Archive for the ‘Business Basics’ Category

“That’s Impossible!”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

(Photo: Richard.Asia)

You can’t get what you want and still make everyone happy. . . can you? Yes, it is possible! I have always been a person to find a way to get things done, a method of accomplishing the goals I wish to achieve. Maybe it started in childhood when my mother said, “no,” so I went to my father asking the same question. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the line, “What did your mother say?” Lesson learned; if it doesn’t work the first time–take a different approach. Preparation

“Start out with an ideal and end up with a deal.” – Karl Albrecht

  • First you have to know exactly what you want, define it and determine acceptable variations–this will keep you focused and on track.
  • Prepare carefully and research all aspects of the deal. This will ensure you are fully prepared for any counters you may incur.
  • Negotiation is nothing personal so don’t make it a personal attack on the other party. And don’t take the other party’s actions as a personal attack upon yourself.
  • Look at the situation from the perspective of the other party and show compassion toward their situation.


“If you can’t go around it, over it, or through it, you had better negotiate with it.” – Ashleigh Brilliant

  • Listen to the needs of the other party.
  • Be persistent.
  • Don’t expect to “win” the first time. Your first job is just to start the other person thinking.
  • Work through the terms, discussing multiple resolutions.
Can you accomplish your objectives without compromising your values? Yes!

  • Give a little to allow the other party to feel as if they gained some ground.
  • Admit, when appropriate, the validity of the other party’s arguments.
  • Avoid ultimatums and other forms of non-negotiable demands.
  • You must be fully prepared to lose a great deal in order to make a great deal.


“The first principle of contract negotiation is don’t remind them of what you did in the past; tell them what you’re going to do in the future.” – Stan Musial

  • Work together with the other party for a common resolution.
  • Don’t be selfish; try to base a solution incorporating the needs of the other party.
  • Negotiation is always best if both parties are happy and you can develop a win-win outcome.
  • Put your bargain in terms of his or her needs, advantages, and benefits.
  • Define and set a timeline for the transaction to take place.

Negotiation can bear a negative association so be sure to take the time to fully understand the situation, be a good listener, work to develop win-win resolution and never compromise your values. So dream the impossible dream, achieve your goals and gain a new confidence in life to go out and take the world by storm!

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Get More Done in Less Time

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 1 comment

(Photo: margolove)

How are you possibly going to get everything done today? The answer is simpler than you might think. Focus.

We have all been there, it may be an mounting pile of work, a project needing completion, or a customer presentation you have not even started to put together. You may be thinking you are up against an impossible mission, but don’t give up – just stay focused.

Getting Started

Take time to clear your head and relax so you can start with a clean slate and concentrate. Many people find by allowing yourself a calm before the storm, it allows you to enter into your project with a clear head focused on the your desired out come. For me it could be reading a book and having a cup of coffee; others may go for a walk, hit the gym or read the morning paper. Do whatever works for you, but by allowing your mind to calm you are preparing it for what lies ahead.

Get in the zone

As you prepare to take on your day be sure:

  • The location is free of disruptions.
  • You have everything you need.
  • You are prepared.

I will grab something to drink, go into my office, close the doors, tune to my favorite internet radio station, sit at my desk, clear away any distracting clutter and organize for the day. Do what works for you.

Sometimes all it takes is a change of location to really focus, there are times I have packed up my laptop and found a far corner of the local library for some distraction free concentration. Some people enjoy having music on in the background, others do not. I find music gets me in the zone and allows me to zero in on my task. Whether it be music, a change of location or something else determine what works for you and make it happen.


Task List: It’s best to keep a task list of some sort be it electronic, a note pad, or just a scrap of paper you write your “to do’s” on.

Prioritize and Schedule: Prioritize your task list  by sorting them into urgent, important and non-urgent tasks. If you have trouble prioritizing, use the 80/20 rule (aka Pareto’s law) to determine what the important tasks are.

Staying on Track: Now you have prioritized your day and determined the first item on your list, break it into small pieces. As you do this it will make a large task seem less daunting and as you accomplish each piece you will build momentum as you move throughout the day.

