Do the right thing

It’s been a strange week for me. So many different things have happened which I won’t bore you with.

At 8pm on Monday I got a phonecall which changed my week somewhat. One of my biggest clients of our video production business, 2e2, was going into administration the next day. It was likely 100s of people would lose their jobs and my business had some exposure.

As it turned out the following morning, 319 people were asked to leave immediately and wouldn’t be paid for their January employment. Shocking mismanagement in my book.

This is a multimillion pound business, which had grown exponentially over the previous years through acquisition.

Last night I was invited to the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research annual awards ceremony because of our recent fund raising activities, where I stood with my wife, tears rolling down cheeks as we listened in awe to stories of triumph over adversity… of people giving back… being selfless and doing amazing things.

My point today is a simple one.

There are plenty of people in business out to make a quick buck, who would sell their own grandmother and trample over anything and anyone to make a few quid.

Don’t be one of them.

Have some morals. Treat people right… treat people fairly… look after those who have helped you… give something back.

After all, it’s not a rehearsal.

 

10 apps and websites to increase productivity in 2013

I’ve learnt over the last few years to get more than most people out of their day, and no, not just by working 15 hour days – by being organised, by using the right technology and by being disciplined in my use of it.

Software is just software at the end of the day. The key to success is about how you use each piece available to you and how you weave it into your workflow to best effect. Tinkering with a new tool and not properly adopting it, is just a distraction. Trialing a new tool and then figuring out how it can help you in the long run, is smart.

Some of my personal recommendations and thoughts on how to increase productivity in 2013 are listed below. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

1.) www.xobni.com

Xobni

Inbox spelt backwards and is the greatest plugin ever made for Outlook which will save you hours… honestly. There is a free version I’ve been using for the last 2 years – and an upgrade path for enhanced functionality. You won’t regret downloading it.

2.) www.horsesmouth.co.uk

Horses MouthNo one can work in complete isolation – yes even you, the lone consultant or coach – you need a team around you – a mentor, peers, industry groups and people to bounce ideas off. Get mentoring advice from people who’ve been there and bought the t-shirt.

3.) www.firefox.com

Firefox

Hands up if you still use Internet Explorer? Shame on you. Get hold of Mozilla’s Firefox. And take advantage of the amazing ‘Awesome Bar’… find URL’s you’d completely forgotten about and take advantage of add ins to enhance your workflow, such as managing Amazon S3 files or snipping images.

4.) Catch.com

Catch

Share to do lists with your colleagues and family – because productivity doesn’t stop at work. My wife and I use this. She sends me jobs, I add to shopping lists. And no, it’s not always that sterotypical in our family – I can assure you!

5.) www.stress.org.uk

Stress

You can’t work to your full potential when you’re stressed. Whilst the number of days lost through stress (in the UK at least) have fallen in the last decade, you are an individual and you need to recognise when to get professional help.

6.) www.walkjogrun.net

WalkJogRun

A fit body, leads to a fit mind – you probably know that already – but are you doing something about it? Are you exercising regularly? Are you challenging your self? This is a great Google Maps style resource for planning training routes around the office. Schedule in time to run – because what’s more important to productivity than your health?

7.) www.icloud.com

iCloud

Synchronising files, calendars, contacts etc isn’t always the most straightforward things to do initially, however once you’re set, have learned to get round the various hurdles, you’ll never look back. There’s nothing more satisfying than accessing files and data from wherever you are, with any device.

8.) www.rememberthemilk.com

RTM

Remember The Milk has become one of the industry standards for to do lists. It was pretty much the original online application and has developed over the last 9 years into a free App
too. If you like ‘electronic’ to do lists – this is the one to try.

9.) www.evernote.com

Evernote

If ever there was an app or website I couldn’t personally do without, it’s this one. I’d be surprised if you’d not heard of it – but are you using it as part of your workflow and are you getting the most from it? Evernote pretty much runs my business and personal life – it stops me from becoming distracted, provides an ongoing flow of ideas and inspiration when I need it and

10.) www.bubbletimer.com

Bubble Timer2013-01-29_09h55_38

You need to be brave to use this app… use it to track how you spend your time in front of your computer… what are you really doing? I tried this last year and the results can be quite scary if you’re not careful. It helps you to focus on what’s actually really important and get more done.

