I did something Saturday that I’d been planning to do weeks ago. I went out for lunch, got a big table rather than my usual, pulled out my templates and paper and started working on my business plan. I’ve been wanting to do this since the beginning of the year but I kept letting other things get in the way.
I’m going to talk about my process, share one of my goal and the process I’m hoping to follow to achieve it by using something called the Passion Planner. Just so you know, I’m not getting paid for talking about the planner; I don’t even know if they have an affiliate program. This isn’t a full review of it; just how I’m using it now. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago I led a roundtable for my consultant’s group on the topic of business writing for consultants with the title above. In essence, I put together a presentation and led the group discussion on a bunch of topics I felt were important to share and talk about. This article will encapsulate what I discussed and share some of the examples I used to get my points across.
I started with an overview of the importance of why good business writing could help our businesses. I listed six categories I felt were important for us to consider, those being: Continue reading →
Back in June of 2001 I decided it was time to try to work for myself. I was tired of losing jobs because of things that weren’t within my control. On June 24th of that year I went and registered myself as a business with New York state and was on my way to a bit of independence.
In October of that year I was kind of in recovery mode. I’d had one short gig, given a presentation on leadership in Ohio, my first live presentation, but was mentally still in recovery from what happened on September 11th of that year. I was starting to realize that I wasn’t really sure what to do; after all, when you work in most hospitals in the country there’s not really much advertising going on because most markets only have one hospital. Also, the business of health care is much, much different than any other, although at the time I was trying to be a consultant/trainer in the area of leadership and diversity; I still had no idea how to proceed.
I floundered for about a year after that, first learning of my dad’s cancer diagnosis, then attempts at stemming the tide, which were to no avail. I finished writing my first book Embrace The Lead so Dad would have some time to read some of it before he’d get to the point where he couldn’t do it anymore. Then he passed away and, though it actually took me years to recover from it, initially I was out of it and didn’t care much about anything.
By October of 2002 I was ready to try to get back to work, but I didn’t have a clue how to proceed. The first year, which turned out to only be months, had confused me and I just didn’t know what to do; didn’t know where to go.
Then I got a break. I heard about a meet and greet event at the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce (it goes under a different name now) and decided to check it out. There were a lot of people there and I did my best to press some flesh, if you will. However, the coup I walked into was grabbing the last remaining copy of the Chamber directory, which listed every single member. I figured this would give me a chance to find some people I might be able to talk to.
After a couple of days I’d marked all the people I was going to call. None of them were in my field, but all were either listed as consultants or sole proprietors. This was my first foray into cold calling, but since I wasn’t trying to get any business it was pretty easy to proceed.
If I thought this was going to be easier than prospecting, I was out of my mind. Instead of finding some souls who might talk to someone new to the business, not a single person would talk to me. At least 3 of them said that I could be competition some day and that it wouldn’t benefit them to talk to me; what the hey? There was only one person who talked to me longer than a minute, and he invited me to a meeting that would eventually lead me to join an organization called the Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York. All these years later I’m not only a member but I’m on the board, I’m the manager of the website and the main blogger on the site; some things never change do they? lol
That first meeting was illuminating, and not only did I become a member but I made a resolution on that day that whenever anyone contacted me and asked me for business advice, even if it was in my areas of expertise, that I was going to help them out. Although many people don’t believe me when I say it, I don’t believe anyone is my competitor. If there were myself and 9 other people who presented the exact same material to 100 people, each of us would walk away with at least a couple of clients. It might not be totally equal at the end, but it would prove that everyone has an audience, someone who’s ready to listen to them for advice over someone else.
That’s why over all these years I’ve worked to give advice and help people out, when I’m not trying to entertain them. From the 5th post I wrote on this blog talking about SEO & natural search through my Saturday post on ways business blogging can help, I’ve tried to offer a lot of help on the concepts of blogging and writing, SEO, social media and a host of other things. Sure, I deviate here and there, and I’ll go way off script with posts like talking about favorite children’s stories, but for the most part I’m trying to be helpful; why else would I have written a monster post on mobile speed and detailed all the steps I took unless I was trying to be helpful? It’d be much easier eating cake (mmmmm, cake….).
I’ve been a helper all my life; my wife used to always call me Dudley Do-Right but has appreciated that I’m always trying to do the right thing. I know I’m not alone in trying to help people; after all, there’s Donna and Ileane and Kim and Steve and Suzie and Dana and Chuck and a host of other people who, while trying to also get business, are in the game of helpfulness.
