Welcome to the Be Heard podcast where each week for we’ll inject simplicity into marketing for your business. My name is Lisa D. Sparks and I am passionate about your success as a small business owner. During the next few minutes, you’ll be inspired, gain key insights, and find ways to improve what you’re already doing to make yourself heard in the marketplace.
It’s a gorgeous spring day here in Philadelphia and I want to take full advantage of the weather today. Just a few days ago it snowed so the weather here is a bit unpredictable. In a few minutes, I’ll be running out to meet a friend for lunch downtown. This week I’ll be sharing information about creating the right mindset for resilience, how to get the most out of your work time, the best ways to track your efforts in client acquisition and retention. Plus I’m including a review of Charles Duhigg’s latest book called Smarter Faster Better. Now let’s dive in!
The Mindset Minute!
This week’s mindset minute is about resilience. I recorded the entire podcast yesterday. I mixed it and did all I was supposed to do to make it sound amazing. Then, I got up to take a break while the system uploaded the completed show to my server. My laptop fell. It crushed the thumb drive that contained the show. The drive was destroyed. That was months of work down the drain.
My laptop was fine. After making a “meltdown call” to a friend, I created a graphic. I simply crossed out the premiere date, wrote that we had a tech meltdown, and posted a new premiere date for the next day – today – April 13.
Without the mindset of resilience, I would never have been able to take that step back and recover from the loss of that work, inspiration, and time. It still stings. But with the mindset of resilience I’m able to record this podcast today. Here are a few ways I develop that mindset:
- Be disappointed. It really is okay to fall down, cry, curse the heavens. Be real. Feel what you’re feeling completely. If not, it will come back in smaller, passive aggressive ways later on. Get the anger out of the way.
- Talk to someone. This is where having an accountability partner or a mastermind group, or an emergency meltdown contact comes in handy. I happened to ask my friend to pray for me right then and there over the phone. As she was praying I thought of the next step I would take to recover from the madness that just happened.
- Take positive action. This was the toughest part for me. I had to do more work even after all the other work I had just done had disappeared in a millisecond. I broke down the process of creating the notification graphic step-by-step. I built up a series of small wins. I opened the program, found the old graphic, updated the graphic with new content, distributed the graphic to update my listeners and then I shut off the computer and got something to eat.
Now here I am today. I don’t know why the original recording of the podcast got destroyed on that thumb drive. Maybe I never will know. I do know this process for being resilient has proved useful to me over and over again in getting back up when some of the worst have happened for what appear to be no reason.
Quick recap: Be disappointed. Talk to someone. And then take positive action. As I look back on how I’ve been able to recover from things, I find these three steps are always present. Use them and let me know how it goes for you.
Book Review: Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
The book Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg follows his first book The Power of Habit. It was a triumph. That book had so much powerful information in it that I base my entire coaching practice on the principles within. The storytelling grabbed me more than anything else in that book. Duhigg combined powerful lessons and information about how we form habits with retellings of how those lessons play out with superstar athletes such as Michael Phelps and others. It is a classic book on change. Duhigg’s follow-up to that masterpiece is called Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business.
I wondered if there would be anything useful here since habit formation and productivity are next door neighbors in my world. Reading the book I found Smarter Faster Better to be a good continuation of Duhigg’s exploration into change. To become more productive, I have to change something. To get more, I have to do something different. For me, that’s the essence of change. Smarter Faster Better puts Duhigg’s storytelling skills on display once again and I easily absorbed the lessons he shared about productivity while satisfying that need for a bit of drama, controversy, and other hallmarks of human behavior that make stories so much fun. The story of the disappearance of Air France flight 447 gave me tunnel vision. I was in the cockpit with the pilots. I could see the waves of the ocean lapping close to the wings of the airplane. I felt the fear as the aircraft descended into the sea. I came away with the lesson of knowing it’s important to be meticulous in listening to others, correcting mistakes when necessary, and have a systemic approach to anticipating and addressing problems before they approach critical mass.
Overall Smarter Faster Better challenged me to change the way I set my goals. Although I love small wins because they give me momentum, I have to make those small wins within the context of bigger goals so that I make progress. Those small wins add up and account for something big and what I may have previously thought was unattainable. Smarter Faster Better isn’t a classic, but it is useful and challenging. It’s a good read that may not be super-urgent if you have a backlog of business books on your shelf, but I would definitely get around to reading it if you have a team you’d like to make more productive. I could see reading this and applying it if you have a network of virtual assistants. I plan on using it for my mastermind group as well. Enjoy!
