do with your dreams? Everything. If you don’t have the time to work on and complete your dreams, what’s the point of having them in the first place? That’s what we’ll do together, free up time to make your dreams a reality. Sign up and let’s dream big, together.

Planning Your Next Vacation

beach

When’s the last time you went on vacation? When’s your next one planned? Sometimes life happens between trips and you either reminisce about past ones or dream about new ones. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what if life felt like a vacation?

Remember the commercial where two people are laying out in the sand relaxing on a deserted island? Life may never feel like that, but the idea of “freedom” does. Most of us work long hours with the hope one day we’ll be able to sit, relax and spend time with loved ones during retirement. But what if you have limitations when you get older? What current opportunities are you passing up instead of living in the moment? How would you live differently if you knew you were going to die in a year?

Sounds extreme, but it’s not. Money gives us this false sense of security, but it could be taken away as quickly as your health. You have a choice today to spend it the way you want to. No one is in control of it except you. That’s why I designed this 8-week online bootcamp geared towards achieving work life balance. During this course, not only will you learn about “carpe diem,” but you’ll actually live it!