All of us are trying to give back in our own way, and we hope to inspire others to do the same type of thing. Think about your life for a moment; are you trying to be helpful to anyone? Will you be helpful to anyone today?
I thought those things were fairly simple and would help a lot of people out. Yet over the years I see more people who write comments saying they can’t figure out how I have the time to do any writing at all, let alone all the writing and other things I do. Truthfully, writing is the easy part; the rest of it isn’t always so smooth.
That is, unless I schedule my time out in advance. When I do that I accomplish a lot of good thing and push forward on others. I thought I’d share some of my processes in that regard because I’m about to put it into practice over the next two weeks, Monday through Friday, as I get prepared for my wife finally coming back home after 9 months. I think it would be nice to spend some time with her before she’s off again; I might talk about that part at another time.
Just so you know, I’m changing things up a bit this week. I always schedule my time the night ahead and usually that’s as far as I go. This week I’m scheduling out the entire week in advance because I have some things planned that I need to schedule around and I’m also going to be trying to get more rest to see if that helps my concentration any, which I mentioned in my previous post.
The first step is to schedule what time I’m going to wake up. Usually I start my real schedule pretty late, like around 11AM, for those times when I figure I’m probably not going to bed until 3AM or so… sometimes later. Over the course of the next two weeks, the plan is to go to bed by 1:30 and wake up at 9AM. Luckily, with Android I can set the alarm so it’ll go off at that time every day I need it; this week only Friday won’t be scheduled like that because I have a meeting at 8:30 on Friday with my consultant’s group.
Next, I set something that many of you won’t but it’s not a bad thing to do. I set my alarm to tell me to write something in my gratitude journal and then to eat something. This is something I started last June and wrote about on my other blog talking about 5 Steps To A Better Day. Thing is, I don’t do the gratitude journal every day, but I’ve noticed when I do that my days actually do go better. I also realize that waking up earlier means I’m going to have to eat something earlier, which I rarely do, but this might help give me more energy.
Now it’s time to plan the rest of my day. There are things I have to work around, such as today, where I’m being interviewed by someone on the topic of values for a podcast; isn’t that kind of cool?
Here’s how I’ve learned to plan my days. I plan them in time chunks depending on what it is I need to do. For instance, if I need to write a blog post, I schedule an hour. As I’ve started writing some longer posts I’ve found it takes longer than 10 or 15 minutes to write one, but by scheduling an hour it allows me to decide if I’m going to write two blog posts or not. Hey, y’all know how many blogs I’m writing for these days. 🙂 For the book I’m working on I schedule an hour also.
For email I schedule it in 30 minute chunks. Meals get 45 minutes. I also schedule in rest periods, but with my normal scheduling pattern I usually only schedule one break a day, which doesn’t include a second meal period. This week I’m scheduling two periods a day, but the second rest period will also denote the end of my work day. In my previous post I mentioned that I don’t sleep much, so this week it’s my intention to try to get a total of at least 5 hours sleep a day, and if it takes naps to get there then so be it.
As an example, here’s my schedule today:
9AM – Wake
9:15 – Gratitude journal & eat
10AM – Podcast interview
10:45 – return business call from Friday
11AM – work on book
12PM – research VA’s for research project
1PM – rest period
2:15 – post office
2:35 – email
3:15 – article for business blog
3:45 – work on book
4:30PM – pick up Scott from work
That’s pretty much how I do it. I can schedule my entire week based off the first day of the week. For instance, I obviously won’t have another interview this week that I know of, and I really will only have to address writing blog posts one other day this week, which means I can work in some walking time, which should work well since it’s finally going to hit the 70’s here by Thursday. I also won’t have to go to the post office again, and if I do the research properly I won’t need to do anything on the VA front again… but if I do one more day should handle it.
What this means is that I’ll be able to work a couple more things into the week such as marketing time, research time for my consulting business, and maybe a bit of local networking… which I almost never do because I almost never schedule it.
The thing about scheduling things is that you can alter plans when you can and still get most things done. For instance, you’ll notice above that I’ve already had to throw out my second rest period because I agreed to pick up my friend from work to take him to get his new car; aren’t I a nice friend? 🙂 Also, my new book is a priority that I’d love to finish way sooner than the 2 1/2 years it took me to get through my last book; whew!
