Strategy & Planning

3 Steps to Moving Forward

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The emails are building up in the background as I open our accounting programme to deal with the receipts that need reconciling.  My phone buzzes and I’m reminded that I need to send out that confirmation form to the client. As I pick up my phone to stop the distraction, I realise that I haven’t booked the travel requirements for the other client who is doing a similar course to the one I just got the notification about.  Distractions abound on every side, from within and without, and compete for my attention as I seek to do the next thing.

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How do you prioritise?

The first step in prioritising requires is knowing all that there is to do (or pretending it needs to be done).  When the world is whirling round in a haze of activity, demands and ever increasing noise, I find one of the most useful things I can do, is get the world out of my head so that I can focus on getting at least one thing done completely.  The trusty notebook by my desk is a scribble of yesterday’s organisation, and I turn to a new page, and begin to put down all the things that are fighting for space in my thinking and attention. I even put down the background noises - home and family stuff such as buy dogfood, or take a child to the dentist.

The second step is to look at all the things - some are important, some urgent, others can be stalled, delayed, even not done.  One thing - just one - is more important than all the others. I love Fridays, because my one thing on Friday is getting Learning BITES out to our people.  What is your number one thing? Put a big red square around it. Turn the page and begin a new list and write that at the top. The way you do it is less important than the action of choosing what is most important.  Once done, look again at the jumbled mess of things that were in your head, and choose what is the next most important thing. Continue this process until you have 3-5 most important things. I find this step enables me to have real focus on the first things, as it reminds me that I have prioritised other things, not just taken one and left all the rest.

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The third step is to set your list aside, and work on the most important thing.  Just that one thing. No distractions, no interruptions, work on it. A note here - it can be really helpful to make sure your “things in my head list” is broken down.  In the back of my head presently are the two twenty-first birthday celebrations coming up for our kids. I can write down Arrange 21st, but this is so big I’m scared to tackle it.  If I write down smaller steps such as Create a guest list, book a venue, decide on catering… these are more manageable.  In a work situation, Open emails and scan for important replies required is much more specific and manageable than Check emails. Keeping your focus on completing the one thing enables you to move forward.  

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You climb a mountain one step at a time.  These small steps take a little time at the beginning of a day, but save me a lot more in wasted and distracted time throughout the day.  They also enable me to be a lot more productive. What will you prioritise today?

Here's to your success!

Tackling Overwhelm

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Getting knocked down in life is a given.  Getting up and moving forward is a choice. - Zig Ziglar

I’ll get that to you in the next couple of days, you tell the customer asking for a quote for the third time that day, your brain secretly whirling at the sheer volume of work that must be ploughed through to get to that number of quotes in your pipeline.  You’ve put the phone down when it rings again, and you see the number of your top client, and know exactly what it is that they will want of you – and you push back a desire to ignore the call as you reach to answer it.

Overwhelm is a very real condition in the business world.  As with all conditions, prevention is easier than cure, but the world we live in doesn’t usually throw its curveballs in regular, anticipated and manageably spaced intervals.  Quite often, they come half a dozen at a time and you’re scrabbling to keep your head above water.  Here are some practical things you can do to tackle overwhelm.

·        Collate. List out all the things you have to do.  Every single one of them.  Even the unimportant important ones.  Get them out of your head and onto a piece of paper, or tablet or however you best do your recording. 

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·        Break it up.  Anything huge on the list, break down into single tasks.  For example, reach my sales goal, happens only one sale at a time, one call or visit.  If the task can be broken down, break it down into manageable pieces.  Book x amount of appointments.  Make the call. 

·        Delegate. Look at your list.  What can you delegate? What can you combine?  What can you cross off or shift to another list because it’s not really an issue at that moment?

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·        Prioritise.  From the tasks that remain, what are the 5 most important things that must be done, in order of most important down to next most important.

·        Process.  Create, refine, and practice a process which completes the task.  Wherever possible, automate, increase efficiency.   

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·        Collaborate.  Talk to the person you report to about your workload and how you can bring it into manageable state.  Get feedback on the roadblocks they see, share your forward plan and invite them to encourage and keep you accountable.

