Forty marketing professionals. Fifteen pots of coffee. A hundred new marketing ideas. All in just 24 hours, on zero sleep and at zero cost to the community. The WhiteSpace Creative 2013 CreateAthon was our largest, most substantial effort yet.
One agency re-branding three deserving nonprofits — the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, the Battered Women’s Shelter and the Victim’s Assistance Program — from the ground up.
In 2002, when WhiteSpace was a nine-person design shop wanting to give back to the community, we kicked off our first CreateAthon. The brainchild of a South Carolina-based firm, Riggs Partners, the National CreateAthon was a fledgling round-the-clock creative marathon providing pro bono marketing and communication services to nonprofit organizations.
In retrospect, our inaugural CreateAthon’s uncomplicated nature reflected WhiteSpace as an agency at the time. We were just four designers, two account executives, a copywriter, an office manager and an intern producing a few modest communication materials.
Growth in size and ability
In the 12 years since that premier event, WhiteSpace has grown substantially in both size and ability. As our agency has evolved, so has our approach to CreateAthon. Getting bigger meant we could make a bigger impact.
Sure, increasing the number of nonprofits and projects also increased our stress level. Heads banging on keyboards at 1 a.m. Brisk walks through downtown Akron at 2 a.m. Adult beverages uncapped around 5 a.m.
It also added to our degree of satisfaction. Early on Friday morning, when we finally revealed our projects to the nonprofits, we got more heads nodding with approval. More smiles. More tears of appreciation.
To date, the WhiteSpace CreateAthon has benefited more than 100 nonprofit organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. That’s more than 300 projects — valued at more than half a million dollars — making a difference for thousands of people throughout the region.
Over the past two years, the WhiteSpace CreateAthon has morphed into an Extreme Brand Makeover competition where nonprofits compete for a branding “package” valued at more than $25,000. It’s another reflection of our company’s restructuring. Rather than producing individual projects for our clients, WhiteSpace — as an agency and for CreateAthon — is immersed in developing integrated programs.
You don’t have to outgrow the concept
CreateAthon is a perfect example of how a company doesn’t have to outgrow a concept. Yes, WhiteSpace has changed significantly over the past 12 years, but the important things have remained the same. Last September, as the sun began to rise and signaled the end of our 12th CreateAthon event, I looked around at the 40 WhiteSpace employees wearing sweats, baseball caps and slippers in place of their pressed pants, ties and heels. These are people who not only gave up sleep, but precious time with their families. I realized then, that whatever our size, it’s WhiteSpace’s commitment to attracting others who share the belief that “it’s not what you get; it’s what you give” that keeps us successful.
As WhiteSpace — and CreateAthon — continue to grow, I can’t help but think how fortunate I am to have gathered this exceptional group of talent that cares about the extra things we do as a company, that cares about each other, that cares about the long-term success of our clients and, especially, cares about our community. Even at 3 a.m. ●
Keeven White is the president and CEO of WhiteSpace Creative. He openly shares his expertise and experience with the community through a variety of speaking engagements and has been recognized for his business, creative and community service efforts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.whitespace-creative.com.
It’s safe to say that individuals are more likely to do business with organizations they trust. With that in mind, establishing and preserving a good name is critical to the long-term success of any organization.
In my book “Building Your Company’s Good Name: How to Create & Protect the Reputation Your Company Wants & Deserves” I provide checklists, step-by-step instructions and real-world examples organizations need to succeed. Here are the three cornerstones to building a good name for your organization.
Ask tough questions
Reputation building starts with asking tough questions and insisting on truthful answers. Here is a partial list of questions you should be asking:
- Are you getting and keeping the customers you really need?
- Are you able to recruit and retain excellent employees?
- Are you creating important new relationships on a regular basis?
- Is your business growing at the rate it should?
- Do stakeholders know what makes you distinctive?
- Do you really care about stakeholders in ways they understand and appreciate?
- Do you have vulnerabilities that need to be fixed before they blow up into a crisis?
- Do your company’s actions match its words?
- Do you give people reasons to trust?
If a good reputation is on your wish list, ask the tough questions and get the right people in the room to help answer them. Then, implement an improvement agenda.
Focus on the relationships that matter
Every company has 10 or 20 key relationships. It’s never a big number, but it’s the people who can make or break your enterprise. Their impact on your company’s reputation is huge.
