Leadership, Personal Growth, Systems, Time Management

Time Management is something I am frequently asked about.  How can I get more done with less time?  How can I get everything done I know I need to do?  How can I possibly squeeze more hours into the day?  These are questions I hear all the time.  It sometimes seems everyone is looking for the secret to time management.  Here are some secrets, tips and ideas I would like to share with you.

Secret #1 – You can’t manage time.  Time marches on no matter what you do and, try as you might, you can’t manage it.  Changing your thinking here can have a dramatic result.   Accept that there is no such thing as time management, only SELF management.  You can’t manage time, but you can manage yourself.

Secret #2 – There is no magic bullet and what works for one person, does not always work for another.  There are many books out there offering systems and advice.  Read them, try them, modify them, find what works for you and stick to it. A system only works if it is followed religiously.

New Idea – Many people have heard about the concept of a default calendar.  That is where you set up a schedule that includes all the activities that you need to do and then fill the slots with the appropriate appointments and activities.  Great idea, problem is I have found very few people who can actually make this work.  Here is a compromise.  When you do your quarterly planning, (you do plan quarterly right?), set up a weekly default calendar.  Use it as a guide not your actual calendar.  Print it out, keep it handy and then, when you start to schedule appointments and activities you can check off what you have actually scheduled.  This way you control calendar instead of it controlling you.

Once you begin to understand that time is nothing more than a measure and it really your ability to manage yourself that is holding you back, it’s a whole new ballgame.  Take a good hard, honest look at how you are spending your time.  Ask yourself a few questions to get to the heart of the matter.  What are you doing that is not effective?  What are you doing that you should not be doing?  What should you be paying someone else to do?  How much time could be saved by planning ahead or organizing your desk?

Now try to work in the pre-vacation mode for the majority of your time.  Have you noticed how much you get done the day or two before you go on vacation?  That is the pre-vacation mode.  The difference between that time and regular time is an attitude change.  You accept that you must get everything done so you can go on vacation.  You avoid distractions and maintain focus and work at a very high level.  Try and do that every day and watch time multiply!


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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth

Ready or not, the New Year is here – are you ready?  Well, that line applies to you if you bought this book at the beginning of the year.  However, I feel it applies to everyone.  Whenever you have opened this book for the first time, it is intended to be the beginning of a new year for you.  If you are ready, start the year today and this first chapter deals with the first week of your upcoming year.  The secrets to success in the upcoming year are not really secrets, they just take discipline.

Secret #1 – Set Goals and write them down.  It’s the beginning of the year so now is the time to reflect and choose some FIVE year goals.  What does your business and your life look like in 5 years?  Once, you’ve set your FIVE year goals, set some THREE year goals.  Now, take those THREE year goals and determine your ONE year goals.  These should be related to your longer term goals.  Write them down and put them someplace where you will see them every day.  Put them in more than one place if that insures you will see them every day.

Secret #2 – Break your ONE year goals down into quarterly objectives.  What do you need to achieve each quarter to reach your goals?  A quarter is thirteen weeks and I will remind you every thirteen weeks to update your goals and objectives for the upcoming quarter.  You need to review your progress every quarter.  This will keep you on track throughout the year.  If you wait until the end of the year to measure your progress you may find it is too late to achieve those goals.

Secret #3 – Create an action plan.  What are the activities you need to do each week to accomplish your objectives?  The most important activities on your action plan are those that lead to an improved bottom line.  Don’t fill your action plan with busy work.  Fill it instead with your top productivity tasks.  If you wait until the end of the quarter to take action it will be quite difficult to reach your goals.  But, if you take action every week, reaching your goals is a snap.

Secret #4 – Schedule the action items in your calendar.  If you treat your activities like appointments, they are far more likely to actually get done.  Check them off as you complete them.  Reschedule any that didn’t get done into the next week.  You must be committed to completing these actions.  Being too busy to get them done will not keep you moving forward toward your goals.

Secret #5 – Have some accountability.  Share your goals and action plan with someone and ask them to hold you accountable. Don’t keep your goals to yourself, tell someone important to you so they can help keep you on track. It’s much easier to let yourself off the hook than explain to someone else why you aren’t working your plan.