“Your daily schedule helps to focus the mind, holds it steadily to one thing at a time and in the right order. Following a logical sequence tends to eliminate confusion.”

Keep a stringent schedule for your day. As mentioned, I take time in the morning for relaxation so I can come in the day focused. I move right into my projects and phone calls, check and respond email before lunch, come back, work on other projects and phone calls, check email an hour before the day is over, review my next day, prioritize, clear my desk of clutter and I am ready to start the next day with a clean slate.

Not everyone is the same, so when you find a method that works for you, stick with it. Soon you will see you will be getting more done in less time by using focused planning and execution.

More Tips:

  • Only check email twice per day. This is not easy to do, but is productive.
  • Let your calls go to voicemail knowing you can get back the callers when you decide to break or complete your task.
  • Don’t multitask. Multitasking has been proven time and again to be the cause for lack of focus. When you multitask, you never do anything well.
  • Inundated with random thoughts? Keep a notebook, task list, or sticky note pad near by. As I am working I have stack of index cards I use. If something pops into my head I write it down knowing the thought is saved there on the index card for later and I don’t mentally have to keep coming back to it.
  • Schedule time for future tasks. As new tasks present themselves, put them through Pareto’s Law, prioritize them, and schedule them for the future.
  • Rest, eat appropriately and exercise. It has been found these habits are contribute greatly to your level of concentration.
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There’s Karma in Leadership

Thursday, December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

(Image: Jason Christensen)

“Karma is a funny thing.” It displays itself in many forms, is caused by what you do and affects all that happens to you. The results of your leadership in part is determined by karma. How you lead your team establishes what you get back from them.

This is the story of Paul a manager in a corporation. Paul lead a great group of people, this team could really put their heads together and produce results, the leadership was there and the followship was there.  If one member of the team ever became distracted, any member of the team would help him to veer back onto the path and focus. Each gear was well oiled and everyone took satisfaction in their part of a bigger machine knowing they always did their best. When each project was finished, they would celebrate knowing they had completed a difficult task as a team and had done it better than the rest. One day while in a staff meeting, after overhearing his colleague’s boast of their accomplishments, Paul became envious and decided to take personal credit for a project his team completed so successfully as a unit. It made him feel good to reap the reward and praise for his team’s accomplishments; after all he was the leader of the team. News of this got back to Paul’s group and soon after it began to fall apart. The loyalty was no longer there, people started shifting departments and everything Paul had to put together as a leader began to crumble. Paul realized after the destruction of his team, it had been his egotism which caused the unit to fall apart and karma had struck him in a big way.

A display of loyalty to our team and acting with integrity reveals our character and lets people know if you can be trusted; it inspires others to treat you in kind. With karma, you get what you give, so why not give your absolute best?

Karma is the result of our own past actions and our own present doings. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven. We create our own Hell. We are the architects of our own fate.

It is important in your role as a leader to keep yours and your team’s focus on the goal you are seeking and to not allow yourself be distracted by accomplishments going on around you. Forget what others are doing and strive to achieve your own results knowing you and your team have a clear vision and are doing your best to achieve a common goal. You get in return what you invest in your team, so invest well by creating good karma through:

  • Instilling positive thoughts
  • Implementing team building exercises
  • Being a good listener
  • Being approachable
  • Appreciating and rewarding their efforts
  • Training them with classes, workshops, seminars and books

Leadership is the ability to motivate and inspire others to take positive and sustainable action. Energy and enthusiasm are contagious, so surround yourself with as many optimists, go-getters and energetic types as you.

While you are at it don’t forget to invest good karma in yourself by:

  • Maintaining a work/life balance
  • Taking time to enjoy your family and friends
  • Always being kind to others
  • Taking time exercise both your mind and body

Investing good karma in your team and in yourself will garner the same in kind.

Remember to always do your very best. Don’t worry about what others are doing around you. If someone is boasting about something they accomplished do not attempt to outdo them. Take satisfaction in your team knowing you did well, after all this is how Paul got in trouble in the first place. If you take personal satisfaction in a job well done you will never grow tired of doing what is right. If you don’t get discouraged and give up you will reap what you sow by keeping the good karma flowing in and ebbing the bad karma away.