Cool Process: Tomato Timer Technique
One of the best ways I’ve found to be productive is to use the Tomato Timer Technique. It’s a way for me to tackle my not-so-fun tasks such as reading certain manuals or figuring out processes that are a bit of a drag. The technique is twenty-five-minute sprints of nonstop work and then a five-minute break. After four of those sprints you’ve earned a 10-minute break.
For me it’s the perfect productivity tool. I get fidgety sometimes and knowing my break is only a few minutes away helps me to focus on the task at hand. Whenever I feel like jumping up and doing something else while I’m in the middle of a project, I just jot that “something else” down on a piece of paper. When my five-minute break comes around I can get to the things that had popped into my mind while I was supposed to be working. It’s great for creating discipline in my writing along with creating a consistent flow of reading material consumption.
A bit of background on the Tomato Timer: A computer programmer named Francesco Cirillo came up with the technique while he was in college during the 80s. He knew he’d be guaranteed 50 minutes of solid work time out of an hour, giving himself the balance he needed to work and to have a quick bathroom break or to grab a bite to eat. The technique caught on and it’s used by thousands to actually develop the discipline to get things done.
One app I use to track my time with the Tomato Timer Technique is called Brain Focus. It’s a polite but insistent little app for my phone that has a sound effect or a vibration when my twenty-five minutes are up. I love it. This technique is one of the many things that gave me confidence to start this podcast, knowing I would have the stamina, strength and will to complete the episodes because I follow the Tomato Timer Technique.
By the way, Cirillo named the technique Pomodoro because he’s Italian and the timer he used for his sprints was shaped like a tomato. Cool, hunh?
- 25 minutes on – 5 minutes off
- By Francesco Cirillo when he was a student in the 80s
- Super productive when I have to plow through work I don’t want to do
- Forces me to get it done and shine like a star
- Treasure the five minutes
- Make the most of the 25 minutes
- Gets results – not stressed out
- The unfun becomes tolerable
- After an hour take a 10-minute break
Best Resource: Hubspot CRM
I’m really into HubSpot’s new CRM tool. CRM meaning customer relationship management or client relationship or contact relationship management. Whatever you want to use for the ‘c’ in that acronym it’s a great way to track where your money is coming from in terms of your sales and marketing efforts. I’m obsessive about tracking this stuff because I want to know what’s going well and what isn’t so I can stop doing what isn’t great and do more of what is bringing in that cash.
I’m perpetually in the market for a good crm system. I like to track everything I do to get a new client. That includes how many emails I’ve sent, the times I’ve contacted that person through LinkedIN and whether I’ve sent a proposal or not. What I like about Hubspot CRM is that it requires very little data entry of my contact’s information. I now have access to a tool that pulls over the contact information of the people in my LinkedIN network into the Hubspot system. Plus it has an area for templates. This way I get to send information to my clients without having to re-type the same introductory email content. It’s great. It’s still missing a few things. For instance, once I sign a client it’s usually for a recurring project. There’s no easy way for the system to represent that recurring income without me having to re-enter the project.
But Hubspot CRM has one critical benefit I absolutely love – goals. I can set a sales goal for the week and it helps me track all I’m doing to get to that goal. That’s powerful for those times when I need to re-orient myself and figure out where I am in the whole sales goal part of my business. It’s great motivation and an easy way to get simplicity and focus into my sales efforts. I like it. Hubspot CRM isn’t perfect but it suits my needs for now. It’s free and Hutbspot says it’s free forever but I’m not so sure about that. I’m getting the most out of it that I can right now and then I eventually plan to migrate to something better in the future. Check it out. It’s a good little tool. I especially like the way it integrates with gmail. Whenever I email a prospect or client I only have to click a box and the email is saved into the Hubspot CRM system. Plus it lets me know when the person has opened the email and how many times they’ve done it.
I like Hubspot CRM. You may get some benefit out of it too. The biggest benefits are the goal setting and low emphasis on data entry. The drawback is that tracking the financial part of projects isn’t as seamless as the other parts of the tool.
Closing this show out and preview of next episode
I hope you enjoyed today’s show. It’s a labor of love and I’m glad you were able to spend the last 15 minutes with me. On tap for next week I’ll be reviewing Lewis Howes’s book “The School of Greatness.” Plus I have a nice little tool for keeping in touch with my LinkedIN contacts and I’d like to share that with you. I’ll also have a fresh Mindset Minute and plenty other cool resources to send your way. Until next week enjoy and be sure to Be Heard!
Episode 2 Preview:
Mindset Minute: GoDaddy Upselling
Book Review: The School of Greatness
Cool Process: Process Review – Do it once. Outsource it forever.
Best Resource: LinkedIN Connector
Tuesday, April 19!