That’s five simple secrets to success.  This book is full of helpful tips for you to use every week, but thirteen weeks from now, I will be checking in and reminding you to set your 2nd quarter goals.  The first week has already begun so get cracking on those goals and plans.


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Leadership, Marketing, Profits, Sales

Are you attracting the customers you want?  Do you enjoy the customers you have?  Are they your best customers or have you settled for whoever you could get?  A successful, profitable business relies on a steady stream of the right customers.

How do you get the customers you want, and deserve?  Are you randomly stabbing at the marketplace or do you have a method and a plan for getting the type of customer you want to work with?  If you want to attract the ideal client you need to develop a specific plan to achieve that.

Here are some tips for attracting the ideal client:

  • First, decide who your ideal client is and write it down.  What sizes are they, where do they operate, what do they look like, etc?  Don’t be afraid to be too specific.  The more detailed you are, the easier it is to market to them.
  • Next, make sure everyone in your sphere of influence knows exactly who you are looking to meet.  The easiest way to do this is to tell them.  One way to find out if you have been specific enough is to ask your partners and alliances who they think a good client for you is.
  • Find out where you can interact with people who fit your description of the ideal client and attend those functions as well.  Determine what they read and listen to and find out how you can use that medium to market to them.
  • Finally, look at yourself and your business and make sure you present yourself and your business in a fashion that would attract those people.

Clarity is a key element in finding the clients you want.  Once you are clear on whom you are trying to meet, and your actions are in line with that, it’s easy to find the ideal customer.  Many business owners are hesitant to narrowly define their market for fear that they will miss potential clients.  Don’t let FEAR (False Expectations Appearing Real) get in the way.  The reality is that you will always attract some customers outside of your target.

Having unprofitable customers does not lead to a profitable business.  In 2007 Sprint dropped 1000 customers because it determined they were unable to meet their wireless needs.  They realized that these customers called frequently to complain and they were unable to satisfy them.  Rather than continue to expend time and resources to work with customers they could not satisfy, they chose to let them move on.  How many of your customers are actually profitable?

To attract profitable clients you must first understand who they are.  Look through your current database of clients and find the common denominator.  Use that to develop your customer profile and create marketing campaigns to attract those customers.


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Marketing, Profits, Sales, Systems

Is your business the only one of its kind?  Do you have no competition in the marketplace?  If so, good for you!  You must be a true innovator.  If not, you are like the rest of us.

Let’s face it; most people are selling a good product at a fair price.  Many times our competition is selling the same product we are selling at a price that is as good, if not better, than ours.  Why should clients buy from you and not Joe down the street?  Very few of us can say we have no competition in our marketplace.  But that doesn’t mean we are not unique.

How can you define your uniqueness and become attractive to your potential customers.  You don’t really want to have to compete on price.  In that arena, the price will eventually become low enough to put you out of business.

I give great service isn’t that answer either.  Trust me, everyone says that. When the last time someone told you their service is was not so good?

But every business has something that is their own.  Or something no one else has claimed as their own yet.  FedEx wasn’t the first company to deliver packages overnight, but they were the first to guarantee it.  The FedEx USP that put them on the map was “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” and it made them millions of dollars.

What is your Unique Selling Proposition? What can you promise to the marketplace that will make you stand out from the competition?

Here are some tips to a strong USP:

  • It should be truly unique
  • It is exciting to your target market
  • It will get people talking
  • It can’t be easily copied, or people will recognize that is has been copied.

Look at your business from the outside and ask yourself what makes you stand out from the competition.  Ask your best customers why they choose to do business with you.  Ask your employees what makes them proud to work for your company.  Then, turn that into a great marketing tool that entice clients to start knocking on your door.

Once you have determined your USP, use it to create a strong guarantee.  People like to know what they can expect and a guarantee is a great way to entice people to buy.  It is very important when creating your guarantee that you do so on something you know can deliver the majority of the time.  When FedEx guaranteed overnight delivery, they knew they were already delivering over 95% of their packages on time.  Make sure it is something the customer cares about.  Guaranteeing and immediate invoice might not be the best idea.  Don’t forget to include a remedy if the guarantee is not met.  Who can forget Domino Pizza’s “30 minutes or less or it’s free”?