Remote Note:

As a remote user you will often spend a lot of time traveling and as you know during travel people can be tense and angry for things well beyond their control. Take the higher road and don’t let these things get you down, instead be kind and generous to others and you will see they are kind and generous to you. Let somebody merge in traffic, and somebody lets you change lanes without tailgating or blaring their horn. Help somebody pick up the contents of their accidentally-spilt briefcase and somebody holds the elevator door for you. Good ultimately begets good. Instant Karma is a wonderful thing. Who doesn’t love a quick pay-off?

What karma are you putting out there? What are you getting back in return?

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4 Ways to Improve Yourself ~ A cut above the rest.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 Leave a comment


(Photo: Stanley Tools)

You may have heard the phrase “Sharpen the Saw” in Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®. He uses the example of a woodcutter sawing day after day continually losing productivity as the blade of his saw becomes dull. The solution is to periodically sharpen his saw so he can continue to be productive as a woodcutter.

Times have changed!

If you have ever used a hand saw you might think a saw is a saw, it cuts through wood and you send up with two pieces of wood and a pile of sawdust in the end. Although this is true to a point, Stanley® Tools makes a saw, the FatMax® Saw with BladeArmor™, they also make this same saw without BladeArmor™.

“Yeah, so, who cares, what’s the difference?”

Now if you were to take these two saws and try to cut through a 2×4 you would realize the difference. The Stanley® FatMax® saw without BladeArmor™ will cut through the wood and it will do a sufficient job, it might tweak here and there and it might stick a bit from time to time but in the end you have two pieces of wood and a pile of sawdust. Now using the Stanley® FatMax® Saw with BladeArmor™, you will still end up having the same results, two pieces of wood and a pile of sawdust, but you will have it in half the time. Why? Because the BladeArmor™ gives you:

  • 50% less friction
  • 2x rust protection
  • 6x abrasion protection

You might spend a couple extra dollars, but in the end it is worth it because you created two pieces of wood and a pile of sawdust in half the time and you avoided the:

  • Extra friction of the saw cutting through the wood
  • Toll that rust can take on your saw
  • Abrasion caused by cutting through the wood

Now what if you could apply this concept to your day-to-day life. How would you like to go through life with your own armor which provides you:

  • 50% less life friction?
  • 2x protection against the corrosion caused by life?
  • 6x less abrasion from others?

You would love it! So why not take the time to upgrade your saw?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How sharp is your saw?
  • Does it cut smooth?
  • Does it cut straight?
  • Does it cut through wood like a hot knife through butter?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then take a step back and look at where you can make improvement to your skills.

What needs to be done to improve your saw?

First, you need to take time for yourself.

It is all too easy in this industrious world we live into skip a meal, forget to exercise and not sleep as much as we should. All of these things are important to keeping you healthy, energetic and alert. According to improving these areas of your life can help you to:

  • Enhance your mood
  • Combat disease
  • Manage weight
  • Boost your energy level
  • Promote better sleep
  • Improve your memory
  • Enrich your health

Second, spend time with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Studies have shown our social relationships can directly affect our mental and physical health. In order maintain solid relationships it is important to be:

  • Approachable
  • Genuine and honest to others
  • A good listener
  • Loyal and respectful of confidentiality when others confide in you
  • Supportive of their situations and to add perspective to what they say
  • Considerate of your relationships and giving of your time and self

Third, contrary to what you might think; YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING!

Take some time to learn. By taking time to improve your mental skills whether it be through formal classes, reading, writing or even teaching others. It will help you to:

  • Be more productive and efficient
  • Ensue a competitive character giving you an advantage over others
  • Enhance career opportunities
  • Improve your skills by getting better at what you do
  • Become a disciplined individual

Lastly, take time to enjoy life!

When was the last time you jumped out of bed in the morning exhilarated for the day with a complete calm, not thinking about the issues affecting your life? When is the last time you dived into a pile of autumn leaves, without thinking how dirty you were going to get? When is the last time you jumped in a puddle, with no concern of getting wet?

