Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Not Being On Time Says About You

I have a reputation for being on time. One I am proud of. In fact in the rare occurrences when I am not on time - people who know me tend to worry that something must be wrong. It's helped me to build business relationships and develop trust. But it stresses out some of my friends - especially the ones who are always running late. 

As it should.

There are a lot of people who think it doesn't matter. They have no problem keeping other people waiting. They think it does not mean anything to say they will meet you at 10AM and be a half hour late.

The fact is - not being on time says a lot about who you are - personally and professionally.

It says you are disorganized.
It says your life is in disarray and you don't have enough of a handle on it to keep your appointments.
It says you commit to things and don't follow through.

Most importantly - it says you don't value my time.

It says you don't think I'm significant.
It says you don't care.

It's not a good way to do business.
It's not a good way to make friends.

And in a world in which you have nine seconds to capture someone's attention - you've lost before you started. 

If you need help managing your time - may I suggest It Takes An Egg Timer - A Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life ?
available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Green-Eyed Monster

Here I sit with no shortage of topics to write about or projects to delve into. It is snowing outside with no signs of letting up until early tomorrow morning - or so says the weather report. Which should mean that cozy in the confines of my home/office this should be a very productive day. But if you ask me how many words I have written (it is now after 1PM) the answer would be to count back to the first word in this paragraph.


Not very impressive.

But that - I have come to realize - happens.

That is part of the struggle of being a creative.

That is the angst of being a creative with enough left brain tendencies to be annoyed with myself when not accomplishing what I think to be a day's work.
That is what will reoccur no matter how many times I  have gotten to the other side of this quagmire.

I am always surprised when I am in this spot. I wanted to believe the last time was - the last time. I am no less frustrated than I was before. I know all the tricks to get past this. 

Set the egg timer. 
At my desk.
Don't move until it goes off. 

But that does not mean that any of them are going to work.

The Resistance - as Steve Pressfield has so eloquently described it - is my green-eyed monster. 

Everyone has one. Mine comes equipped with little gray pellets it shoots at me than make either want to take multiple naps or do a lot of laundry. And sometimes - just when I think I am about to rise above it - my monster shoots another set that sends me off to Facebook or Twitter so I can read all the great stuff other people are writing or doing while I am just making my list. Rather than inspire me or egg me on - it makes me want to take- yet another nap.

Until something happens.
Like now.
And I get to hit publish.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Purging Of My Inbox

The other day someone unsubscribed to my blog. I got the usual sinking feeling in my stomach that I always do when I am confronted with rejection. 

Am I doing something wrong?
Am I going to lose all my readers?
Am I really just a bad writer without a clue?

I tried to quiet all that noise and this is what I got to.

Maybe, just maybe this person is doing what I've been doing. 

  • The newsletters I signed up for, liked for a while and am now done with. 
  • The newsletters I didn't sign up for but found their way in because someone shared my email without my consent.
  • The ones that propagate themselves. You know that kind? You sign up for one and suddenly you are getting five versions of the same thing several times a day and no matter how many times you think you unsubscribed they appear again.
  • The "official" junk/spam that if you open will send a virus cursing through your computer.

My inbox overfloweth. 
It's full of noise and clutter. So in preparation for the beginning of a brand new year I've been cleaning house.

Unsubscribing here, there and everywhere. Making room so I can get to what's most important for me right now. 

So I should understand. 
I shouldn't let it faze me.
But I'd be lying to say that it didn't bother me.
So I won't. 

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Friday, January 10, 2014

What Happens When I Forget Who I Am

I've been stuck. 

In a creative quagmire. 

I'd call it writer's block but if - as Mitch Joel reminded me in his blog this morning - you listen to Steve Pressfield or Seth Godin - no such thing exists. As much as I admire and respect all three, the fact remains that my ability to get words on paper has been obstructed, blocked, closed down - whatever you'd like to call it - since the New Year started. 

I feel like one of those automobiles in the now infamous traffic jam that was the brainchild of Chris Christie's staff last September. Sitting amidst this congestion of ideas and projects - all spinning in my head with nowhere to go and  no idea when the mess will let up and things start flowing again.



I've tried all my usual tricks including reading my own book and setting my egg timer. I sit and I don't let myself get up until it goes off. But I don't have much to prove for it. 

Mitch Joel asserts the Internet will break your creative block. On the one hand I agree with him because I do find reading what others write a source of inspiration. Case in point was reading his blog this morning. On the other hand it can be a huge time waster if one is not disciplined with it.

But I can't blame trolling Facebook on this stoppage. In fact, as much as I would like to affix responsibility to someone else I have really only myself to blame.

I have been writing. Just nothing I really like. Nothing I think is really good enough to be shared. Nothing that passes Upworthy's  quality test regarding content.

The one that really trips me up is "If 1 million people saw it, would the world be a better place?"   

I'd like to think so. Hope so. Believe so. But really? 

Those are the kind of suggestions that make me wonder if I will ever share one more word with anyone - ever! 

As I am writing this it's occurring to me that perhaps that might be one of the things that is contributing to the lack of creative output at the moment. I've been trying too hard. I've been waiting for perfection. I've been comparing myself to the infinite scroll of everything else that is out there and telling myself it's not as good.