If you can’t come up with a guarantee, I strongly suggest you look at your business model for improvement because something is not right.


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Leadership, Personal Growth

The choice is yours in life and in business whether to be a victim or a victor.  Too many people choose to be a victim and then wonder why they are not successful.  Victors make things happen.  Victims let things happen to them.  Which do you want to be?

To become a victor the first thing you have to do is stop the moaning and complaining about how tough business is and all the factors that are preventing you from being a success and try to embrace the concept of playing above the line and controlling your own destiny.  Believe it or not, there are many people who seem to succeed in every climate many a company that has not only survived, but actually thrived during difficult economic times.

What is the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t?

The victors (those who succeed) stay above the line and do what it takes to succeed.

Here is the concept:

Behaving and thinking above the line takes:




Which bring you results and make you a victor

Behaving and thinking below the line Uses:




Which are really just reasons for failure and make you a victim

Reasons are just a fancy word for excuses.  Where do you want to be?  You can blame others, blame the economy, and look for reasons not to succeed or you can take ownership of your decisions and actions and do the things necessary to become a success.

Do you want to stay in BED or take the OAR and steer your own ship?  The choice is yours.

The thought process of a victor is different from that of a victim.  They don’t look to others for blame and they react accordingly when the environment changes.  They don’t sit in their empty store wondering why no customers show up.  They look at their assortment and determine what they need to change to make it more appealing to their potential customers.  They embrace the concepts of ownership, accountability and responsibility.

Ownership says the results you achieve are a result of your own thinking, planning and actions.  They are not affected by events out of your control.  When forces seem to conspire against you, you take control of the situation and react accordingly.

Accountability is the act of creating a plan for yourself and your actions and then getting those things done, no matter what.  You wouldn’t give excuses to your boss about why you didn’t get the work done (I hope) so don’t allow yourself to not do those things you need to do to succeed.

Responsibility is about fully understanding that you and you alone control what happens to you.   Yes, things can go wrong that you can’t control accidents happen every day.   But how you react when things happen is all about taking responsibility.  When you fall down, do you just sit there and wait for someone to help you or do you get up, brush yourself off and continue on?  My son one time fell and injured himself while no one was home.  He lay in driveway for a few minutes and then realized no one was going to miraculously show up and treat him, so he got up and called me to ask how to treat his scraped knee.  That is taking responsibility.

Hopefully, you will choose to say above the line and become a victor.  I look forward to your success.

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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth

We see plenty of books, talks, articles, symposiums and interviews about the importance of great leadership.  What does it take to be a great leader?  We all need to be leaders in our businesses in order to be successful.  Whether we have employees or not, it is essential to develop the qualities of a leader in ourselves in order to build a successful business.  Leadership is much more than how you manage your employees.  It goes to the heart of your company.  Great company leaders inspire their teams, improve the communities in which they operate, and often create lasting change in the world around them.  Are you working to become the best leader you can?

What are the qualities of a great leader?

  • Humility – You don’t need to tell everyone how great you are.  They will see you and your team for themselves
  • Passion – Believe in and enjoy what you are doing and it will shine through to others.
  • Integrity – Deal honestly with yourself and with those around you.
  • Responsibility – This includes taking responsibility for your failures as well as your successes.
  • Vision – If you know where you are going, others will follow.

These are just a few of the qualities of a great leader.  What can you do to develop them within yourself?

Humility can be developed simply by taking the time to recognize the contributions of others all around you.  Pay attention to the accomplishments of others.  Passion requires that you find the business that fuels your dreams.  Hopefully, you have found that business, but if not you need to keep searching.  Passion can’t be faked.  Integrity means being honest.  A great exercise for this is to spend a week being 100% honest all the time.  This means no blaming it on traffic when you were just running late.  It does not mean hurting people by becoming compelled to point out all their flaws.  You should, however, be honest with your opinions, when asked, in a tactful manner.  Responsibility means accepting both your successes and your failures.  You must look within and control your circumstances before they control you.  Vision is a wonderful thing.  To develop a strong vision, you need to look into the future and define what it is that you are trying to accomplish.