11) www.screenpresso.com

Screenpresso

A bonus website / application for you. How often do you need to grab a screenshot? If you’re anything like me – then the answer is, a LOT. I’ve tried a dozen screenshot tools over the last couple of years. This is the one I’ve settled on. It can screenshot to a network drive, can annotate quickly and can share in a heartbeat. It works and it works fast. Just what I need.

Image courtesy of Desktopped

7 things to do when you can’t concentrate

No one can work to their full potential all the time.

Depending on what’s happening in your business or personal life, you will perform at different levels. Sometimes you’ll be working away, but just can’t concentrate – and you’re just not getting anything done, or not doing it well enough. It might just be time to do something different and face the fact you’re not working to your full potential.

The list below reflects my personal experiences. Number 7 is very dear to my heart.

1) Tackle a different task

Chances are if you’re floundering at one type of task – perhaps writing a proposal, then if you move onto what I’d call ‘light duties’ and tackle simpler to do items on the list, you might well find yourself gathering momentum again. It’s OK to have to be ‘in the mood’ for writing… If you’re not – there’s little point in continuing.

2) Walk around

Anywhere will do. Walk around your office or get outside – take time to walk around the block or jump in the car and treat yourself to a Skinnylattecappucinofrappe at your overpriced cafe round the corner – a change of environment is a good thing. Try looking for something positive you have never seen. Let your mind wander. Life is going on in the world around you. You just need to notice it.

3) Set an alarm

Work on just one thing for a period of time. Maybe it’s just 5, 10 or 20 minutes. Maybe it’s two minutes. But at the end of the time, you will notice what’s it’s like to experience real focus. And if you complete the task, you’ll feel good about yourself. I do this when ‘supervising’ my son doing his homework. Set the iPhone timer and let him here it ringing…

4) Open a business book

Flick open a dusty one from your shelves to a random page and read for five minutes. Let your mind apply whatever you’re reading to whatever you are working on. Randomness is a great thing and inspiration comes in many ways.

5) Plan something fun

Sometimes, just knowing you’ve got something to look forward to in a week or a month can be a real driver. Pick up the phone, make a reservation for dinner at somewhere you can’t afford. Then look at your day differently – you need to sell, you need to deliver, you need to achieve.

6) Figure out if you’re being distracted

Look at your office environment. Is this lack of concentration happening a lot? Maybe it’s time to revisit how you work. Are you working form one 12″ laptop screen with no mouse? because that’s not condusive to being productive! Is your office cluttered? Do you have alerts coming in from all angles and children running around you? All bad.

I’ve talked about my ideal consultant office setup here.

7) Revisit the plan

Sometimes when you can’t concentrate on a task there’s an underlying lack of motivation lurking behind the scenes. Close down what you’re doing and get the plan out. The 2 year plan – the one which ties your business to your personal dreams and take a look at it. Does it need revising? Is what you’re struggling to work on fitting in with it, or does the plan need to change.

If you find the plan is still good, then maybe the task you’re stuggling with isn’t helping with your goals?

What? You don’t have a plan? We need to talk…

Image courtesy of massdistraction

The inspirational pinboard #6 – Jeff Bezos

“What’s not going to change over the next 10 years?”

A simple but ‘makes you think’ Jeff Bezos quote.

When you’re setting out in business as a consultant or coach – ask this question. Has what you’re about to embark on got longevity? Sure it’s likely to change – but are the fundamentals here to stay?

People will still be drinking beer in 10 years, but their tastes might change. People will still need help selling their products, but the audiences and techniques will change. Will people still need to be trained on a specific piece of software though?

Invest in opportunities that’ll pay off over a long time. Rarely is the ‘quick buck’ the right answer.

Click here to download the A4 pinboard poster.

Original photograph and words by Mark Copeman

How to create product screenshots without Photoshop

The product screenshot you see in this post has been generated without Photoshop or any other form of image manipulation software. It was also produced in approximately 15 seconds!

In the video below, I show you how to do it, including how to take a screenshot from your iPhone or iPad, if you’ve always wondered how.

I honestly believe it’s one of the coolest shortcut techniques I’ve ever discovered.

10 ways to get a business adrenaline rush

I bore myself (and others probably) by saying that ‘It’s not a rehearsal’

Sometimes it’s hard to make every day at work exciting, exhilarating or downright inspiring, however, if you work for yourself (doing what you enjoy and having complete control over your time and resources) means that you can have a damn good try.

