Tuesday, August 28, 2012

9 Basic Rules For A Tech DeTox

Two years ago I embarked on my first technology detox. I was rather ambitious. I decided seven days would be the minimum amount of time necessary to effectively cleanse my system of the poisons of  24/7 technology overload. It was an eye-opening and admittedly  difficult adventure that was chronicled  on this blog as well as on ForbesWoman.  

I learned a lot, about myself and the world we now live in. For example:
  • Technology addiction is widespread and if not kept under control can be hazardous to your psyche and productivity.
  • We are lured in with incessant media sound bites encouraging us to feed our habit. We fear if we are not keeping up with whatever else is going on at this very moment we are going to miss out. Lose. Something. But the fact is we don’t. At least nothing of great consequence.
  • I had much more time in my life than I was owning up to. I was just misusing it.
  • This would not be the last time I would need to take a break and detox. Like too much of the wrong food, periodically we need to stop, avoid the demons and cleanse ourselves of the impurities clogging up our system, until we can feel the essence of who we are again.
  • Seven days is rather stringent.  Three can do the trick and give you a good reboot of  clarity as to what is really important.

I've noticed the last week or so, that it's time again. But like all diets, I've been saying I'll start tomorrow for a lot of yesterdays. But this time I really mean it! And since I'm writing this blog, now I can't back out. Besides what better way to gain some clarity and focus on creation instead of consumption right before the Fall starts, than to shut it all off?

So how will I do this? By following what I consider the 9 Basic Rules for a Tech DeTox.

  1. NO social media. No reading of and/or engaging in. That includes but is not limited to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ or Instagram.
  2. Limit reading your email to 3x a day for no more than twenty minutes at a time. Use an egg timer. My suggestion is to check in the morning, before lunch and at the end of the business day. Note: you need to close down the program for this to work. Otherwise those intrusive reminders, all those bells, whistles and alerts will lure you in.
  3. No meals with or in front of technological devices including but not limited to  smartphones, iPads, desktops, or television.
  4. Experiment with only getting news from a printed newspaper. This may be a stretch for many, but reading the on-line editions is a temptation to wander about in cyberspace.
  5. Limit your television time to destination entertainment viewing only. No aimless meandering with a remote in hand in search of a rerun of Sex andThe City.
  6. Focus on creating, not consuming. (For me, this will mean ALOT of writing and planning)
  7. Experiment with using a pen and paper to take notes, or anything in that vein that will keep you from touching anything electronic.
  8. DO NOT multi-task.  For example, no walking and talking on the phone.
  9. Alert all those of real importance in your life what you are up to so they don't wonder why you have not commented on their newest FB picture or take it personally you did not answer their last email in thirty seconds. If they want you they will find you. Trust me.

Tech Dieter's Note: You may find yourself cheat, nibbling away on your favorite social media network like it was a warm chocolate chip cookie you just could not resist. It happens. I confess I have been guilty of just such indulgence when I am in the midst of a tech detox. My advice? Enjoy the moment, own up to the fact you fell off the wagon, and get back on. 

I'll be detoxing until next Wednesday. If there is something really critical you need to find me about, like you are finally ready to sign up for some serious coaching, just shoot me an email. I'll be checking 3x a day!  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How I Learned to Love Something I Never Thought I Would

I was a monogamous kind of girl in a committed relationship. For what seemed to be forever. I did not stray. Until I was forced to. Until I was given no other choice. Until I felt I had been abandoned. My needs no longer met.
At first I thought it was a rumor. Some little piece of gossip that had been created to sell a newspaper or make a good lead for a story. But then one day...........

YES..to find out what this is all about you'll have to click on over to The Huffington Post!! It's where the full article is.

( do feel free to comment, Tweet or share the link on Facebook!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Five Reasons Not To Multi-Task

Somewhere along the line multi-tasking became a badge of honor. This concept of doing more than one thing at a time and then bragging about it as though it was an Olympic sport and you were training for a gold medal might at face value seem smart.  Logically it appears that doing several things simultaneously instead of just one must be more efficient and ultimately save time.

But it doesn’t.

To do things right one needs to focus. To pay attention. To check one's work. To give full concentration to the situation at hand.

Of course in today's world, not enough of us are concerned with doing anything right. Some of us aren't even sure what "right" looks like.  Our obsessions lie in the doing itself. As much and as quickly as possible so we have time left over. To brag about how great we are that we can talk on the phone and type an email while running three miles on the treadmill at the gym, all without breaking an ankle.

I blame technology. It was supposed to simplify our lives, but so far it seems to have only complicated things. It has left us with no choice but to multi-task our way through these growing co-dependent relationships. Who cares if we are rude, look like a fool or put ourselves and others in danger in the process?

Well, I do. 

