Saturday, September 29, 2012

The lesson from losing my blog

Two weeks ago I changed servers for my personal website as a part of a major upgrade of my web presence in readiness for the official launch of my Enhancing Their Gifts System™ on October 1st.

One result was that the many links to this blog no longer worked due to a problem with domain mapping by Google and Blogger.  I also lost all of my emails that were tied to my previous server.

I was one of thousands affected by the domain mapping problem.  Many people vented their anger online. It never ceases to amaze me what some people say online that I am certain they would never say in person! 

I was frustrated too initially, particularly the time it took for Blogger to fix the problem.  This is a common issue.  When everything technological works it is great.  When something goes wrong it seems to take forever to fix and the basics of customer service don't seem to be understood by the giant companies.

An old lesson emerged anew for me through this experience - there are things that we can control and there are things we can't.

For a few days I let myself be controlled by things totally out of my control.  As a result I lost focus and put myself behind my schedule.  Then I came to my senses and just got on with what I could do and stopped worrying about things outside of my control.

You and I are responsible for our intentions, feelings, thoughts and actions.  We are not responsible for other people's intentions, feelings, thoughts and actions.

I hope Blogger has learned from this experience.  I thought about moving platforms yet on balance decided to stay here.  It's good to be back!

Control what you can and let go of what you can't.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian
I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.




Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Address Misunderstandings in E-mail

E-mail is one of the oldest Internet technologies, but it still causes a lot of stress, frustration and annoyance among users. Part of this is undoubtedly because of the volume of e-mail we all deal with, but a large part is also because it’s so easy to write e-mail that’s confusing, easily misunderstood or even (unintentionally) upsetting.
With a few simple techniques, you can help your clients and colleagues to be more productive when processing your e-mail. This is not just about being thoughtful and considerate of other people – although that alone is reason enough. It also helps your own productivity, because your e-mails will be clearer and easier to understand, so other people won’t have to keep writing back asking for more information.

Agree on the protocol

Agree how frequently you (and everybody else) will be checking e-mail, so you have the appropriate expectations and don’t fall into the trap of checking e-mail too often “just in case something urgent turns up”. Do your best to convince other people that e-mail should be used for important, not urgent, messages. Explain how they can contact you by other means if it’s urgent.
If you’re working in a team, establish some conventions for sending e-mail – for example:
  • Start the subject line with: “FYI” (for your information) if it’s purely for information, “Thanks” if you need to acknowledge you received it but don’t have anything to add, and “HIGH” for high-priority items.
  • Use the Priority indicator in your e-mail software to alert people to important messages – something like Low, Normal or High. But keep in mind that e-mail is for non-urgent communication, so use this only to indicate your message’s importance, not its urgency.
  • Put a person in the Cc (courtesy copy or carbon copy) list (rather than the To list) if they don’t need to take action.

Put it in context

You send a message and some time and somewhere later, your recipient reads it. You don’t know where they are, when they are reading it and what else is happening in their day. Don’t assume they remember any earlier discussion on the topic. Be on the safe side, and give them enough information so they understand your message fully.
Here are some specific techniques to use:
  • Use a descriptive subject line for every message, so it’s easy for others to recognise, file and find later. A good rule is to use a complete sentence or a question as the subject line.
  • If changing the topic when replying, change the subject line.
  • When replying to a message, quote as much of the original message as needed to provide context.

Send separate messages

When asking unrelated questions, use multiple e-mail messages. This makes it easier for others to reply to each question separately. This is an important point, but one many people get wrong – because it’s so easy to be lazy and put everything in the same message.

Write better e-mail

Use the spell-checker in your e-mail program to catch and correct simple spelling mistakes. Poor spelling and bad grammar not only harm your credibility, it also affects the recipient’s productivity.
Even after the spell-checker approves your message, review it before sending it, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and reading it from their viewpoint.
End every message with a clear statement of what you would like from the recipient, and by when you need it. That makes it easy for them to manage it among their other priorities.
Finally, include other contact information – including your phone number, address and Web address – in your e-mail signature, so the recipient can choose to reply in other ways. Including all of this information helps – for example, your address allows them to find your time zone so they can choose a good time to call you.