When you spend the time to actively work on developing these traits you are working to become a better leader.  The ability to lead and inspire will take you and your business to new heights and put you in the company of some of the greatest people to have ever lived.



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Goals, Leadership, Marketing, Personal Growth, Sales

Who amongst us considers themselves to be a salesperson?   If you answered, not me, I’ve got news for you.  Whether we like it or not, we are all salespeople.  The word “salesperson” developed a negative connotation some time ago, but it shouldn’t be that way.  The majority of salespeople are kind, people oriented, and focused on the solving the problems of prospective clients.  They are professional, knowledgeable and fountains of useful advice.  Where would the world be today if there were no salespeople?  Sales are all about matching solutions to situations to create a positive experience for all parties involved.  You are a salesperson whether you realized it or not.  If you’ve ever had a date, gotten married or made a new friend you can say you are a successful salesperson at that!

Business people must be salespeople in order to grow their businesses.  It is a necessary skill when it comes to attracting new customers; creating partnerships with others, finding talented people and convincing them work for you, and meeting new people.  You must work to hone your sales skills to their sharpest to be a successful business person.  I have consistently observed that the most successful small businesses have a great salesperson at the helm.  They are able to lead a team of others and inspire them to become great salespeople as well.  They understand the needs of the market and are able to position their company to fulfill those needs.

What does it take to be a great salesperson?  It takes integrity, a charming personality, the ability to understand the needs of others, and passion.  This week’s tip is about the kind of person you need to become to be a great salesperson.  We can all become that person; some of us just have to work harder at it than others.

One of my favorite ways to work on these skills is by asking myself some questions.  They are very effective if you ask them right before a sales call.

Ask yourself – Do I possess these attributes?

  • Do I have a contagious, positive attitude?
  • Am I self-assured, but not arrogant?
  • Do I genuinely like people and do they like me?
  • Am I having fun?  If not, why am I doing it?
  • Am I visibly honest and operating with unspoken integrity?
  • Do I get excited about the prospect of helping others?

Another key question is – Do I believe in what I sell and do I enjoy what I’m doing?  If not, it is almost impossible to be successful.  Sales are about honesty and you won’t get far selling a product or service that you do not genuinely believe in.

Review these questions when you about to go on a sales call.  Think about what you can do to be the best salesperson you can.  It is a valuable tool that I use to put myself in the right frame of mind.  Hope they work for you as well.


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Leadership, Marketing, Personal Growth, Sales

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”  – Aesop


What do you do in your business to not just keep customers coming back, but also turn them into raving fans?  When you think back on companies you love doing business with, and rave about to others, is it a big thing they did or small, unexpected acts of kindness that made the difference?

We have a concept at ActionCOACH called Critical Non Essentials – CNE’s.  The idea being that it is the small, unexpected things you do to show your customers that they are important to you that make all the difference.  The key to a powerful CNE is not how much time, money or effort you spent, but how closely did you listen to your customer.

Some examples of CNE’s are:

  • Birthday cards – Are you keeping track of important details about your clients?
  • Tickets to events – Do you know what your clients’ interests are?
  • Gift Certificate for lunch at their favorite restaurant – Do you know what restaurant that is?
  • Unusual holiday recognition – have you gotten any April fool’s Day cards?  Would you remember someone who sent you one?
  • Anniversary cards to celebrate the anniversary of doing business with you – I received a happy birthday card to my car recently from the dealership!
  • Actions work too – walk someone to their car holding an umbrella on a rainy day, host a small reception at your business just because, etc.
  • The list is endless.

If you have a retail location, what types of CNE’s do you provide to show your customers their comfort matters?  Do you have comfortable seating?  Do you offer them a cup of tea, a glass of water, or a little champagne while they wait?  Is your store clean, attractive and welcoming?  The customer may not always consciously notice when the environment is welcoming and comfortable, but they sure notice when it’s not.  What kind of impression are you creating?