·        Focus.  Get the number one thing done.  Completely, until it’s finished.  Celebrate your success with a moment of satisfaction (I love crossing off the list!)

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·        Move on. Check your list to make sure the priorities are still the same and change if need be.  Get started on the next thing.

 

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The very process of removing the most important thing on the list by completing it creates an energy to move to the next task.  It’s the sheer volume of “stuff to be done” that creates overwhelm and causes us to become frozen in a whirl of mismanagement.  The momentum of achieving the important and moving on to the next task will help you shift from overwhelm into overcoming.  Don’t stay stuck.  Find a way forward.

Here’s to your success!

Strategies To Increase Sales Through Leadership

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Market leadership starts with knowing which market you want to lead. ~ Mike Clark

Is your sales team clear on your strategy?

Is each team member focused?

Do you lead your market niche?

When analysing successful companies, there are many lessons to be learnt. Countless articles are written on leadership styles, culture, vision, values and marketing prowess. Many of these are difficult to duplicate in small to medium businesses. We simply do not have the resources of manpower, budget, market share, brand power, etc. Yet each of these ‘giants’ started small.

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A lesson we can take from their growth story, and continued success, can be summed up in a single word: “Focus” Successful companies get clear on:
Who they are best set up to serve
What they offer
Why people want it & what people are really buying (remember people do not buy what you sell - they buy what it does for them)

Clarity bring focus. One of the best tools to help focus marketing and sales efforts is The Awnsoff Matrix. 

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Use the above matrix to decide which strategy will best suit your growth plans and then aim to be the best at what you do in that space. Owning a space requires clarity on what you say “yes” to and saying “no” to a lot of options.

Where will your your company excel? What strategy is best for your team to use with your client base? Would you be best trialling a few options/strategies and seeing which is the most successful?

Chart your path. Travel the course. Check in on progress – Review. Improve. Become the best at what you do for the people you are best set up to serve.

What Tools Do You Use?

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Everything must be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.  -Albert Einstein

Today finds me back hunting for time. If life is a game then time must be the gold coins you pick you with great delight and glee. They are hidden in the most peculiar places and today I thought I would share some treasures I could not do without and some I have recently found.

Google Doc and their new File Share format is amazing! We completely shifted over to this and have seen a marked difference in collaboration and finding files. A new survey by SearchYourCloud revealed “workers took up to 8 searches to find the right document and information.” “According to a McKinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day— 9.3 hours per week, on average—searching and gathering information. Put another way, businesses hire 5 employees but only 4 show up to work; the fifth is off searching for answers, but not contributing any value.” Source: Time Searching for Information. Google sheets is a new tool we are exploring to reduce the time we spend capturing data - if we succeed on all fronts we will use less reams of paper and save 10’s of hours of data capturing.

I am grateful to Nigel Macintyre from Advance Flooring for suggesting the following social media tools that will deliver you more time in your week but maintain or even enhance your effectiveness.

Klout https://klout.com/home This is what gives you the KPI/score on how all your platforms are performing and more importantly which ones are getting used and which aren’t by your audience. A high profile person like Sonny Bill Williams or Taylor Swift can expect to have a score very close to 100, out of 100.

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A very good company rarely gets past 50 but you can at least see how you are going. You link all your profiles to it. IFTTT(IF this then that) https://ifttt.com/ – essentially a tool you set up like a recipe that if you do something on one profile it automatically does something on others – this way you can concentrate on posting well on the ones that matter(as proven by Klout) and don’t waste time and energy on the others but it is still actually happening.

Buffer - https://buffer.com/ This buffers/drip feeds your media out over whatever period of time you set which saves getting a surge of views etc when you do the posting and then nothing until next time: just spreads it out which is more appealing to followers. Task switching is a thief that is scaringly efficient at stealing time. Computers, internet and social media only make it easier to fall victim. According to www.statista.com, as of 2017 the daily social media usage of global internet users amounted to 135 minutes per day, up from 126 daily minutes in the previous year.