“Childhood is that state which ends the moment a puddle is first viewed as an obstacle instead of an opportunity.” – Kathy Williams

It’s about:

  • Finding peace in your life
  • Taking the time to appreciate all your existence has to offer
  • Enjoying those little circumstances you encounter each day which brighten your spirit.

There are a number of ways you can cultivate your spirituality:

  • Go for a nature hike
  • Listen to music
  • Visit a local gallery to appreciate some art
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Pray or attend church

“Everyday is a new opportunity…so don’t waste it!”

Each day provides you a new opportunity to renew your being. Take time for yourself, be social, spend time learning and enhance your spirit.

What will you do to improve your saw?

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ON A BUDGET: Motivating your team, bolstering loyalty & elevating morale. (Full Series)

Monday, November 23, 2009 2 comments

(Photo: stopnlook)

(Originally posted as a series November 16 -20, 2009 on The Blog of Jason Christensen – “Your Life as a Remote User”)

Times are tough right now. Raises are not being doled out, salary’s are being cut, 401K’s are not being matched, people are losing their jobs…morale is low. Many managers may not be concerned if their remaining employees are unhappy; where do they think they are going to go in this economic environment? Don’t be short sighted; employees who are not happy are looking elsewhere and when the climate turns many will abandon ship. Now is the time to keep your employees exhilarated!

“So what can you do to motivate a team and create loyal employees when morale is low?”

In this economy it’s imperative employers concentrate on non-monetary motivating factors by:

  1. Taking a genuine interest in people
  2. Keeping an open line of communication
  3. Helping people to understand the importance of their role
  4. Bestowing recognition on your team
  5. Cultivating career development plans


1. Take a genuine interest in people.

When times get tough people band together; they take a bona fide interest in one another.

  • Find out what is going on in the life of your team members
  • What is important to them right now
  • Let them know you understand
  • Do what you can to help them
  • Offer advice if they are looking for it

Try making a mental list of everyone you may encounter today; think of what they are working on or what they have going on in their life and try to relate to them. People appreciate it when you take an interest in their lives. It will increase morale, let people know you care and help them realize they are not just another number in the corporate books.

Remote Note:

When your team is remote and you do not see them face-to-face this can be especially challenging. Take the time to work with each of them personally. Be sure to contact them weekly even if it is just to touch base. A one-on-one call will let them know you are thinking of them and will be there help should anything come up.

Keep in mind; this may be something you have to ease into if you have not shown an interest in the past; otherwise they may think you are prying and become suspicious. So take it slow, work to re-develop those relationships and with any luck it will lead to a motivated team, stronger group bond, greater retention rates, and increased team morale.

Think of others first, show interest in their lives, offer a helping hand.

What are some ideas you have to strengthen the bonds with a team?
Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

2. Keeping an open line of communication.

An open door policy sends a message to your coworkers you are approachable, willing to listen and discuss issues as they come up. An open line of communication also acquaints you with your team in order to know what is important to them. If you are familiar with their goals and desires, you will be able to lead them more effectively grooming them for the next steps they wish to achieve. Without and open line of communication you are leading them blindly and will not get the synergies needed to achieve your goals.

  • Ask employees for their ideas
  • Be a good listener
  • Take notes
  • Work to find ways to incorporate their ideas into the corporate vision

You may be surprised at the good points of information they will provide to you. And when you do use their ideas and the employees see them in action you will be surprised by their loyalty to you and the company.

Don’t forget, communication is a two way street. People feel important when they know what is going on with their company. They feel a sense of power when they are “in-the-know” on breaking news. Reach out to your staff when there is news to be shared, organize your thoughts and convey a clear, concise, informational message without breaching company confidentiality.

Remote Note:

It can be tough to have a so called “open door” when you lead a team of remote users. Here are some tips to help:

  • Always take their calls or return their calls as soon as you are available.
  • If you only have a moment, let them know and schedule a definitive time to speak with them further.
  • Hold weekly conference calls to allow for corporate communications, success and improvement stories as well as an open forum for issues affecting the team.