Keep them current. Ask for their advice. Track those relationships. Provide lots of TLC along the way. Be upfront with those key relationships when there is a problem or an issue. Never, ever surprise them. Whether the news is good or bad, they need to hear it from you first.
Set the bar high
What goal is higher than wanting to be the organization of choice?
That starts with establishing your organization as distinctive in ways that mean something to your stakeholders.
You can achieve distinctiveness in the workplace when you encourage a culture that values teamwork or which constantly reinforces the expectation of high ethical standards.
You can achieve distinctiveness with customers by constant repetition of actions that place their interests ahead of yours or by services that are truly easy to navigate.
Almost without exception, organizations can identify distinctiveness and those that can’t do so today can identify potential to reach that goal tomorrow.
Define what your organization does really well. Make sure everyone reinforces that distinctiveness in ways that address benefits to others. ●
Davis Young is the principal of DY Author & Speaker LLC and is the author of “Trust is the Tiebreaker,” an e-book published by Smart Business Network, currently on www.amazon.com. Contact Young at (440) 248-9550 or Dysolon@aol.com.
The idea of driving aimlessly seems glamorous in movies and songs. In reality, few of us get in a car without knowing how to reach our destination. We’ve created smartphone apps, GPS devices and satellite mapping to make our trips as efficient as possible and to avoid what we know to be an inconvenient, expensive outcome — getting lost.
I bring up this idea because many companies using social media have inadvertently become lost drivers. They start using social platforms with the goal of reaching some number of likes, retweets or shares, but as they embark on their social media strategies, many experience a disconnect between the content they post, blog and tweet and their progress on measurable business goals. These companies are driving without a roadmap; they just don’t know it.
Sound familiar? If social media isn’t working for you, your social media approaches may be missing a fundamental component: an effective content strategy. Here are three ways a solid content strategy will enhance your company’s social media success.
A like is just a like
All social media engagement is not created equally. To be successful, the social media activity that you generate needs to support your marketing goals — whether you want to improve employee engagement, boost customer conversions or build interest in a new product.
Creating a content strategy before you engage in social media will help your business clarify the specific marketing goals you want to achieve through content, as well as what messages you need to communicate to reach those goals. This process will ensure you get the right likes, shares and retweets from social interactions.
Social is a vehicle
Social media is a vehicle for sharing compelling content with your audience, and it doesn’t work if you don’t know what issues, topics and trends your audience finds compelling. Part of developing a content strategy involves learning how those you are trying to reach want to be talked to. Where do they go for information? How much time do they spend online? What kind of content are they looking for from your industry?
By getting to know the interests and pain points of your audience (customers, employees, shareholders, etc.), you can develop tactics to reach your online audience more effectively, saving you time and enhancing your company’s social influence.
Relevant content is meaningful
Kings of social content don’t become that way by luck. They use strategic tactics to connect with their audience through the right channels at the right times. More importantly, they make these connections meaningful and memorable by posting and sharing strategic, relevant content that their audiences desire.
When you deliver social content that your audience members find valuable or interesting, they’ll reward you by sharing your content, engaging with your business and, ideally, helping to promote your reputation as a thought leader in your business or industry. A content strategy allows you to do that by providing a roadmap for what kinds of informative, helpful, educational or creative content you need to make meaningful interactions.
As a recent Huffington Post article put it, the golden rule of the web is clear: “To know us better is to sell us better.” Ultimately, being successful in the social media space means taking the time to map out what success looks like. In this sense, a solid content strategy is not only an important component of any social media strategy, it’s the key to driving the results your business wants.
Michael Marzec is chief strategy officer of Smart Business and SBN Interactive. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7078.
When Albert “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap was the CEO at Sunbeam in the late ’90s, he had a reputation for ruthlessness. Besides massively downsizing the company, he was also known to intimidate everyone around him and resort to yelling and fist pounding.
While extreme, Dunlap’s behavior is an example of the type of “dictator” leadership that used to be fairly common in the C-suite. Rules were rules, there were no exceptions for anything and people were just a line item on a budget. Need to cut thousands of jobs? Don’t think twice about it.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Christ-like leader. This leader focuses more on building people up rather than tearing them down. This type of leader understands that there are rules, but sometimes to do the right thing, the rules need to be broken. For example, during the economic downturn, some Christ-like leaders went well beyond what was called for to make sure laid-off employees were taken care of.