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Reading Jill Konrath’s excellent book “More Sales Less Time”, two time-tracking apps that she has suggested for tracking digital behaviour are: RescueTime www.rescuetime.com for your computer and for your phone or tablet using Moment or BreakFree. At the end of each day the programme tells you how much time you have spent on various applications as well as different websites. If you are prone to self sabotaging distractions, Freedom app https://freedom.to/ will “block all online time-sucks for whatever timeframe you designate”.

Treasure Time

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Time is so abundant and precious. The art is to capture the moments that add the value - Mike Clark

A new month hails the closeness of the middle of the year and with it a reflection on the relentless passing of time. Add to this my sister-in- law’s Dad passing away yesterday and there is little surprise to find me again reflecting on “Time.” Here are 4 TIME thoughts from a pensive point in time.

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Take every moment and cherish it. Savour life. Life is made up of moments worth remembering - the rest is existing, passing time, plodding the treadmill. Tackle those things that rob you. Live with no regrets. Take the risks and live every day knowing that it will pass and, if you have the chance and the choice you can make it a day worth living.

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Immerse yourself in the moment. Live in the now. It is no coincidence that now is called the present – it truly is a gift. Find joy in whatever you put your hand to. Spread joy – it multiples and comes back and blesses you 10 and 100 fold. Invest in the moment and cultivate a lifetime of amazing moments that build up and multiply to a magnificent life!

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Meaningful relationships, work and activities are where time is best invested. Know what is important to you. Be clear on what you value and give time to the important in your life. When we focus on meaningful endeavours we counter the clamour of the urgent. Knowing what has depth and meaning for us allows us to prioritise and make choices quicker and more consistently.

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Everything has a season. It is the highs, lows, bright and dark patches that add the depth and colour to our lives. Allow yourself to be in the season you find yourself in and seek for what you can learn from it. While we may not be able to change the seasons in our life we can always adjust our attitudes – it is not what happens to you, but rather what you tell yourself about what happens to you and how you choose to respond.

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Time is the only thing we are all born equal with. What we do with what we have is our choice. Think about the life you dream of living and know that it is made up of years, months, weeks, days, hours and seconds. Start in this moment to take the path that leads to the life you want.

It starts now.

Here’s to your success!

Being Consistent

 Last year I came across Chris Bates on LinkedIn and was impressed with how he posted every day. At that stage I was doing one blog and a post or two a week. What struck me the most is that Chris, much like myself, chose to share information and interesting viewpoints rather than pitch and sell.  In December as we reviewed our business and marketing plan for 2018 I reached out to Chris and asked if the daily posts worked for him. He generously replied with straight forward answer and advice, “Yep works very well :) stay consistent and be yourself.”  2018 has seen me post most days. It does work. The “be yourself” bit I find easy. The “stay consistent” bit - not so much. I have stuck with it however and these are the 10 things I have learnt about being consistent.   Clarity  matters. Be clear on what you will do, when, with what purpose, and know why you are doing it, then commit to it completely..   Only  commit to what you know can manage ongoing. In the past my tendency to leap into “the next shiny project and idea” has seen me over-commit and over-promise.   Nail  down a time and ideally make it part of a routine - it makes it a lot easier to remember and to action!   Stick  with it! 3 or 4 out of 5 days is not a failure - it is better than before and the more you do it the easier it is to do. Keep going. Habits take a while to form and stick.   Images  make a difference with doing a post. It is a lot easier to write when there is a picture. Look for ways that inspire and make following through easier for you.   Standardise  as much as you can. I aim to share a tip people can apply immediately or to ask a challenging question, or share an insight. Using those 3 formats reduces thinking time which increases my bias towards action. (Nothing quite like over thinking to convince yourself you will get back to it later!)   Tell  someone who can hold you to account. Tip: Pick someone you do not want to let down and whom you know is not going to be ‘nice & understanding’ but rather hold you to account. We all know we are much more likely to do something if someone is going to check in on us.   Examine  your progress honestly and look for what you do well - and repeat it (For me the ‘Images’ and ‘Standardised format’ work well). Also look for what you could improve on and improve on it. We had my brother and sister in law stay for 2 weeks and my post suffered because our routine was thrown. (at the end of the two weeks the “stick with it” while not beating yourself up was very useful!)   No excuses . While this might seem to contradict the above it actually is more aligned with “Sticking to it”. Life happens. Let it be a speed bump, not a breakdown. It is so easy to get to the end of a ‘bad patch’ (my 2 weeks) and go “Oh that didn't work” and not continue. Don’t entertain excuses.   Time  waits for no man or woman! As we teach in our “Time optimisation creating effective teams” course - time is the only thing we are all born equal with. It is what you choose to do with what you have that determines your success.  “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” ― Jim Rohn  What do you need to be more consistent with? When will you start? If you have a tip that you can share to help myself and others be more consistent please do share it!