I've forgotten who I am. 

A writer. 

Above all, I am a writer at my core. And a true writer writes so they can breathe. They write to function. They write to make sense of life. They write to remember who they are.

And if they wind up resonating with a million - or even one person - then that is a very good day. 

A special thanks to Mitch Joel - for the inspiration for this post!

Monday, January 6, 2014

What To Do When Technology Fails You

We expect technology to work. We expect it never to fail us. Frustration levels rise when the page we opened in Safari is taking too long to load. We can't understand why we are at a conference with bad WIFI that is preventing us  from tweeting our opinions to the rest of the world. Ten years ago a Smartphone was not a necessity and today we panic if the battery is draining too quickly and our charger is nowhere to be found. A rash of expletives fall out of our mouths when we are trying to complete a transaction on line and have a bad user experience.

We don't just expect technology to work.  We demand it. In fact many of us think it's smarter than we are. 

Humans can and do make mistakes. But not technology. 

Or so we think.

We forget that it is humans who create the technology.  And it will always be humans who need to oversee their creations.

Case in point. The day after Christmas Delta Airlines experienced a glitch in their systems that offered crazy low fares - $6.99 round trip to Hawaii. The news of the offers spread like wildfire on the social networks while humans intervened to correct the mistake. The system did not know it made an error. The humans at the other end are the ones who found out and the ones who fixed it. 

This kind of stuff happens. It will always happen. No matter how advanced artificial intelligence might get - it will break down. And what do you do when it happens to you?

In the case of Delta they did the right thing. Once they caught it they shut down the site until it was corrected. And because it was their error,  they honored the bargain fares. 

Which proves my point :

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Smartphone Free Parties Plus 4 More Predictions For 2014

It got a little too noisy out there the last few weeks. Whether it was a Tweet, a Facebook post, an email or a television show it seemed everyone had something to say about the year ending. Best Of This. Worse Of That. To Resolve Or Not To Resolve. The Year In Review. Predictions for 2014. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Every now and then I found something worth reading, but mostly not. So I pretty much shut off my digital interactions, my #jtlunchbreaks not withstanding. I read Gary Vayner's new book about all this noise, binge watched Boardwalk Empire, saw American Hustle and Osage County on the big screen, wrote up a big long list of all I have to be grateful for 2013 and another for what I want 2014 to look like. 

Curbing the amount of time one spends on-line creates a lot of quiet and room to do something rather old-fashioned - it's calling thinking. 

From that experience I came up with my own list of predictions. 

1-The Internet is not going away. This might sound foolish to even suggest but there are still people who think this is all a fad. For real. They yearn for the early '80s before commercial access to the Internet took hold. They think if they engage as little as possible their dream might come true. This news flash is for them - except they are probably not reading this.  We're past the point of dialing it back. A lot more people are on to it now. So with this prediction I expect there will be more people looking for people like me who know how to explain it all.

2-Good story will rule. The idea of storytelling - not just to write a book or develop a movie script - but for business has become very popular. Here's your second news flash. Storytelling has always been important. The best sales people have known this for centuries. Today we are giving it a label. We call it storytelling for business or content marketing.  The reason it's become so trendy is that the noisier our world becomes the more critical it is to tell an engaging, compelling story - whether you are a scriptwriter at HBO or a brand strategist for Mastercard. Lucky for me I know how to write both.

3-More people will overcome their fear of Twitter.  The myth is that Twitter is a place to tell people what you had for dinner. News flash # 3. It's a lot more than that. It's a source of information and a great place to listen and get an unfiltered and uncensored understanding for what is really going on - with your customers and the world. The best thing about it is that unlike Facebook, your personal habits are not dictating what shows up in your newsfeed. You can follow people who have no interest in following you back. That makes the likelihood of stumbling upon something fresh and interesting and out of your comfort zone much more likely. 

4-The In-Person Event will continue to make a comeback. Maybe you didn't know it went away, but maybe you have noticed there are more and more conferences and talks and events being organized. I love that I can work from home. I love that I don't need the excuse of a blizzard to not leave my apartment for two days.  But that gets old quickly. We are not designed to be interacting with technology at the expense of human interaction. We need to be physically seen. We need to smell and to talk and to touch. We need the energy of other people in our physical space to survive.  Give me the option of speaking virtually or in person and I'll always opt for the live event.

5-The more technology complicates our lives, the more we will strive for simplicity. I'm thinking the next trend will be Smartphone free parties. When your host asks you to remove your shoes so the dirt from outside doesn't get on the carpet they will also ask you to put your smartphone right next to it so the noise from it does not infiltrate the fun. Restaurants can have a smartphone check right alongside the coat check. This will encourage people to actually speak to each other instead of their phones.

This one may be a long shot but I do believe we are reaching a tipping point to just how much information and noise we can take in. Forced reprieves might just be the answer.

It also occurs to me that predictions are similar to desires. If you are essentially an optimist as I am, you might slant your predictions to what you would like to happen. I'd like a bit more simplicity. I'd like to speak at more live events this year. And of course I'd like to have more people hire me to help explain how to use all this "digital stuff" to their personal and professional advantage. 

Predictions or desires? We won't know for sure until December. In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you predict for 2014.

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