Keep an open line of communication, be a good listener and make them feel important.

What are some thoughts you have to enhance the communication within a team?
Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

3. Helping people to understand the importance of their role.

People like to feel needed, so helping people understand their contribution to the corporation and showing them their efforts DO make a difference will increase their morale. It is important for people to understand how each gear turns to keep the machine operating effectively. They need to understand the part they play in the overall corporate structure and the flow of the business.

Take a particular function in your business as an example:

  • Where was it generated what is the intended outcome?
  • What path had the process taken before it reached your team?
  • Where did it go afterward?
  • What was the result and how did it contribute to the goals of the company?

It is important to illustrate this so people understand their role is not idle and without function.

Another way to generate a feeling of contribution to the company is to delegate authority. Delegate authority by:

  • Encouraging people to take on additional responsibilities
  • Aligning them with the company goals
  • Letting them take ownership of certain processes.

This increase in leadership responsibilities will build the bench strength of your team and increase fellowship amongst employees. Furthermore take the time to publicly recognize them and convey how their initiatives helped the company and/or the customer. Better yet invite the customer to take the time to provide a public testimonial of the employees efforts. This kind of respect in a timely manner will go a long way with your team.

Remote Note:

When your team is part of a remote workforce it can be especially challenging for them to understand the role they play in the company and the path processes take from inception to fruition. By illustrating to your team the route a business process takes whether it is through a slide presentation or work flow chart it helps them understand the function of their position and how they can affect the overall process.

In addition, it is important for the remote work force to understand the appropriate contacts for varied situations they encounter in their day to day. This will help them know where to go for answers when a problem arises.

Help your team to understand their overall role in the company and build bench strength through delegation.

What are you doing to build the bench strength of your workforce?
How do you communicate workflows and processes within your group?

Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

4. Bestowing recognition on your team.

Expendable funds are minimal, but how do you recognize your team for a job well done? One of the best ways is to allow your employees a greater stake in the company. By offering your team options in the organization it generates a deeper interest in helping the company to succeed. The closer the ties, the more loyal they will be and the more desire they will have to look out for the best interest of the company.

A lesser option is to provide them with a gift they would not otherwise spend their own money to purchase. In better times companies had gift catalogs allowing the staff to pick from a selection of nice items. In today’s climate a more resonable token may be company logo merchandise. It allows the employee to boast his affiliation with a nice corporate logo while at a minimal cost to the company.

Let’s face it, people enjoy recognition, but the timing and context have to be right. Be sure to:

An award is good, but bragging rights are better!

Remote Note:

With a team of remote users it can be difficult to publicly recognize a job well done. A great vehicle for recognizing a team member is through a weekly newsletter. Create a short article touting the wonderful job they did and if you can get a customer testimonial it makes the achievement all the better. There is nothing like being able to show others your achievements right there in print.

Another great method is on your weekly team call where their colleagues can applaud them in person. It is always nice to have a quick pat on the back for a job well done.

What a terrific way to spark a friendly internal competition for your team members in order to vie for that top spot.

Awards and recognition generate loyalty and elevate morale.

What forms of recognition do you use?
How do you recognize an employee for a job well done?

Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

5. Cultivating career development plans.

One of the worst feelings as an employee is not knowing where you are going with your employer. Take time with the individuals on your team and sit down with them to develop a clear career path showing them the next steps they can take based on their achievements. A great time to cover this is during biannual performance reviews. Take this time to provide constructive feedback AND discuss with them what they can do to grow with the company. Find out what you can do to help each of your team members advance and work to make it happen. Not only will it help them, but as management sees future leaders continually being produced from your staff it lets them know the value you offer to the company.

Develop your team using:

  • Books and short articles on related topics
  • Online Courses
  • Out of office training workshops or seminars

When people are excused from their regular duties for a short period of time to participate in these type of events, it makes make them feel important amongst the crowd.

Out of sight out of mind.