Truthfully, all of us can accomplish great things in short chunks of time. A couple of years ago I purchased an ebook from a friend of mine named Marelisa Fàbrega titled The One Hour A Day Formula that helped me get part of my mindset in check. I realized that I can’t sit down and write for hours at a time like I could 10 years ago. Breaking things up works well for me, and it’s worked for a lot of other folks you may have heard of. Anyway, check that out, and this isn’t an affiliate link of any kind so I’m not getting anything from it; how many of you would do something like this for free? 😉
That’s my way of scheduling, using the smartphone of course. What do you think, and are you ready to try scheduling your time to see how productive you can be? Let me know; enjoy the week!
Barnes & Noble is getting out of the online movie business as it applies to their Nook line. They sent out email telling us it was coming, and that there were multiple services we needed to consider. One of those services, or apps, is called Disney Movies Anywhere, as any movie that’s either originally from Disney or now owned by them can only be played on our technology through them.
I downloaded the app, opened it up, put in my username and password (which I had to create online) and decided to test things out. I tried downloading a movie… only to have it tell me I didn’t have the storage space for it.
I thought it would automatically download to the SD card but then I remembered on the original Nook there was a setting for that. However, I’ve upgraded and now have the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7″ (I actually have 2 Nooks, but that’s for another time lol) and the app or the Nook, which is a lot like the Samsung phone (which I have) didn’t have that as an option.
Y’all know how I am. Thus, I went online to search for how to do it. I searched and searched for it… for nearly an hour. I finally found the answer here, on a product forum, but the guy wasn’t sure it would work and there was no further correspondence about it.
It worked, so now I’m going to tell you what to do.
Every Android has an app called Play Movies & TV. Open that up, go into settings, and near the bottom is an option for where you want movie downloads to go. Select SD card and it not only works when you download movies from that app but from every other app that doesn’t have a setting to allow you to do it. Problem solved!
I was happy to find that answer. I was also extremely irked. I was irked because during the course of my search I saw that there were lots of people who were looking for the same answer that I was. If they were anything like me, they probably first went to the Android site looking for an answer. Then they went to whichever app site they were trying to download from looking for an answer. Next they went to the Google Play store looking for an answer. After that it was a free-for-all.
That I found it on a Google forum was intriguing but it was also problematic for me. I wondered why none of the above sites or companies decided it was important enough to put that information on their sites to help their customers out. I mean, this wasn’t company secrets; nothing was being compromised.
I came to one of two different conclusions. Either it’s because they felt they were too powerful a company to be bothered by minuscule issues like this or they were so inept that they never figured it out for themselves.
Power is an interesting concept. All of us probably think we know something someone else doesn’t; quite often we’re right. There’s nothing wrong with withholding your knowledge from someone else, especially if you’re not getting paid for it.
The parameters change when someone decides they’re willing to pay you for that information. If it’s a product, those people are expecting that if they have questions that you’ll answer those questions for them, either in a product manual, a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page, or, if it’s the rest of us, in a blog post. It’s one of the reasons I gripe about sites that purport to tell us how to do something yet leave out some of the steps along the way. That doesn’t help anyone does it?
Ineptitude is another intriguing concept. Most of the time it’s not intentional; either someone doesn’t know or they forgot something. None of us are perfect, so we don’t get as mad when that type of thing happens.
It’s when it’s time to correct something, or pony up the rest of what people need to know, especially once the question has been asked multiple times, and the correction isn’t made that we tend to get upset. You should have seen some of the things people were writing on other forums because they were frustrated at not being able to get the answers they were looking for. Who here hasn’t been there?
Back in March I wrote a post about disappointing blog content where I took some of the points that a person wrote for another blog and basically beat them up because she either didn’t say anything new about them or didn’t offer anything that was actually helpful. I’m not saying that every single blog post someone writes has to be helpful; after all, I said in 2012 that a blog’s purpose should be to educate, entertain or inform, which Copyblogger just agreed with in a recent post & video (you think maybe they’re reading this blog? lol).
what I am saying is that if you’re going to either sell something off your site, or purport to be an authority on it, that you also need to be willing to either change something up when people bring issues to you about it or write an addendum somewhere so it’s easy for people to find the answers to their questions, especially if it’s a common question.
At least that’s how I see things. Those of you who will possibly comment are either bloggers, purveyors of social media or consumers; what’s your take on what I see is obviously a major customer service issue?