Send less e-mail

Consider whether you really do need to send an e-mail message. If you’re asking a question that could be answered by Google or by searching your internal documentation, don’t waste somebody else’s time.
If it’s a complex or sensitive topic, consider whether you should be using e-mail at all. It might be better to pick up the phone, or wait until you see them face to face.
If you do decide to send e-mail, send it to as few people as possible, so you don’t disrupt others unnecessarily. If somebody really doesn’t need to see it, don’t send it to them.
Similarly, when replying to a message that was sent to more than one person, think carefully before hitting the ‘Reply All’ button. If the message was intended to spark a group discussion, then you should reply to all, so everybody is included in the conversation. However, if it’s clear the original message was sent to individuals rather than to a group, then don’t reply to all.

Want more e-mail effectiveness tips?

We address e-mail in more detail in our book “Out Of Office: Using the Internet for Greater Freedom in Your Work Life”. Visit outofofficebook.com for your free chapter about how to use technology to be more productive at work.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

20 Ways to Build Your Online Reputation in 10 Minutes a Day

Joining a network like Twitter or Facebook isn't enough to build an on-line reputation; you have to participate in it as well. That's obvious, but this is one area that worries some people, who think they need to spend all day on these networks to build their reputation. That doesn't have to be the case. There are people who are constantly updating Facebook and Twitter, but you don't have to be one of them.

Instead, note this quotation attributed to Benjamin Franklin:

"It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it."

This is usually quoted as a warning about the one bad deed, but you can also think about the many good deeds. For most businesses, building an on-line reputation is a series of many small good deeds. So it is a commitment, but not a large commitment.

Let's look at 20 easy, practical ways to participate in various on-line communities. Each of these takes less than ten minutes to do, so they only take discipline, not a big time commitment.

LinkedIn

  1. Expand your LinkedIn network by connecting with somebody new (somebody you know who you're not currently connected to on LinkedIn).
  2. Look through your LinkedIn connections, and write a recommendation for somebody you know. Be sincere, specific and brief.
  3. LinkedIn groups are for members with common interests. Join a relevant group and contribute to a discussion. Be positive in your comments and build on existing comments in the discussion, especially if you're new to the group.
  4. Browse the "Answers" section on LinkedIn, and answer a question in your area of expertise. LinkedIn shows these questions and answers to people beyond your direct connections, so this is a good way to demonstrate your expertise to more people.

Twitter

  1. Promote somebody else on Twitter - an award they have won, an event they are running, a book they have written, a sale they are offering, and so on.
  2. Check Twitter right now, find something you like (for example, a link to an interesting Web site or blog post), and re-tweet it to your network. This helps the original tweeter, because you're sharing her insights with your network; and it helps you, because you become known among your followers as a source of valuable information.
  3. Find an interesting article, blog post or Web site, and send it to your Twitter followers.
  4. Thank somebody publicly on Twitter. Include their Twitter name (e.g. @gihanperera) so they see it, but the main purpose is to tell your followers why you're grateful to that person.

Facebook

  1. Look through your friends' recent status updates, find one you like, and click the "Like" link next to that update. It's a simple way to give a small note of encouragement to a friend, customer or colleague. It also helps them spread the word, because this appears in your status update, which means your other friends see it.
  2. Look through your friends' recent status updates, find something you can comment on, and add a comment. Facebook is primarily for connecting with family and friends, so you don't have to write anything clever or profound. Just something simple and sincere will do.
  3. Search for interesting groups or business pages on Facebook, join one that looks relevant, and contribute to a discussion.
  4. Connect with somebody new on Facebook (somebody you know personally, but isn't already a Facebook friend).

Reviews

  1. Write a review on Amazon.com for a book you read and liked. You don't have to write a long review - just a few paragraphs will do. This not only boosts your own Internet presence, it also helps the author promote their book, and helps other customers learn more about the book before buying it.
  2. What are your favourite apps on your smart phone? Pick one, and write a positive review for it in the iTunes App Store or the Android Market.
  3. If you enjoy listening to a particular podcast regularly, take a few minutes to write a positive review for it in the iTunes Store. This helps the podcast author, because it makes them feel valued, it boosts their ranking in iTunes, and it encourages other comments as well.
  4. Many podcasts also have an accompanying Web site, so visit that site and leave a positive comment there as well.