Remote Note:
When you manage a remote team it is challenging to enhance the visibility of the work your team does. Often their achievements get overlooked by people who work in the office since they do not see your team members regularly. This can make it difficult for members of your team to exceed in the workplace and continually grow with the company. It is important to create campaigns to tout the accomplishments of your team. It could be through a company newsletter or possibly a weekly email stating the highlights of the week. Be creative and find a method which fits your corporate structure.

Take time with your team to make sure you understand what their goals are with the company and help them to develop and achieve those goals.

What have you done to develop your team?
What are some methods you use to boast the triumphs of your team?

Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

Keep your team on board! Think of others first by conveying an interest in their lives, talking with them frequently, letting them know they are doing a good job and you appreciate their contributions, then help them to develop in their careers. With any luck it will lead to a motivated team, stronger group bond, greater retention rates, and increased team morale.

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“HELP! I’m buried under here!”

Saturday, November 7, 2009 2 comments

(Photo: Tasja)

Do you ever feel like you are getting buried under a ton of bricks, by your work? Like you are unable to breathe and no matter what you do you will never catch up with your workload? Well join the club; the club of millions of people across the globe fortunate enough to be employed in this age of cutbacks and layoffs. Everyone is taking on heavier and heavier loads, bearing more weight for the company. And you’ll do it without a flinch or the bat of the eye, after all look at your alternative – unemployment! You may be only one person but you need to learn to cope and to manage yourself as a more productive and effective employee.

Prioritizing can help!

This is one of those times where you need to spend a little time to save yourself even more time. Start by writing down each item on your to do list. It’s okay if you fill up the whole page, just take the time to get your list written down no matter how big or small. Next, label each item prioritizing it as an A, B or C item.

  • A = Item which is urgent in respect to time. No matter the importance it needs to be done right away.
  • B = Item of importance and somewhat time sensitive, but not with an immediate need.
  • C = Item which is not urgent or does not have a time line.

Once you have each item prioritized, the path is clear. Start with the A items, work through each task, move to the B items, complete each task and eventually move on to the C items completely clearing your list. Well maybe not. You see it is not likely your list will ever be clear and it this economic climate you should be concerned if you don’t have another project in the queue. It is likely you will continually be adding new items to your list which is why you will need to reprioritize as new tasks come in. Each task will vary in importance so be flexible with your priorities allowing new projects to take precedence when need be.

As times passes, items which were lower on the list, often increase in priority. Something which was not important last week could take precedence today; so it is important to review your list daily. As new items keep piling up taking precedence; when will you ever get to those C items? Great question.

A and B items can frequently take much time and concentration, but if you use your time wisely, you will find time to complete all your tasks. First take a good look at those C items determining if they are really something you need to get done or are they non-productive filler items which can be scratched off your list. Next, take a look at your schedule to find bits of time where you will not be able to focus accurately on the important A or B tasks; this could be on the seat of airplane, on the commute into work or while waiting for an appointment; no matter the case, use this time to knock out a few of those C items. It could be a phone call or quick email, either way use this gray time do what you can to complete a few C items.

What if you have multiple high priority items needing completion right away? Take a look at each item determining which item is most important or urgent. If you come across a hard decision it becomes a judgment call. No one knows your job better than you so make the call. If you are not confident in your ability to do this, contact your manager present him with the conflict, provide potential solutions, and then ask for assistance.

When you are feeling buried alive remember to ask yourself what is important, prioritize it and accomplish your goals one by one.

  • Are there other things you can prioritize in your life?
  • What other methods do you use to get yourself out from under the workload?

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Do you want the good news or the bad news?

Thursday, October 8, 2009 Leave a comment

(Photo: striatic)

The bad news is; you really messed up this time! I can’t even believe it!!! How are you going to let your boss know about this?

The good news is; you can make it easier on yourself and all who are involved.

Before you go out with the doom and gloom:

–Stop what you are doing.
–Take a look at how you arrived where you are.
–Determine what you learned along the way.
–Discover what you can do to correct the situation going forward.
–Determine a system to put in place in order to avoid it happening again in the future.

You see, you learn from ALL of your experiences and when bad things happen you can learn from those too. Don’t just take the bad news alone, discover what you can do with it and move forward.

Learn from your mistakes.

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