Last year I came across Chris Bates on LinkedIn and was impressed with how he posted every day. At that stage I was doing one blog and a post or two a week. What struck me the most is that Chris, much like myself, chose to share information and interesting viewpoints rather than pitch and sell.

In December as we reviewed our business and marketing plan for 2018 I reached out to Chris and asked if the daily posts worked for him. He generously replied with straight forward answer and advice, “Yep works very well :) stay consistent and be yourself.”

2018 has seen me post most days. It does work. The “be yourself” bit I find easy. The “stay consistent” bit - not so much. I have stuck with it however and these are the 10 things I have learnt about being consistent.

Clarity matters. Be clear on what you will do, when, with what purpose, and know why you are doing it, then commit to it completely..

Only commit to what you know can manage ongoing. In the past my tendency to leap into “the next shiny project and idea” has seen me over-commit and over-promise.

Nail down a time and ideally make it part of a routine - it makes it a lot easier to remember and to action!

Stick with it! 3 or 4 out of 5 days is not a failure - it is better than before and the more you do it the easier it is to do. Keep going. Habits take a while to form and stick.

Images make a difference with doing a post. It is a lot easier to write when there is a picture. Look for ways that inspire and make following through easier for you.

Standardise as much as you can. I aim to share a tip people can apply immediately or to ask a challenging question, or share an insight. Using those 3 formats reduces thinking time which increases my bias towards action. (Nothing quite like over thinking to convince yourself you will get back to it later!)

Tell someone who can hold you to account. Tip: Pick someone you do not want to let down and whom you know is not going to be ‘nice & understanding’ but rather hold you to account. We all know we are much more likely to do something if someone is going to check in on us.

Examine your progress honestly and look for what you do well - and repeat it (For me the ‘Images’ and ‘Standardised format’ work well). Also look for what you could improve on and improve on it. We had my brother and sister in law stay for 2 weeks and my post suffered because our routine was thrown. (at the end of the two weeks the “stick with it” while not beating yourself up was very useful!)

No excuses. While this might seem to contradict the above it actually is more aligned with “Sticking to it”. Life happens. Let it be a speed bump, not a breakdown. It is so easy to get to the end of a ‘bad patch’ (my 2 weeks) and go “Oh that didn't work” and not continue. Don’t entertain excuses.

Time waits for no man or woman! As we teach in our “Time optimisation creating effective teams” course - time is the only thing we are all born equal with. It is what you choose to do with what you have that determines your success.

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” ― Jim Rohn

What do you need to be more consistent with? When will you start? If you have a tip that you can share to help myself and others be more consistent please do share it!

Process - The Answer To Everything

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Question time finished and after the customary photo I could scarcely wait to call and share my biggest learning with the team – “The answer to everything is process!” Earlier this year I was privileged to hear All Black Ben Smith share some insights on Team Motivation and high performance. My single biggest takeaway is wrapped up in one word “Process.” As we look at the topic of “Flow” with our Learning BITES I felt it was perfect to briefly share my top takeaway.

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The Power of Choice

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I remember the first time I encountered Dale Carnegie’s classic book – How To Win Friends and Influence People. My free-flowing mind had never encountered the idea of choice over its pathway. If it took me to a state of joy, or of anger, or of despair, I had previously thought that I was at the mercy of where ever life and circumstances had led me. The challenge of Carnegie’s book for me was that I have a choice. I can influence the path of my life by the things I choose to think about, focus on and give my time to. So can you.