Commenting

  1. Find a blog post you enjoyed reading, and write a positive comment on that post. Bloggers love comments on their blog, so they will appreciate you taking the time to write a comment.
  2. Find a video you like on YouTube, and add a comment. YouTube has a handy option to automatically notify your Twitter and Facebook followers every time you comment, so use that for greater leverage.
  3. Comment in an on-line discussion group you've joined. If possible, add to the discussion in your comment, rather than just saying, "I love it!" or "Thank you". If you can't think of anything new, simply explain why you liked it (how you applied the idea, what insights you got from it, and so on).
  4. Think of two people in your network who don't yet know each other - but should - and introduce them to each other. All you have to do is send an e-mail to both, explaining briefly what each other does and why you think they should connect. They now have each other's e-mail address, so leave it to them to follow up if they wish.

That gives you 20 ideas you can use immediately to build your on-line reputation - and that's just a small sample of what you can do. I've limited this list to general ideas anybody could use, but of course you might find more specific things as well, based on the on-line communities you participate in.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Failure is feedback"

This weeks sparkenation.

I can’t go past a comment by Ross Lyon the coach of the Fremantle Dockers in the Australian Football League again this week. Following his teams loss to Adelaide he said "Failure is feedback."

How do you see failure?

I know myself that I have learned far more from failing than I ever have from succeeding.

More sparkenations here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian
I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.





Friday, September 14, 2012

Are you seeing through their eyes?

I helped a team of people through a conflict yesterday.

The trouble was everyone was seeing the issues through their eyes.

I asked people to look at the challenges through the eyes of the various stakeholders explaining that one of the skills of real leadership is being able to hold several views in your mind at once, even if you disagree with this or that viewpoint.

It was an enlightening conversation.

We then explored shared-view and how sometimes we need to let go what is precious to us in order to find a way forward that leads to what is best for all stakeholders.

See my blog about shared view here.

What emerged was a co-promise and a commitment to a win/win/win way forward that most participants thought was going to be impossible at the beginning of our conversation.

Marcel Proust had it right many years ago when he observed "The magic of discovery lies not in new landscapes but in having new eyes."

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian

I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.





Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Secret to Success with Your On-Line Strategy: Experiment!

Riley Science ExperimentI was recently helping my nine-year-old nephew Riley with a science experiment, which he was going to demonstrate in class the next day. It involved some weird combination of flour, baking soda, food colouring, straws and bottles, and we were able to create some sort of gas that bubbled, frothed and made a clear liquid change colour.
It was great fun setting it all up! But after we did the experiment the first time (and it worked!), Riley was full of questions about it – like how to make it last longer, how to make more bubbles, what would happen if we changed the mix of ingredients, and so on. We didn’t know the answers, but we were willing to try different things to see what effect they had on the result.

I wish more people would experiment!

It struck me later that this process of experimenting – in particular, the spirit of experimenting – is what we all need as business owners, especially when it comes to what we do on-line. Whether it’s running webinars, creating a Facebook page, trying out Pinterest, doing something different in your blog (or even blogging at all!), or tweaking the subject of your e-mail newsletters, it’s worth trying different things to see what effect they have on your results.
Here are five reasons why it’s useful – in fact, essential – to experiment more in your business.

1. There are no hard-and-fast rules.

There really are no fixed rules about what will work on the Internet. Sure, there are some strong, time-tested principles (give in order to get, build your authority, don’t try to reach everybody, solve your target market’s problems, and so on), but the exact way you put them into practice varies for every business. So everything you do is an experiment anyway, and if you don’t keep experimenting you’re relying on hitting the jackpot on your very first try!

2. It’s all changing so fast.

Even if you have built a solid business already, the world is changing so fast that it might only take a tiny chink in your armour to expose a small weakness that quickly challenges your entire business model. It happened with Apple and the music industry, Amazon.com and the publishing industry, mobile computing and the PC industry, and any number of things affecting the speaking industry (webinars, 9/11, the Out of Office work style, and more). If you’re lucky, your business will be shaken to the core by something big. If you’re unlucky, it will happen so slowly and insidiously that you won’t notice until it’s too late!

