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Saturday, April 6th, 2013

7 Easy Ways to Tackle Your To-Do List

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I write a to-do list at the start of just about every day, but it can be tedious so I look for ways to shake up the process. Here are some ideas I find useful (in no particular order):

1) ABC Method — Try the ABC Method in which you write down the tasks you need to do and categorize them by:

  • A = Critical to your goals and must be done that day.
  • B = These are less urgent but should be started after your A’s are done.
  • C = These are nice-to-do tasks that can be done if you’ve got some extra time

2) The 1-to-10 Stress Method

  • List down all the to-dos that are stressing you out at the moment
  • Rank them 1 to 10 in which 10 is stressing you out the most and 1 the least
  • Tackle the tasks ranked 10 first, 9 next, 8 after that, etc.

3) Andreessen’s 3 to 5 Things on an Index Card — Marc Andreessen found it valuable to write down 3 to 5 things that you want to get done the following day. He does the following:

  • The night before he writes the 3 to 5 most things he wants to get done on an index card
  • He wakes up and tries to do those things
  • For anything else he does (not on the list), he writes those things down on the opposite side of the index card and calls them his “anti-to-do” list.
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Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

The Homework I Gave To My Friend Who Wanted To Generate $60K to $250K in Passive Income

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My good friend (let’s call her Rita) recently asked me for tips on how to generate extra passive income of $60,000 to $250,000 per year.

Rita wanted to do this so that her life-partner (who has a stressful job) could live a more comfortable life, and the two of them could pursue some “do-good” creative projects to better the world.

I couldn’t guarantee her anything but she asked for a meeting with me and I came up with some homework that she could do ahead of time (mostly to read some of my past articles and do some exercises).

I know the links/tips I include are all my own…but, hey, that’s what I know best. ;)

I thought I’d share with you my email to Rita in case you or someone you know wants to make some more $dough.

It’s not easy, but if you are serious about wanting to increase your income you’re going to have to put in some work. Here it is.

Dear Rita,

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Saturday, July 16th, 2011

5 Easy Ways To Increase Serendipity

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I love serendipity — who doesn’t? I met a mayoral candidate for San Francisco last year due to some stuff I did to increase serendipity.

We all love serendipity — is it ever even a negative thing?

You never hear someone say:

“That guy really stabbed me in the back — how serendipitous.”

Right?

The layman’s definition of serendipity is “happy accident” — the word serendipity is said to come from author Horace Walpole who riffed on the word Sernedip (an old name for Sri Lanka) used in a fairy tale called “The Three Princes Of Serendip” about making discoveries by accident.

Here are 5 things I do to increase serendipity:

1) Send Out “Beacons” To Let Others Know You Exist

The most effective way to increase serendipity is to send out “beacons” — I first heard this mentioned by entrepreneur Jack Hidary in the book Power of Pull.

Jack — who works on the neat iAmplify.com business with his brother Murray — uses the analogy of a ship at sea that sends out beacons to let others know where it is and where it’s headed.

Beacons — I like that.

Here are some examples of beacons I’ve used to increase serendipity:

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Monday, April 25th, 2011

The 10 [Maniacal] Steps I Take For Setting Goals

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It took me 40 years to figure out that the key to life is feeling like I had a fulfilling day — I accomplish that through setting goals…and I’m maniacal about them.

I believe that without goals your progress comes to a screeching halt. As Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator once said:

“Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality.”

One thing I learned in my goal setting was that these 9 topics matter most...I now keep them nearby

Here’s how I set my goals:

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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

7 Tips On How To Motivate Your Team (Hint: Make Them Feel "Progress")

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A feeling of “progress” may be the most important motivator for you or your team, according to a Harvard Business Review study on what motivates people (thanks to my colleague Mary for pointing this one out).

The HBR study took an interesting angle on motivation by studying hundreds of workers and digging into what happens on a great work day.

Image courtesy of José-Manuel Benito Álvarez, Wikipedia.

The gist of the study is that on days when workers feel like they’re making progress on projects their emotions are positive and that increases their drive to succeed.

The opposite is true: when workers are feeling like they’re on the “hamster wheel,” working hard with little in the way of results, they feel negative emotions and their performance plummets.

And the progress that your team feels can even be small…and they’ll still feel motivated!

7 Tips For How To Motivate Your Team Through Progress

1) Set SMART Goals

To motivate your team through the feeling of progress, you’re gonna first need to work with them to set goals.

The goals you set should be SMART Goals:

  • Specific — Well defined, clear to everyone
  • Measurable — There should be a metric or some measurement to identify how you’re progressing on your goal.
  • Agreed-Upon — The goal should be agreed upon by the people working on it.
  • Realistic — The goal can be ambitious but should be within reason
  • Time-based — Every goal should have a time-line.

2) Provide Resources Necessary to Achieve Goals

You as a leader should do whatever you can to provide the resources necessary for your team to work on reaching goals.

Spend 1-on-1 time with them to discuss the goals and ask them what they need to reach them.

