Sunday, January 11, 2015

8 Ways You Can Create More Time In 2015

I get a little crazy when I hear people tell me they don’t have time to do something. That something might be starting a blog, taking a yoga class, starting a second business part-time or cleaning up their digital profile so they can look for a new job and leave the one they have been complaining about for years. 

What I really hear - every time -  is an excuse. 

It’s a good excuse. At least they think so.  Digital, which was supposed to make our lives so much easier has ironically served to make us more time challenged than ever before. Instead of simplifying, new technology distracts, thus compounding this feeling of time deprivation, leaving us wasting even more of this precious commodity by wallowing in frustration over all that time we don’t have.

It’s a vicious cycle. But it can be stopped. The first thing to do is accept the fact that time is not something  you “find.” This is not a search and rescue mission. The time is there and in equal proportion for all of us. It’s what we choose to do with our allotments.  

Since we are still at the beginning of a new year and everyone is fresh with ideas as to what they want to do differently, I thought it would be timely to offer some suggestions to create the time for those ideas to manifest.

Here’s a list of what has worked for me. Take note that none involve downloading yet one more App.

#1Put Down That Smart Phone
I realize this is a radical idea in a world where most of us panic more if we misplace our phones than our wallets or our children. But perhaps I can sway you by this statistic - the average person checks their phone 221 times a day

Trust me when I say that I love that when I went to the wrong restaurant to meet a friend the week before Christmas I could take out my iPhone and in a flash get directions from where I was to the restaurant I was supposed to be at and only be ten minutes late. But I don’t love when I catch myself mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook App or checking my email every five minutes, just because I can. That’s perfectly good time I could use elsewhere that I have let slip into oblivion. 

#2 Get Up A Half Hour Earlier Every Day.
This might be too much for you and it’s definitely not easy, especially in the dead of January when it is dark and cold outside, but it’s available to you if you want. The thing I have found, especially when I am working on a project that I am passionate about, is that once you get into the habit, it becomes really easy to do.  The bonus for me is that it miraculously opens up a lot more time for those other things I “just didn’t have time for” before.

#3 Unsubscribe. 
Email continues to be  one of the most effective methods of  marketing. If you are like me, you wind up with a lot flowing into your inbox each day.  Unsubscribe to the ones that are time wasters for you. My rule of thumb is if they are not useful, relevant, inspiring or something I can learn from I don’t want the clutter. I realize this suggestion might get me some unsubscribers - but if that will give you one less excuse why you don’t have enough time for all those things you really want to do - unsubscribe away.

#4 Use A Timer. 
If you are a regular reader you know I am partial to using a  good old-fashioned analog egg timer to parcel out my time. In fact I am using one right now as I type. I find it an indispensable tool for time creation. 

Let’s say the most extra time you can come up with right now to start that new business while working your day job is a half hour a day. Setting the timer for thirty minutes and not doing anything but working on the idea during that slot will get you a lot closer towards taking that to fruition. It takes discipline - but it works!

#5 Turn Off The Alerts!
You really don’t need to get an alert every time Aunt Agatha likes a photo on Facebook. You don’t need your email to be flying across the screen while you are trying to finish up that big presentation. And you really don’t need to be on alert when Macy’s takes another 20% off those shoes you’ve been eyeing since November when you could be writing a chapter in that novel you keep saying you are going to write.

Turn them off - as in close out of the program! These are all distractions that take you off task and instead of creating time, contribute to wasting it. 

#6 Use Your DVR.
I am not going to suggest getting rid of your television. Personally, I like my shows and as a writer, I can justify it as story line research. But even if you can’t and it is just your guilty pleasure, there is no need to watch anything live anymore save for the news, sports events or awards shows. 

My friends who still sell television advertising will hate me for this, but use your DVR. Watch when you want and commercial free. Each half hour of television includes approximately ten minutes of commercials. Two hours commercial free and you have just created forty minutes of time to do one of those things you say you have no time for. 

#7 Be Bold And Try A Digital Detox
This was the subject of a HuffPost Live segment I was a part of last week. The first time I went on a digital detox was in 2010. I blogged about it here and a summary appeared in Forbes.  It’s not for the faint of heart but it will prove to you - if nothing else that you have a lot more time than you thought. 

#8 Think Outside The Box
You're going to get overwhelmed. We all do. But rather than letting it get the best of you, throwing your hands up in the air, and deciding you were right all along and I was wrong -  you just don’t have the time for whatever it is you are putting off - ask yourself this question. How can I create more of it in 2015? 