Which is why I offer this list of reasons why you should think twice the next time you choose to multi-task.

1. It can be physically dangerous. We all know the dangers of driving while texting, but no one seems to take notice that it is equally dangerous to text  or email or chat on the phone while walking. It’s easy to spot in Manhattan.  People walk across the street with no heed to the bus that is about to hit them. They are too busy multi-tasking with their Smartphones in hand. Sometimes they pull someone else into the danger zone.

The other day I watched a father pushing his child in the stroller across the busy intersection that is Lincoln Center, his eyes fixated on his thumbs and his phone, not his child. I guess he thought he was saving time by multi-tasking, but I’m not sure risking a trip to the ER is a true time saver.

2. It can make you look like a fool. We’ve all done this one. We are busy at our desks, multi-tasking away, trying to read and answer emails while having a phone conversation. And just like that we hit send and that email goes to the wrong person.  It might be a benign mistake that gives someone a chuckle or you might inadvertently copy the entire company on a private email that admitted you were cheating on your boyfriend, as was depicted brilliantly in a recent episode of The Newsroom.  

If you do something with half an eye on it, your work reflects it. Sometimes that means shoddy quality and sometimes, in the words of Ricky Ricardo, you got some “splaining to do” to get yourself out of a mess you created.

3. Multi-tasking in the presence of another sends the message that you’re just not that important.
An employee is sitting across from her boss for her semi-annual review while he multi-tasks, checking his email every time she asks a clarifying question. Not only is he wasting her time while she is forced to sit there, waiting for his focus to get back on their meeting, his unspoken message is clear. She’s not important enough to the company to get his undivided attention for twenty minutes.

Outside of the office an attractive couple sits at a beautiful outside cafe on a warm summer evening, holding hands across the table. Their eyes are intent, not on each other but on multi-tasking, their free thumbs busy texting away on their Smartphone to someone, somewhere, who doesn't get to hold their hand.

Not giving another person, in work or play, your undivided attention is a statement of their importance in your business and your life. It does not help to build relationships.

4. It’s rude. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have had to listen to the sordid details of other people’s private conversations on a cross-town bus, or had to wait to get a container of yogurt because a mother had cornered off the dairy case with her child in one of those oversized strollers, her cell phone pressed to her ear, engaged in a conversation I really didn’t need to know about, while oblivious to the line of people she was creating behind her. And don’t get me started on the dog lovers and those retractable leashes that never seem to retract. They on one side of the sidewalk, on the phone making a date, their dog on the other, both blind to that the fact this is a public walkway and that leash that has been stretched to knee length is blocking it. All multi-taskers. All, in my opinion, rude.

5. True genius requires focus and concentration. If you want to be successful, to do something important in this life and build good relationships, you have to give it your time and your undivided attention. Even for just a portion of your day.  

Multi-tasking is not a badge of honor, nor is it a time saver. In fact it’s can be the fastest route to inferior work and relationships.  Unless of course, you're in the kitchen and trying to time the mashed potatoes to be done at the same time as the pork chops. In which case, multi-task away!

For more on the hazards of multi-tasking and ways to create more time for the stuff you really want to do, pick up your copy of It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time For Your Life today!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gaming The System

When I started selling many moons ago one of the first things I was taught was that the easiest way to build long term business was to establish good relationships. If a client thought they could trust me, not only would I get the first sale, but renewals in the future. Trust was not something bestowed, but something earned. Know my product. Know my competition. Say what I would do and do what I said I would. Over time that would work. I would make money. So would my client. All would be happy. Everybody would win.

This approach still works, but a lot of us think it takes too long and too many are concerned with only winning for themselves. So the search begins for ways to game the system.

People have tried to make a science out of SEO so their sites get more hits, but if their content is not good, those people will never come back, no matter how great the keywords that got them there. This past week eight badminton athletes were disqualified from the Olympics for being caught purposely losing matches in order to face easier opponents down the road. Jonah Lehr confessed he made up quotes for his Bob Dylan biography, no doubt in the hopes of garnering more attention and more sales. Now found out, he is forced to resign his job at The New Yorker and his publisher pulled his book from the retailers. And then of course there is the construction site outside my window. It is against NYC ordinance to be creating noise on a weekend without a special variance and only then after 10AM. That did not stop the workmen from hoisting cranes at 5AM this past Saturday. They don't care about the small fine they pay if caught. As long as they stay on schedule

All are trying to game the system.

There are times when gaming the system might feel like the only choice. Most of the time it's not. When you do opt in, you take the gamble that you might get caught. The odds are on the house that most will.