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Appreciate Your Community

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In the busyness of everyday it can be so easy to get caught up in “our own little world”. We can drive, walk and pass by people and places without even seeing them. How often on your regular run to work have you arrived and had to double check with yourself that you actually drove there - because you really don’t remember it?

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The Best and Worst of Meetings

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The best meetings don’t waste people’s time. They add value to businesses and team members by giving them the opportunity to tackle issues collaboratively, and by involving every member. They are action- based, not appearance-based. In other words,their purpose is to get something done which needs to be done. It may be to create a product or form a strategy, or it may be to foster internal connections and an understanding of each team member’s importance in the business. They value the people and the purpose of the meeting. They have a goal, a structure and an outcome. Whether your meetings are regular or spontaneously as required; contribution, acknowledgement and action focus make the best use of the time your people have chosen (or are required) to invest in turning up.

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START!

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The key to success is to start before you are ready ~ Marie Forleo

How do you create a successful business; run a marathon; raise happy, healthy children to adulthood; build a community? There is a common element in the success of these widely differing goals – each one requires a start. From flipping burgers, to running the first mile, to looking into the face of your baby, to settling in the place you live – each one is a start of something bigger – a small step in large journey. Start is a verb – a doing word. As we begin this new year, here are a few suggestions on making a START.

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Most Important Client Visit of the Year

Regular client visits have long been a passion topic of mine. The little e-book “Repeat Sales Calls made easy” was written in response to a questions I often get in sales training around ‘what to say when you are seeing a customer several times in a year.’

If you regularly visit key accounts, which visit would you say was the most important?

I would argue that...

A million dollar question

Compromise can be the dove of peace or a deadly viper - Mike Clark

What would you do for a million dollars? 
Lie? Cheat? Steal?  How about sell company secrets? Murder someone? 
Many people would tell a lie for a million dollars, some waver on the cheating and stealing and many stop at murder. 

What's Important?

What moments take your breath away? When you stop to reflect on life what is front of mind? Who do you think of and worry about in moments of great anxiety? All of these are indicators of what is important. They make up the parts of your life that...

Counter Intuitive Action

“Sometimes it pays to go against your gut instinct” – Mike Clark

What would you do? You are asked to guess which one of 3 boxes has a large prize in it. You guess box 2...

Try, Try, Try Again!

Think. Decide. Start. Do. Learn. Re-Do. - Repeat - Mike Clark

W.E. Hickson is credited with popularizing the proverb: 'Tis a lesson you should heed: Try, try, try again. If at first you don't succeed, Try, try, try again.

Success is messy. It does not flow as one plans or expects...

How Do You Receive Feedback?

Have you ever heard the words, “I have some constructive feedback” and cringed internally knowing that statement precedes negative feedback? Of course we all know this is meant to be constructive criticism but ….

In a previous blog on 'Feedback and Mindset', I covered how organisations can make receiving feedback easier and a productive element in individual and team development. This week I wanted to speak to you - yes ‘you’ the person reading this. How do you personally receive information that is counter to what you want to hear, and/or what you are currently doing?

My Wonder Woman’s 8 Essentials for Effective Feedback

Today, 1st August, marks the birthday of my best friend, my wife and the most amazing Mum (and yes they are all wrapped up into one very special person). We have 10 great kids between us ranging from 10-25. We are often told we are lucky to have such good kids - while one must admit that there is a solid dash of ‘luck’, it is mixed with loads of hard work, tons of love, regular communication, quality time and lots of feedback. Watching someone juggle 10 kids, run a business and home, volunteer weekly for charity and radiate love is an honour and privilege. I thought I would share some of love and joy through the top 8 skills I have seen Kiri apply when it comes to FEEDBACK.

Do you have a Feedback Loop?

"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen
Feedback is woven into the very fabric of existence. Your brain is wired to receive, process, learn, grow and develop using feedback. You learnt to walk, talk and ride a bike by processing information received through various attempts and adapting until you mastered your new skill.