Keep me posted on what happens!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why Desires Are Better Than Resolutions And Goals

I gave up writing resolutions years ago. Apparently I am not alone. Less than half of us make them - just 45% - and of those who do less than 8% achieve them. It seems the odds are that you are doomed before you start.

Goal setting is another thing I am not a proponent of. From where I sit, goals are a masculine term better suited for the football field, the boardroom or the budget review. It implies a win or lose proposition and ignores progress. Maybe my distaste for the word is a hangover from my corporate days when I witnessed teams chastised when they did not make budget, even though they were growing in double digit percentage points from one year to the next. Whatever the reason, I think it’s a term that lacks juice and seeks to motivate from fear.

That’s why when I am starting a new project - or in this case a new year - my list of what I want to create, achieve, and/or do differently is a list of desires.

Yes, desires. 

A distinctively feminine word that is guaranteed to make one smile. Which from where I sit, is a much better way to start creating change than a list of resolutions you made up in your head because you or someone else you know thinks these are things you should be doing.

We don’t hear much about desire lists in mixed company, because our culture equates desire most readily with sex as opposed to creating change in our lives. But if you look at the definition of desire - “a strong feeling of wanting” - it seems to me that is the place to start from if you are really serious about making something happen - professionally or personally.

  • Desires are something you can feel in every cell of your body -  not just a lofty goal that you might or might not really believe possible.
  • Desires get to the truth of what you want to achieve. If you pay attention your body will let you know if you are on to something  or not.
  • Desires imply that you can have fun along the way, a novel concept for task masters, but one that still will lead you to your - here comes that word again - desired outcome.
  • Desires invite the Universe to take a part in the co-creation of whatever it is you want to do.
  • Desires can still make you feel uneasy and at times a bit uncomfortable - but more likely not out of fear that you will fail, rather that you might succeed.
  • Desires force you to believe that what you want is indeed possible. 

This is not to say that I think creating change is as simple as writing a desire on a piece of paper and - poof - just like that it will magically appear.  

Desire requires discipline. In order for a desire to manifest, you still need a strategy and a game plan of specific steps to take towards that desire. Writing those steps down establishes true intention. Action is key. 

For example, if one of my desires is to write and publish two more books this year, that has no chance of happening if I don’t set aside time on my calendar each and every day to write. 

If I desire to be published in The New York Times, I will need to submit articles.
If I desire to make YOUR DIGITAL YOU available as an online course by March 1, I must start by upgrading my website to accommodate that.
If I desire to grow my ONE-on-ONE Consulting, I need more outreach and to make it easier for people to sign up.

See how that works?

Whether it is resolutions, goals or my preferred method of writing desires, if they are not front and center each day, we forget about them. They get lost and we become part of the 92% who never see what they want come true.

So this year I am trying something a little different. I wrote all of my 2015 Desires on scraps of paper. I read each one out loud and allowed myself the luxury of feeling that desire with my whole body before I folded it up and placed it inside of a mason jar that now sits on my desk and will every day this year.  

I might add a few new ones along the way. I will most certainly open that jar from time to time to see how I am doing.  But I will not lose sight of them. 

Special note: I have already taken a step towards one of my desires. It is now easier (and more affordable than ever) to sign up for a ONE-ON-ONE Consultation with me. Details here!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

9 Discoveries I Made In 2014 That Make Me Want To Dance

I've learned, that while not discounting those big AHA life altering moments, it is in often in those smaller discoveries that I find my world enhanced. When I uncover that new tool, idea, product or person that has me smiling because of the impact they have succeeded in making on my life. 

While I am often resistant at first - if not downright New York skeptical, I am always on the lookout for what is going to improve how I live, love and work. That has  held true in 2014. 

What follows is a list - in no particular order - of what has made it to the top of my list of best - and for me - life altering discoveries I made this year that make me want to do a happy dance.

Evernote - I didn’t get Evernote the first time I tried it. I had heard all the raves about how indispensable a tool it was, but from where I sat, it looked like more trouble than it was worth.  

So I gave up. 

Time passed and within the the space of two days this past June, three different people whose opinion I held great regard for tweeted about how they had given it a second chance and were now converts. That dovetailed with one of those moments when I was desperate to organize the multitude of information coming my way each day from all the different areas of my life. So I gave it another try. And guess what? I’m in love.  