They made sure they had the use of office resources to look for a new job and did everything they could to lessen the hardships. They weren’t required to do this; it was just the right thing to do. They saw employees as human, not just numbers on a spreadsheet.
Does it cost money to take the more humane route with your leadership? Yes and no. From a short-term, bottom-line perspective, it probably does cost a few more dollars to help people through a hardship. But long term, it can pay dividends. By treating people with respect and doing the right thing, it helps eliminate animosity toward you and your company from both the ex-employees and current ones. Maybe there are some good employees who you wanted to keep, but couldn’t afford. By showing compassion, when the economy turned around, they were far more likely to consider coming back than if they had just been shown the door with little regard to their well-being.
And what happens when these ex-employees end up in key positions in companies that could be customers? Do you think an ex-employee who you mistreated is going to buy anything from you or recommend your company to someone? It’s a small world, and what goes around often comes around, so it’s always best to treat people as best you can.
You can lead like a dictator and still get results. But do the ends justify the means? Will you conquer all, only to find yourself alone with no friends, the equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol?” Or will you have an epiphany and realize there’s a better way to do things?
During this holiday season, think about your leadership style and the long-term effect it has on people’s lives. If this exercise makes you uncomfortable, then maybe it’s time to change how you lead. ●
What would it take for a company to succeed if its leader could effectively do only one of the following: innovate, instigate or administrate? We all know that an innovator is the one who sees things that aren’t and asks why not? The instigator sees things that are and asks why? The administrator doesn’t necessarily ask profound questions but, instead, is dogged about crossing the “t’s,” dotting the “i’s” and making sure that whatever is supposed to happen happens.
Ideally, a top leader combines all three traits while being charismatic, intellectual, pragmatic and able to make decisions faster than a speeding bullet. Although some of us might fantasize that we are Superman or Superwoman, with a sense of exaggerated omnipotence, the bubble usually bursts when we’re confronted simultaneously with multiple situations that require the versatility of a Swiss army knife.
Business leaders come in all shapes and sizes with various skill sets and styles that are invaluable, depending on the priorities of a company at any given point in time.
Every business needs an innovator to differentiate the company. Without a unique something or other, there isn’t a compelling reason to exist. Once those special products or services that distinguish the business from others are discovered and in place, it takes an instigator to continuously re-examine and challenge every aspect of the business that leads to continued improvements, both functionally and economically. It also takes an administrator — someone who can keep all the balls in the air, ensuring that everyone in the organization is in sync and delivering the finished products as promised to keep customers coming back.
As politicians and pundits of all types have pounded into our heads in recent years, “It takes a village to raise a child.” All who practice the art and science of business have learned that, instead of a village, it takes a diverse team working together to make one plus one equal three.
On the ideal team, each member possesses different strengths, contributing to the greater good. The exceptional leader is best when he or she is an effective chef who knows how to mix the different skills together to create a winning recipe.
In many companies, however, leaders tend to surround themselves with clones who share similar abilities, interests and backgrounds. As an example, a manufacturer may have a management team comprised solely of engineers, or a marketing organization could have salespeople who came up through the ranks calling all the shots.
If everyone in an organization comes from the same mold, what tends to happen is, figuratively, one lies and the others swear to it. This builds to a crescendo of complacency and perpetual mediocrity.
There is a better way. Good leaders surround themselves with others who complement their capabilities, and savvy leaders select those with dramatically different backgrounds who will challenge their thinking because they’re not carbon copies of the boss. This opens new horizons, forges breakthroughs and leads to optimal daily performance.
Strange bedfellows can stimulate, nudge and keep each other moving toward the previously unexplored.
To have a sustainable and effective organization, you can’t have one type without all the others. While everyone on the team may not always agree, each player must always be committed to making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
The single most important skill of the leader who has to pull all the pieces and parts together is to have the versatility of that Swiss army knife — selecting the precise tool to accomplish the objective at hand. ●
Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988, starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money. During a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in December 2003. In 2010, Feuer launched another retail concept, Max-Wellness, a first of its kind chain featuring more than 7,000 products for head-to-toe care. Feuer serves on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and building entrepreneurial enterprises. “The Benevolent Dictator,” a book by Feuer that chronicles his step-by-step strategy to build business and create wealth, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Reach him with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than 800 years ago, medieval philosopher Maimonides outlined eight levels of charity, the greatest of which was supporting an individual in such a way that he or she becomes independent. In Maimonides’ view, support was defined as a gift or loan, entering into a partnership or simply helping that person find employment.