3. Your clients are expecting it.

Even if you aren’t experimenting, your clients are. They aren’t spending hours discussing the 30% increase to your keynote fee; they are exploring ways to eliminate the annual conference altogether. They aren’t thinking about your workshop fee; they are wondering how to make up for the lost productivity of their people attending the workshops. They aren’t debating whether to pay business-class airfares for you; they are wondering whether they can slash all their travel budgets and use virtual meetings. Even if they are thinking specifically about your services, they are wondering how to get the same results in other ways. So you’d better be thinking of these other ways as well!

4. Your competitors are already doing it.

Even if your clients aren’t aware of some of the changes happening around them, you can bet your competitors are. And it’s not necessarily the big, well-established competitors with deep pockets you need to worry about. Your biggest threat is probably going to come from smaller, more nimble, more agile competitors who are tapping into the power of the Internet to reach your clients with your message, and deliver (or at least, promise to deliver) the same results as you.

5. It’s easy to do.

One of the best things about experimenting on-line is that it’s easy to do – especially compared with a lot of off-line tactics. You don’t have to completely reinvent your business. You simply have to change a newsletter subject, try out a new app on your phone, conduct a quick survey on-line, run a private webinar for a small group, or answer a few LinkedIn questions in a group where your clients hang out. So there really is no excuse! Remember that your clients and competitors are already doing things differently, so you just can’t afford not to experiment!

Starting with the End in Mind - Exit Strategy Series | Introduction

Many SME’s have huge potential to grow into a big business. However the majority never achieve more than average results in the small business environment. Whilst the quality of the product or service and the skills of the founder are important, what makes the biggest difference is the ability of the owner to think like a large enterprise. The most fundamental way this is expressed is in the owner’s ability, and often discipline, to stop working ‘in’ the business and start working ‘on’ the business.


Most small business owners are like politicians. They have some grand scheme of the world (their business) and they do not take the time to consider what their business would look like without them in it day by day.


Whether by design or by default, all too often the founders of small businesses make themselves irreplaceable. The reality is though if they were to be run over by a bus tomorrow, the business would most likely fail. This is singularly where most (new) entrepreneurs go wrong and it is without doubt the largest obstacle to growing a business from small to medium and ultimately a large enterprise.


Most small business owners make the huge mistake of treating their business like a job. Understandable to some degree because that is what they have given themselves. If you want a company with massive growth potential you need to turn it into a saleable asset that will be attractive to potential buyers. The business of being in business is the business!


If you are one of the 70% of small business owners hoping to use the proceeds from the sale of your business to finance your retirement you may have a problem. But it is one that can be rectified. What you need to do can’t be covered in a single blog article, so there will be more articles to cover the various topics.


What you can start doing is looking at your business as a series of processes. Define each one and once defined, become more granular and define it in even more detail, i.e. break it down into more sub-processes. Document all of this in a workflow and discuss it with someone competent to understand your business. From this you will be able to start to create systems around your products, services, and back office/internal procedures.


About Paul J. Lange:
Paul J. Lange is a business mentor and business performance coach who helps small to medium enterprise and entrepreneurs to apply big business, enterprise disciplines and solutions to gain a competitive advantage and increase profits. 

Paul's 'Business DIET'© system has helped countless entrepreneurs and business owners around the world to launch start-ups, expand existing operations, and greatly improve bottom lines.

Paul is also one of Australia’s most connected management consultants, and leading business strategists, with a passion for helping corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners who are committed to achieving outstanding results.

Paul’s support will help you to develop strategic direction, implement it, execute and make more money. He will have you starting to work on your business, instead of in your business, right from day one; and if you have already started down this path, he will help you to complete the transition to business owner from business manager.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What do you do when you come up short?

This weeks sparkenation.

I was fascinated by a pre game comment by Ross Lyon the coach of the Fremantle Dockers in the Australian Football League.  He said "If we come up short we'll take a look at where we failed to execute."

What do you do when you come up short?