I also really like the fact that while Evernote is set up to link on all your devices, it has not lost sight of good old-fashioned paper and pen and also offers a Moleskin calendar that can sync with the application

Scrivener - This is one of those programs that I bought a couple of years ago because I heard it was the best way to organize for writers. I used it. But never religiously. I knew it had more power than I was accessing, but quite frankly I found it too time consuming to try to figure out. 

Then I heard about Scrivener Coach’s Learn Scrivener Fast and decided to make the investment. It changed how I viewed Scrivener and consequently changed how I write. It also just so happens to be where I am writing the draft of this blog. 

CanvaCanva is and I quote “ amazingly simple graphic design.”  I wasn’t resistant to Canva.  I know the power of using visual in online content creation but I seemed to be doing just fine between the pictures I snap myself and those I could get from iStock photo. That was until iStock got too expensive - which is when Canva got my full attention. Once again - I am in love. Please note that the headline picture for this post was found and designed in Canva.

Arbonne - A dear friend had been after me for years to get involved with Arbonne. I wanted no parts of it.  Until one day last May when I was given a sample of their RE9 Anti-Aging line and I promised to give it a try, convinced it wouldn’t make a difference in my skin and I would now have the proof that would get them to leave me alone. Much to my surprise I was given no such proof.

In less than three days, I really did notice a difference in my skin and was subsequently desperate to order up a batch. What ensued was a decision not just to become a customer, but to build an Arbonne business alongside my other businesses - which again - makes me want to do that happy dance. (If you are interested in hearing more about the entire health and wellness line and/or the business model, email me privately and we’ll tawk.)

Podcasts - I’ve been enamored with podcasts and frequently threaten to start one of my own. To date the only thing that has come close are a few isolated tracks on Soundcloud. That said, I love listening to them and this year am listening more than ever. I always learn cool new stuff, am inspired and often find them as an incubator for my creativity. My latest favorites include:  The James Altucher Show, Rainmaker.FM and On Being.

Audible  - No doubt my former love of radio has something to do with why I have been enamored with sound and thus my affection for the aforementioned Podcasts. But listening to a book is not something I ever liked or wanted to do - until this year. 

I heard that Billy Crystal’s book, Still Fooling’ ‘Em was narrated by none other than Billy Crystal himself. I thought that might be fun.  So I downloaded a copy and had another life-changing moment. I discovered it was as though I was listening to Billy doing stand-up.  So I now have a new rule. If the book is a memoir and the memoir is narrated by the author, I will opt for the audio version.

The Do Not Disturb Button On My iPhone - This may have been there for a very long time. But you know how it goes with smartphones. They are loaded with all sorts of tricks that you just aren’t aware of - until something happens. 

In my case, I accidentally turned it on.

It was in the process of trying to figure out why my phone had stopped ringing when people called that I discovered it existed. Now I am in love. It’s much more useful than just turning off the sound in that with Do Not Disturb you don’t get the text messages popping through or see the calls falling into voicemail. It creates this quiet when working or in the company of another living, breathing human that allows me to put more attention on what I am doing and who I am with.

Alice Hair  - You may have caught my blog this past summer on The Huffington Post - What I Learned When I Broke Up With My Hairdresser. The details of how I came to discover Alice McCarney and her magical ways with a scissors and color can be found there. Suffice it to say, she has changed my life and reminded me there is great power when one is in the presence of a business owner who truly loves what they do and cares about their customers.

Greek words on Instagram - I have always regretted not learning to speak Greek as a kid, when it would have been easier to take on and there were still plenty of people around me who spoke the language. But with the exception of the Lord’s Prayer and Happy Easter, my Greek is pretty limited. But there is hope now that I have discovered Greek Words on Instagram. Each day there is a new word in Greek and in English and an audio to hear the pronunciation. Here is a recent favorite courtesy of Socrates. 

That said, what new tools, ideas, products or people have brightened your world enough this year to make you want to do a happy dance? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Six Digital Marketing Lessons I Learned Selling Country Music Radio

I had only been in the radio business six months when the new owners of WXTU decided to flip the format to country music. The first song they played was Waylon Jennings, “Are You Ready For The Country.”