Few things are more powerful than philanthropy — especially when its end goal is to better the lives of others. These days, philanthropy, and corporate philanthropy specifically, has assumed a broader role in society.
Today, companies give back more strategically than ever before. They align themselves with nonprofits that foster missions they believe in. The wealthiest people on the planet have even coordinated the Giving Pledge (www.givingpledge.org), where they’ve committed to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
At last count, more than 115 people had taken the pledge. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates may be the most prominent names on the list, but others include Spanx Founder Sara Blakely, Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert, Progressive’s Peter Lewis and Netflix Founder Reed Hastings.
Last month, one member, David Rubenstein, CEO and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, discussed the importance of philanthropy during a presentation at EY’s 2013 Strategic Growth Forum.
In his pledge letter, Rubenstein explains why: “I recognize to have any significant impact on an organization or cause, one must concentrate resources, and make transformative gifts — and to be involved in making certain those gifts actually transform in a positive way.”
One way Rubenstein is being transformative is through “Patriotic Philanthropy.” He has given $10 million to help restore President Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home and underwrote renovations to the historic Washington Monument. Yet Rubenstein’s most noteworthy initiative is the whopping $23 million to acquire a rare copy of the Magna Carta, ensuring it remained in the United States. After its purchase, Rubenstein gifted it to the National Archives.
Not everyone has Rubenstein’s vast resources. But every organization and any individual can make their own impact.
In the workplace, for example, organizations that give back elevate their status perception-wise among competitors and peers. It doesn’t take much. But by being a company that cares, prospective employees want to work for you. For your existing team, deliberate and well-organized corporate philanthropy programs quickly take on a life of their own, becoming a rallying point.
Think strategically and get started by finding your cause. We all have them. They exist at our very core, forming the belief system we live by every day. So why shouldn’t our philanthropy follow that same course? Consider aligning your giving or volunteerism with something you personally believe in or care about; something that fits with what your company does or something that is close to your employees’ hearts.
Most important, get involved and just make a difference. It really comes down to that. One initiative that has always impressed me has been the annual CreateAthon event undertaken by WhiteSpace Creative, a member of the Pillar Award class of 2005. You can read a first-hand account of this year’s program here.
Being a good corporate citizen goes well beyond making good business sense. When you align yourself with causes you care about, whether big or small, you make a difference in someone’s life. And the bottom line is this: It is all of our duties to get involved. It’s no longer a question of if, but rather of what, when and how. ●
Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7026.
A long-range plan recently adopted by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Focus on the Future, includes strategies and tactics that culminate in a single goal to increase the value members receive from their Ohio Chamber investment.
The thoughts, opinions and ideas of Ohio Chamber members are incorporated into Focus on the Future through the use of surveys and focus groups. Over the years, members have urged us to continue our focus on these areas: 1) advocating for Ohio businesses, 2) educating members on legislative and regulatory issues and 3) taking a proactive approach to political involvement.
These three member-directed priorities, supported by the chamber’s mission, vision and primary goal of increasing member value, are the backbone of Focus on the Future. As this long-range plan is implemented over the next five years, Ohio Chamber members will experience an organization with the following:
- A renewed sense of excitement and purpose.
- Greater firepower and resources to advocate for its members.
- An advanced technology platform to support better communications.
- Higher quality programs, services and events.
- A headquarters facility that meets the needs of its members and staff while appropriately reflecting the status of Ohio’s premier business organization.
The commitment and support of our members is not taken lightly. In return, we are committed to making their membership experience a high-quality one that gives back in a meaningful way. We look forward to implementing Focus on the Future, a plan for strengthening the Ohio Chamber for tomorrow and beyond. Here’s a brief description of the plan’s major initiatives:
A powerful force on Capital Square
Building on its strong reputation the Ohio Chamber will become an even more formidable force on Capital Square. New media strategies will help improve communication with members, government officials and the public.
In addition, new committee processes, grass root and key-influencer programs will be used to help make member participation easier and more effective.
A leader on economic and business research
As our states premiere business resource and advocate, the Ohio Chamber will increase its investments in producing solid economic information that is helpful to Ohio businesses and research that informs the public policy process.