3) Hold Frequent Meetings To Chunk Down Goals

Let’s say you’ve got your team’s quarterly goals in place.

Now you’re gonna want to set up frequent meetings within the quarter to discuss them.

I recommend that you meet with your team either daily (or every other day) (see Daily Huddle).

In those huddles, ask your direct report to list things that they could do in THAT WEEK to make progress on the quarterly priorities.

E.g. If your quarterly goal is to close a major partnership with a single Fortune 100 customer, then ask your direct report at the start of a week what is it that they can commit to doing to moving that priority forward.

Example of chunking down the quarterly goal:

  • If it’s the beginning of the quarter, the first week’s goal may be as simple as committing to identifying the 10 Fortune 100 customers your direct report is going to go after.
  • The following week’s goal may be to telephone a contact at each of the ten Fortune 100 customers.
  • In the week after that, your direct report may agree to commit to making a proposal to a certain Fortune 100 customer.
  • Etc.

Now, as your direct report makes headway on these chunked-down goals, they will have a feeling of progress.

Remember this nugget of wisdom from my business hero Coach John Wooden (I’m paraphrasing):

Progress is not necessarily reaching your goal…progress is working as hard as you reasonably can on your goal and then letting the results be what they may.

4) Celebrate Milestones

When you reach your goals (i.e. milestones), take a moment to celebrate.

Acknowledge each and every person involved in the project…ideally with specifics on what they contributed to its success.

As a CEO, I ask my team to remind me of whenever anyone does something impressive…and then I try to write a quick congratulatory note to that team member (cc:ing their manager).

5) Acknowledge Failure As Progress

Don’t forget that failure is progress.

For example, your team may have a goal of trying to close certain types of customers or partnerships. If you explore one such deal and it’s not a good fit (for you or the other party), that is still progress.

Remember the old adage about the vacuum salesperson who realizes he has to knock on 50 doors before he makes a sale of one $50 vaccum:

“Each failure (closed door) is worth a dollar!” (because he gets $50 for knocking on 50 doors)

So when someone slams the door shut on a component of your goals, just move on — cuz you’re that much closer to getting what you want.

6) Be Authentic

This one’s easy: your praise of people should always be authentic.

Don’t tell someone they “really moved the ball forward” when you actually don’t know what they did.

7) Be Decisive

If you as a leader are indecisive about decisions around goals and priorities then you delay the feeling of progress that your team gets when they either reach (or fail to reach) their goal.

Progress is tough to feel when leadership is wishy-washy.

So be decisive about such things as:

  • Setting goals
  • Providing resources to help the goals get reached
  • Pulling the plug on deals/losing deals (once in awhile you will either want to pull the plug on a deal or you will have it pulled for you by another party — this is ok, just make it fast).

If you can work on the above 7 tips, you will help motivate your team though progress.

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Monday, May 11th, 2009

3 Simple Steps To Run An Effective Meeting: The GAP Approach

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I get asked about how to run effective meetings all the time. As I wrote about in my Daily Huddle Article, how you run meetings has a material effect on your business.

If You Run Poor Meetings, No One Will Show Up

If You Run Poor Meetings, No One Will Show Up

I believe that the difference between a dull meeting and an amazing meeting is how you organize it.

I originally heard about one meetings format used by a consultant to a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary and I think it works just great.

It’s called G.A.P and it stands for Goal, Agenda and Preparation.

I believe every meeting should have all three!

Goal

The goal, or purpose, of the meeting needs to be stated upfront. A good way to remember what goes into a goal (for meetings or anything else) is that it should be a SMART Goal as in:

S = The goal should be Specific

M = The goal should be Measureable

A = The goal should be Achievable

R = The goal should be Relevant

T = The goal should be Timely (it should be reachable by the time the meeting ends)

That gets you off to the right start to a SMART meeting!

Agenda

When you hold a meeting, you need to have an agenda…even if the agenda is to have no agenda. Huh?

What I’m saying is that you as the meeting organizer need to state how the attendees are going to use the time at the meeting. The agenda could be something as simple as:

  1. Description of Problem You Face (10 minutes)
  2. Input From Each Team Member (10 minutes)
  3. Recommendation on Next Steps (10 minutes)

Or, if you’re not going to have something so structured, then state that the agenda is:

  • Open Discussion (30 minutes)

Preparation

A key to most meetings is preparation (by you the meeting organizer and by the attendees).

So, if you call a meeting, tell the attendees what they need to do to prepare.

When they join the meeting, should they have already reviewed a spreadsheet that you sent out? Do they need to have collected information from someone inside or outside the company?

Tell them how to prepare…if there’s no advanced preparation then I like to just say: “No Preparation…Just Bring Your Brain.”

If you use online calendars to schedule meetings, you should put the entire Goal, Agenda and Preparation (GAP) within your calendar invitation.

Follow GAP and you’ll have better meetings.

Note: You may have heard of another “GAP” used in business: the GAP Analysis strategic planning tool. Read How to Do A Gap Analysis for more on this valuable tool.

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