The illegal scene Saturday morning. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Art Of Networking: A Checklist

For some people the idea of going to a function to network makes them break out in a rash. They might even prefer a dentist drill to the idea. I'm not one of them. I think it's fun to go into a crowded room and see who new I might meet that might help me, or me them, not to mention the chance to reconnect with someone I haven't seen in a long time. I admit to once being rather fearful and yes, even a tad shy of such situations. I obviously outgrew that.  If I hadn't I doubt I would have achieved much success in my career.

I believe networking is not an option for professional success. In fact I think it might be more critical than ever. Not only does one need to hone the skills of in-person networking, today one needs to navigate it on-line as well.

But it is the in-person opportunities that I think the most fun and the most beneficial in the long run. As humans, people still want to be in the company of other humans. We network on-line in the hopes of an in-person meeting. My first year blogging I met Colette Martin on-line. We were both ex-corporate types on a reinvention path. We connected via our blogs. But it was when we met in-person our friendship was solidified.

This past weekend I attended the BlogHer12 Conference. BlogHer is the largest on-line community of women who blog.  There were reputed to be almost 5000 attendees, mostly women meandering the conference rooms at the New York Hilton. So I guess like me, given the chance to meet face to face, one takes it.

Even a seasoned networker, like myself plans for such events.

Here's the list I consulted ahead of time, what I call my networking checklist:
  1. Be prepared. Have business cards, lots of them ready and easily accessible. I like to slip mine behind my name tag so I don't need to fish around my purse too much. This year in addition to my business cards which I like to call my official coaching cards,  I also had postcards touting my books.
  2. Set your intentions in advance. Are there specific people you want to meet? Or is it more general in what you want for your business? Get clear on your intentions and write down the two or three most important ones. One of the things I always include is learning at least one new thing. This year it was the art of iPhonography.
  3. Know what you want to say. Some people call it the "elevator speech." I prefer the concept of "log line" which is the term screenwriters use to pitch their scripts to the studios. Whatever it is, you need to speak it clearly, concisely and with passion. In today's world you have less time then it takes me to get a regular coffee at Starbucks to get my attention. Plan for it.
  4. Be authentic. As soon as people hear the word "pitch" they think canned and too often speak it as though someone just hit the play button. You are one of the most important aspects of whatever you are presenting. Let you show through.
  5. Be bold. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself. Look for an entre. It could be as simple as a compliment on someone's shoes (if you really like them!) or as rehearsed as why you were seeking them out. One woman I met who has a really cool DIY website, made sure she was front and center to connect to Martha Stewart. Martha was on her intention list for the conference.
  6. Be confident. Own who you are and what you are up to. Don't be afraid to shake someone's hand or look them in the eye. Confidence attracts. 
  7. Dress to Impress. I dress mostly to impress myself. I know I will work a room better when I like the way I look because for me that instantly makes me feel better. Above all go for clean, pressed and well-fitting clothes that say you care enough to care about you.
  8. Use your intuition. As you get more seasoned at networking you will find you will be able to gravitate to exactly who you need to meet and they to you. The clearer you are on the intentions you set the easier it will be for you to "work the room." 
  9. Take Notes. Especially at a 2-day event like BlogHer. You will NEVER remember it all. I don't care how young your brain is!
  10. Follow-up. This is a picture of all I accumulated over the weekend. My follow-up includes the sorting of the piles. Who do I want to follow-up with on Twitter and/or LinkedIn? Who gets added to my mailing list? Who gets a direct email from me suggesting next steps? What am I going to do with twenty yards of yellow Duck tape and why did I think it important to take?

        Bonus Tip: It is most fun and productive to attend these events with someone like minded who knows your intentions as well as their own and keeps an eye out for something or someone you might miss. A special shout out to my friend and cohort, Nancy Moon of MoonPR! It would not have been the same without you!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Think Before You Speak or Tweet or FaceBook

Mom always told me to think before I speak. Especially when I was filled with emotion. She said that when I didn't, I had a tendency to utter words that had little daggers attached to them and were hurtful.  Once the words were out of my mouth I wouldn't be able to take them back. So I should choose carefully.

I didn't listen right away in that way daughters don't. But over time and experience I got what she meant and realized what good advice it was.

Most days, I press pause and take a few deep breaths before I open my mouth. Especially when I know it is going to be a difficult conversation. I have a chance to choose my words more appropriately as well as to assess the ears that they will fall on. The result is that whatever I have to say is better received. Even if its not liked.

Apparently not everyone was given this kind of good advice from their mother. Witness what people Tweet and Facebook, apparently without any thought as to how it will be received. As in the women who were tweeting that they thought the Aurora gunman was 'kinda cute.' Worse than trying to put words back in your mouth, whatever you put out there on line stays out there. Forever. Even if you are so smart as to delete it, someone, somewhere, took a screen shot and saved it. For eternity.

The personal implications go without saying. The professional could cost you your job and/or your customers.

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