I don’t remember much else about that day, except I knew I wasn't ready. I wanted to run out of that station on City Line Avenue in Bala Cynwyd and go hide. I couldn’t  imagine that anyone was going to listen to country music in a market like Philadelphia. The station, as far as I could see, was doomed and my new career with it. It was unfathomable to me that I would be able to sell enough commercial time to cover my minuscule weekly draw, much less pay my rent. It all looked very bleak.

I wasn’t the only person who questioned this move. The trades were full of skeptics. There was nothing cool about country music if you lived in the Northeast in 1984. That was music people listened to who drove pick up trucks and who didn’t live in big cities. 

The only person who truly believed it would be a success was the man who made the decision, the owner of the station, George Beasley.

As it turned out, George was right and everyone else was wrong. It also turned out to be one of the best things that could happen for my career. 

I got to learn more in the five years I spent there than I ever would have selling a format that was more stable and mainstream. I learned  - about radio, about advertising, about selling, about growing a business from the ground up - enough to fill a book. And here’s the real bonus that I have only understood in hindsight. I was also learning valuable lessons in digital marketing.

Yes - you read that right. There was no privatized Internet in the eighties. We were still living in an analog world complete with pay phones and assistants who took handwritten messages on paper that read “While You Were Out.” 

Yet I was learning the basic tenets of digital marketing. 

I just didn’t know it yet.  

Let me explain.

1- The Importance of a Tribe.  We didn’t call them tribes in 1984. We called them listeners. If our listeners liked what we served we had a product. And if they were passionate about that product we had a following that would translate into ratings which meant advertising dollars which resulted in a business.  

My skeptical self learned within a few months that country music radio fans are no ordinary fans. They are fiercely loyal and passionate about the music and the artists. They supported our advertisers because the advertisers supported their music. They validated our product. Which brings me to the second lesson I learned. 

2- Niche markets can create successful and viable businesses. WXTU lived on the tail of what Chris Anderson would later coin long tail marketing. Most broadcasters at that time were looking to deliver a format that appealed to the masses, one that would land them as a Top 5 station simply because very few radio media buys ever included more than five stations on it. Being at the top of the list – or the head of the tail - was the fastest way to make the most money.  What I learned from WXTU was that a strong, niche product with a loyal tribe might not make the most money - but it was clearly a viable business - especially when that tribe was engaged.

3- The Importance of an Engaged Customer. There are many in the radio business today who tout terrestrial radio as being the original “social media.” There is validity to that statement. The best on-air radio personalities have always enrolled listeners in personal conversations and promoted engagement in station contests and events. Before the Internet, the telephone and write-ins enabled that interaction.

Country music fans have always been more engaged than the average radio listener. They spent more time with the station. This was not just music they liked to listen to - this was a radio station they loved feeling connected to. 

That kind of engaged tribe is what every digital marketer seeks today.  

4- Data is nothing without the context of story.  Radio stations have always lived and died by data in the form of  ratings (in 1984 it was Arbitron - today that is owned by Nielsen Audio). Ratings are evidence of listenership and how you get to price your commercials. 

Even though WXTU presented a viable, niche format, its reach was not enough to be a top five contender - which meant ratings taken at face value would never get us on an agency buy.

So we learned to look for the story within the data – which in this case was that our listeners stayed with us for longer periods of time and thus were more actively engaged. That active engagement meant they were more likely to be listening when a commercial did air. In other words they were not tuning out - a challenge that is compounded in today’s digital environment with its deluge of choices. 

5- Be Agile. Radio stations are essentially selling air. Which means there is no shelf life for your product. If that morning drive spot is not sold today, you can’t add it on tomorrow and sell it then. So you learn to move fast and be agile. If something in the news happened that warranted a change in the playlist - just like that - within minutes - the music could change. If  someone wanted to get a commercial on that afternoon we could make it happen. Agility wasn’t an option when you’re selling a station that is not a “must” buy, it’s just a way of being.

The ability to be agile, to be able to move quickly at the same time we are thinking things through is necessary in the world of real-time marketing. I’m fortunate to have learned that long before it became trendy. 

6- Dare to be Different. The tendency of most business is to chase the trends. To look for where you can make the most money in the shortest amount of time and to choose the safest route to make that happen. George Beasley thought otherwise. He saw a hole in the market, believed he could make it work, and followed his instincts - despite the naysayers. He wasn’t afraid to fail. And as it turns out he didn’t. The station, while recently traded to CBS, is still alive and kicking in 2014

I learned a lot selling country music radio in the eighties  – and for the record I learned to like country music!