A successful communicator
The Ohio Chamber’s multi-platform approach to communicating with our members will be enhanced by expanding social media strategies and updating our website.
Defining the chamber’s brand and improving our ability to implement public relations strategies will help build our name and image in every corner of the state.
A champion of quality membership experiences
Making sure members have a valuable and quality experience will continue to be a top priority. The number of chamber members will be increased, and even more importantly, the number of members who make a substantial investment in the work of the Ohio Chamber, our “Chamber Champions,” will be doubled over the next five years.
A sponsor of cost-effective programs, services and events
High-quality, cost-effective programs that help Ohio businesses save money will be offered and marketed statewide.
Additionally, opportunities to learn about key legislative and regulatory changes, attend events featuring business and government leaders, and network with policymakers and business colleagues will be offered in ways that facilitate effective participation.
A hub for business activity
Ohio Chamber members have access to our headquarters in downtown Columbus for chamber-sponsored events and activities, as well as member-initiated meetings.
New initiatives will help ensure ease of access to those opportunities and a physical infrastructure that supports the quality and quantity of member needs. ●
Linda Woggon is executive vice president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As Ohio’s largest and most diverse statewide business advocacy group, the Ohio Chamber has been an effective voice for business since 1893. To contact the Ohio Chamber, call (614) 228-4201 or visit www.ohiochamber.com.
Despite the underlying premise that United States manufacturing is a dead or dying business, manufacturing here in the states is alive, well and actually on the incline.
“The U.S. is fast becoming one of the lowest-cost countries for manufacturing in the developed world,” says CNBC, citing the Boston Consulting Group. BCG found that the average manufacturing costs in Germany, Japan, France, Italy and the United Kingdom will be 8 to 18 percent higher than the U.S. by 2015. So is manufacturing dead? On the contrary, it is increasing.
Watch for hurdles to overcome
In our soon-to-be-published book, “Maximizing Profits Immediately: How to Dramatically Improve your Company’s Bottom Line,” we continue the program started by Harry E. Figgie that helps manufacturing companies compete more effectively. Many people believe that the U.S. cannot compete in a global environment. This is simply not true; however, manufacturing does have some distinct hurdles:
There is no question that the manufacturing sector does not dominate the U.S. economy. In the past 60 years, the U.S. employment in manufacturing has wavered from 50 to 10 percent. If you measure this by the gross domestic product, the manufacturing share of the economy has fallen by 25 percent in the 1950s to 11 percent today.
While there is a profound shift, the collapse that we are so-called witnessing is simply a hangover from the earlier 2000s, when the number of workers declined from 17.3 million to 13.5 million. More than 4 million jobs were lost in manufacturing from the U.S. not being competitive and outsourcing. Since 2003 this has stabilized at low levels, and in the last several years manufacturing employment has actually risen for the first time since the late 1990s.
Manufacturing is moving forward, growing, thriving, competing and doing well. U.S. manufacturing still accounts for 50 billion exports every month. If you measure manufacturing on a stand-alone basis, it is still the eighth largest economy in the world. One in every six private sector jobs is in manufacturing.
An edge on global competition
Today, the manufacturing sector employs 12 million people or 9 percent of the total workforce. It also accounts for 6.6 million jobs in other sectors, including accounting, wholesaling, shipping and more. For $1 in manufacturing in manufactured sales, that final sale supports $1.37 in other areas of the economy, larger than any other economic multiplier.
Recent headlines highlight General Electric Co., Apple Inc. and other companies reporting that manufacturing is back in the U.S. They are employing better, faster and more economic processes than global competition, leading to increased productivity.
It is widely reported that the labor transportation and energy costs in China have made offshore manufacturing more expensive. The Hackett Group reports that the gap between manufacturing in the U.S. and China has shrunk by nearly 50 percent in the last few years and likely will be less than 13 percent in 2013.
With our ability to be nimble and creative, U.S. manufacturing is becoming more profitable. We are focusing on better design, better performance, safety and a superior product. Most importantly, we are offering a superior life cycle of a product — better than you can get anywhere else in the world.
With rising costs in China, the movement now is to eliminate sweatshops, push out the foreign competition and develop superior and lasting products. With that, the U.S. promises to continue its movement to keep manufacturing and jobs plentiful here at home. ●
Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in over 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate co-chairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.
Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.
Consider this business scenario: You’ve landed a big account for your company by converting a highly prized prospect into a valuable client. The new client has hired you to handle a specific scope of work and is counting on your team’s ability to deliver work that goes above and beyond.
While nothing is more important than delivering great customer service to satisfy the client, you may not realize that you’re probably overlooking unrealized opportunities to forge a stronger relationship with your customer.
In today’s business landscape, most large companies offer an array of products and services. More often than not, however, your clients use you for a specific service or skill set. And unfortunately, in this scenario, most companies focus solely on the task at hand — delivering what they’ve been contracted to deliver — failing to take ample time to think about the bond they’re creating with the client and what could be next.
In more simple terms, it is one thing to provide service that keeps a customer; it is another to keep that customer and expand the relationship to become a trusted partner.
Provide value in a deliberate way
The good news is that this is an easy fix. Establish a content marketing program that allows you to distribute thought leadership to your clients.
A content marketing program will help you provide value that other service providers may not, and when clients see you as an informational resource and partner, it will be easier to expand the relationship.
Take this example into consideration: You are an insurance provider and your main product is life insurance, therefore most of the communication you have with your clients surrounds that topic.
With a comprehensive content marketing program in place, however, you can educate your clients on the recent trends in the insurance industry and how that affects the individual. At the same time, you can give them an overview of your company’s wellness program and let them know that if they joined, they could reduce their monthly premiums.
As you can see, you’re not just providing your client with the original service, you’re also providing them with both your thought leadership — aka value — and additional offerings.
Personal connections payoff
Aside from providing value to the client with the content you distribute, a strong content marketing program allows you to showcase your brand’s personality. Clients will be able to connect with your brand on a more personal level.
Providing continually updated content through the right channels to the right clients enhances your day-to-day communications. Clients start seeing you as thought leaders and partners instead of just service providers.
It will help you expand relationships and, as a result, generate new business through more products and services.
Show them more than just what they see on the surface — show them how active you are in the community, or how much fun you had during a recent company outing. If may sound trivial, but your clients do similar things, and seeing you connect with the community and/or employees will help forge a more personal connection. You never know; you and your client may support the same charity, organization or team.
Open communication also will help strengthen relationships to the point where you can capture a premium price and eliminate price-jumping clients. Clients will pay more for a valuable relationship than simply look to get the lowest price elsewhere. ●
David Fazekas is vice president of marketing services for SBN Interactive. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (440) 250-7056.
You would think someone like Douglas Merrill would be a heavy multitasker, with multiple devices in hand, fielding several conversations — both real and virtual — simultaneously.
But you would be wrong.
Merrill, who was the CIO at Google until 2008, doesn’t like to multitask. He says that when you do it, you aren’t using your brain’s full capacity and aren’t as effective. He recommends focusing on one thing at a time.
Billionaire Mark Cuban has his own time management strategy. Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, says you should completely avoid meetings unless you are closing a deal. Otherwise, he says, they are a waste of time.
Both of these proven leaders have learned that how you manage your time is paramount to your effectiveness.
As a CEO, you are swamped every day with calls and emails from people wanting a piece of your time. Some are internal, some are charity requests, some are from friends or family members and others are from service providers.
To help wade through this sea of information, it’s important to have a system in place to help you free up time to think about your business and the things that matter most in life. These open times are what author Richard Swenson refers to as “margin.” They are the spaces between ourselves and our limits that are reserved for emergencies.
But for many business leaders, there are no spaces left.
The way out of this trap is to set clear goals and values for yourself and your organization. Once you do that, you will have a filter through which to evaluate everything. Everything will have an immediate yes or no answer, eliminating the “let me think about it” category completely.
The key is to establish what your goals are first and then prioritize what is important. With your priorities straight, you will find more time to put toward important things on your goals list, but don’t forget to leave time on your daily schedule. There is no way to foresee all emergencies, so by leaving yourself some margin, when something unexpected happens, you already have time built in to deal with it.
Once you have margin built into your life, you have to have the discipline to stick to it. There will always be the temptation to take every meeting or answer every email. But if you use your goals and priorities as a filter, those requests are easily either accepted or declined based on where they fall on your priority list.
If you want a life where you can experience more peace and joy and less anxiety, start looking at your priorities and establish some margin in your daily schedule. ●