The simplest of all CNE’s is your own attitude.  You must act as if your customers are the most important thing.  They are, right?  You need to be friendly, attractive and pleasant.  Learn to be polite and listen when they talk.  Show them that you really care.  You also need to present yourself in a professional and appropriate manner.  Dress appropriately for your business.  Be sure you clothes are clean and neat.  Be sure your hands are clean, your hair is brushed and you’re your teeth are clean and bright.  All these little things do matter and it may be the difference between you and your competition.

Now, more than ever these small acts of kindness can really make you stand out from the competition.  Keeping your name and a (positive) image of your company in front of the customer goes a long way.  It goes even further when so few people are doing it.

This week why don’t you challenge yourself to choose a couple of your best clients/customers and do some small act of kindness for them?


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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth, Sales

This week’s Tip of the Week is about building a strong reputation for yourself and your business.  Your reputation is vitally important to the growth of your business.  Do you do business with people whose reputation you don’t trust?  How much of your business have you given to others based on their reputation?

I am paraphrasing an excerpt from One Phone Call Away: Secrets of a Master Networker by Jeffrey W. Meshel and Douglas Garr. (Garr, 2005)

The one thing you go to your grave with is your reputation. Guard it as you would guard anything you love dearly.  Wake up! Be aware of what you do or don’t do and how those affected will react.  Leo Durocher, the legendary baseball manager, once said, “Nice guys finish last.” He had it wrong: Nice guys finish first.  Now ask yourself these questions:

  • How do people you know perceive you?
  • How do new introductions react to you?
  • Are you viewed as smart and sharp at what you do?
  • Are you viewed as a giver or a taker?
  • Do others think you are connected?
  • Are you well liked by your peers; are you viewed as a good person?
  • Do people respect your opinion?
  • Are you honest and sincere?
  • Do you follow through with what you say you are going to do?
  • Do you take the lead in conversations?
  • Are you ever overbearing or overanxious when making a point?

The perception may be wrong, but it doesn’t matter. Perception is reality. Drive yourself to be better – every day.  Don’t change who you are, change the way you think.  Follow up – and continue to follow up – after the event.  Think big!!  Get out more often. The view of the world from your desk is a narrow one.   Stay balanced – contentment is success.

If you aren’t happy with your current reputation, work to make a change.  First, you must be open and honest with yourself.  Next, you need to allow others to speak with you frankly and allow them to tell you where you are falling short.  Finally, you need to take action to make the change.  Work to correct the things you must work on internally and work to correct the misperceptions that may exist around you.  At the end of the day, your reputation is gold, so treasure it as such.


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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth

Most business owners, executives and sales professionals will tell you that they are committed to growing their sales, companies, teams, etc.  But the real secret to achieving growth in business is to commit to personal growth.  It has been said that if you are not growing you are dying.  That is true for both businesses and individuals.  What was the last book you read, class you took, seminar you attended or webinar you viewed?

I have heard it said by many people that where you will be in the future depends upon the books you read, the people you associate with, and the actions you take.  This week’s tip is about committing to a program of lifetime learning and then implementing it.

You are either growing or dying, so what are you doing to grow?  Can you commit to one or more of the following?

  • Read a book about business, sales, leadership or motivation next month
  • Attend a seminar or workshop – this can be free or paid as long as there is value
  • Buy or download CD’s, DVD’s, or MP3’s and then watch, listen and learn
  • Subscribe to a trade or business magazine and then read it when it comes
  • Look up local classes in your area and sign up to learn something new

As a coach, it is very important for me to always be adding to my knowledge base.  I personally am committed to reading a business or motivational book each week, spending 2 hours or more listening to CD’s (great use of time in the car) and attending at least one seminar or workshop every quarter.  What level of commitment do you have to your own growth and development?

You have to learn more to earn more so what are you learning?  Congratulations, you have already taken the first steps by picking up this book and reading this far.  Now, continue the trend by making the commitment.

If you feel you don’t have the time to be reading, listening, watching and attending to add to your personal growth, take a look at how you are spending your time now.  Do you watch mindless television, read trashy novels, and skim through gossip magazines?  Surely you can trade some of the time you spend doing those activities to work on improving yourself.  A lifetime of learning will provide you with a lifetime of value.


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