Frankly, I feel for the people who go to work and then come home again and their emotional level throughout the day remains at fixed at ‘neutral’. WHERE’S THE FUN IN THAT?!

You’re put on this earth for 80+ years if you’re lucky. Chances are you’ll be working 40+ of those… that’s 90,000 hours of your life (and yes, I removed weekends and holidays). For goodness sake – let’s enjoy it!

It occurred to me yesterday that it is possible to have a business adrenaline rush. You know that feeling… the one where you feel great, feel alive and are so pleased with yourself you don’t want the day to end. This wouldn’t work every day for sure – (or your family would likely disown you on grounds of being unbearable) – but you can plan on making them happen fairly regularly.

Here are ten suggestions to lighting the blue touch paper – it’s fair to say all are based on personal experience.

  • Listen to your heart beating during the ring tone before an important call to someone you’ve never spoken to before.
  • Make an audacious appointment with someone famous, someone you admire, someone who could help you in business. And get it.
  • Make the phone call you’ve been putting off because you’ve been afraid of rejection. Savour the feeling afterwards when it wasn’t as bad as you thought.
  • Get a signature on a month-changing deal.
  • Arrange meetings so close together in a day you have to run between them.
  • Move a step closer to signing a year-changing deal.
  • Stand up and talk to an audience, ever so slightly unprepared and use your experience to get you through.
  • Say no to a client, because you’re right and leave with your head held high.
  • Plan a mini-retirement – and have confidence that your clients will still be there when you get back.
  • Be so inspired by a book, person or idea that you set your alarm even earlier than normal.
  • BONUS: Invite someone, not expecting it, out for dinner and create a new relationship which may just lead places.

Any other suggestions?

 

 

 

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

How to ask good questions…

My dad has taught me from an early age that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Asking a client for the deal, asking a partner for a better deal or asking brave questions to a prospect normally yield interesting and unexpected results. 

Sadly most people start with the premise that someone’s going to say no. If you do, you’ll ask in the wrong way. 

Be confident. If your question is a good one offering a potential win-win for both sides, then there’s every chance you’ll be surprised with the answer

Here’s some great examples of people asking bold questions and getting great and unsurprising answers.

1) The case of the lost Lego

lego-letter

2) Giraffe Bread at Sainsburys Supermarket

One simple letter from a 3 year old…
SONY DSC
Gave rise to 140,000 Likes in a Facebook campaign and this response from Sainsburys…
giraffe-bread-letter-2

3) A man who likes his steak

Peter Shankman had had a long day travelling, realised he wouldn’t have time to make or buy dinner as his flight was getting in late. He was a regular with a steakhouse, which turns out to be 23.5 miles away from New York’s Newark airport, where he was heading.
Before he got on his flight – he sent this Tweet:
porterhouse-tweet
He was joking of course… and Morton’s restaurant knew he was joking – however to return to the title of this post – you know what happens next don’t you?
They met him at the airport, much to his total surprise.
mortons-new-york
An amazing example of customer service – yes – but let’s not forget what’s actually happened here – Peter dared to ask… and he got a great and unexpected result.
Learn how to ask good questions, dare to ask a question you wouldn’t normally ask – and see what happens.
Love to hear your examples below.

Do you just belong?

Saw this poem pinned up the other day on a sports club noticeboard and it resonated with me…

Do you stand on the sidelines looking in or do you participate and get involved? It’s too easy to just watch from afar. Sure, it’s hard putting your head above the parapet – there are trolls and plenty of others to shoot you down, pick holes and generally complain. They’re a minority though.

If you are one of those who ‘just belong’… maybe 2013 is the year to try something different. After all, it’s not a rehearsal.

Are you an active member-
The kind that would be missed
Or are you just contented
That your name is on a list?

Do you attend the functions
And mingle with the crowd
Or do you stay at home
And grumble long and loud?

Do you take an active part
To help the Club along
Or are you satisfied to be
The kind that ‘just belong’?

Do you ever come along
And information seek
Or leave the work to just a few
And talk about a ‘clique’?

There’s quite a programme scheduled
That means success if done
And it can be accomplished
With the help of ‘everyone’.

So why not come along
And help with hand on heart
Don’t be ‘just a member’
But take an active part

Think this over members
Are we right or are we wrong
Are you an ‘active member’
Or do you ‘JUST BELONG’!?