The Dockers won the game beating the reigning Premiers and pre game favourite Geelong.  In many post match interviews players clearly knew their individual piece of the execution map.  Such role clarity is critical in achieving optimum performance on a consistent basis by any team, anywhere, and integral to my Enhancing Their Gifts System.

More sparkenations here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian
I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.





Thursday, September 6, 2012

Enhancing their gifts - the ultimate responsibility of real leaders

I am in the final stages of development of my Enhancing Their Gifts System™ - a simple, painless, sustainable, time, energy and money saving track to lift employee performance, driven by them. It is the culmination of my life's work to make it simple for business owners and leaders to ensure that the majority of your people are performing at their best on a consistent basis.

My system is godsend for business owners and leaders.

At the moment the only way you can get the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ is when I personally come to your workplace, teach it to you, and help you implement it.

Obviously I can only do this with a small number of people every year. I have been doing so now for two decades.

This is all about to change.

From 3rd October 2012 any business owner/leader anywhere will be able to implement the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ without me in person.

This is the most exciting thing I have ever done in business.

20+ years of real world application. Authentic employee engagement, optimum performance by the majority of your people everyday, and the guaranteed execution of your strategy are the key results.

And you will be free to focus on lifting your own performance and have the time and energy to work on your business more than in it.

Three options to see if the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ is for you.

Option 1) Take the talent maximisation pulse check here.

Taking the pulse check will help you to see where you’re at in your number 1 role as a business owner/leader, maximising and deploying your people’s talents/gifts.

As a thank you for completing the pulse check, as soon as you press send you will be able to download my appendix ebook to the leaders guide in my Enhancing Their Gifts System™ - 45 really useful tools, tips and techniques for recruiting, engaging and retaining great people, a resource 100's of people worldwide have already used to help them maximise the gifts/talents of their people.

In a great book The Talent Masters - why smart leaders put people before numbers, authors Bill Conaty and Ram Charan state:
“Talent will be the big differentiator between companies that succeed and those that don’t.”

I couldn’t agree more.

They also state:
“Talent masters understand the subtleties that differentiate people.”

Talent is another word for gift. My life’s work is to help business owners and leaders lift employee performance by identifying and enhancing their gifts.

Bill Conaty and Ram Charan also state:
“The enlightened CEO recognizes that his top priority for the future is building and deploying the talent that will get it there.”

I help people to be such enlightened leaders.

Option 2) Subscribe to my complimentary 9 lessons online Enhancing Their Gifts course here.

Option 3) Register for the first demonstration clinic on October 2nd. Details are here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian
I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

PS If you already have a talent leadership and management system in place please read below.

The Enhancing Their Gifts System™ works regardless of what you have or don’t have. It has been deliberately designed to work with any system. The 1 piece of paper that is essential for the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ to work will not conflict in any way with paperwork or electronic forms you may already have.

The key question for you is; Do your employees love what you currently have?
If your answer is no, implementing and embedding the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ will be a godsend.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Catching People Doing Things Right!

 I am very excited that my friend and founder of The Wow Awards Derek Williams is coming to Australia. I am honoured that Derek and myself finally get the opportunity to work together on September 13th in Melbourne to share some breakthrough insights into what constitutes providing remarkable customer service.

As customers, all of us know that way too many organisations make claims about their 'commitment to service' while failing to deliver on their promises.

We've discovered that there are a number of reasons why this happens, which has enabled us to uncover what organisations can do to stand-out based on a reputation for delivering great customer experiences.

We're delighted to share these insights in this afternoon seminar on September 13th.

Derek will be sharing his experiences and thinking after 15 years of running The Wow Awards, with organisations as diverse as Jones Lang LaSalle, British Gas, Edinburgh City Council, Cadbury and many other blue chip companies.

And I will be sharing insights into your number one role as a business owner/leader, enhancing and deploying your people’s talents/gifts.

All the details for our Melbourne event on September 13th are here.

Derek is also presenting his insights along with those of a great mutual friend Steve Simpson in Brisbane on 11th September 2102, and in Sydney on 17th September 2102.

If you can’t make it to any of these events I highly recommend that you get in touch with Derek and discuss bringing The Wow Awards to your place and start to benefit from Catching People Doing Things Right.


Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian
I work with business owners/leaders and leaders of business units in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.