Share the Stage with Confidence

Bill H., a founder of a nutrition startup, asks, “How can I get more comfortable speaking in front of groups, investors mostly? I have my top sales guy do all the talking, but apparently it’s starting to look odd that I don’t “share the stage” with him at these presentations. If I lost him, I’d be in big trouble. What to do?”

This is a common concern for many founders wanting to project strong leadership. I define public speaking as any kind of speaking you do with the public: phone calls, 1:1 or small group conversations. Chances are you could not have gotten this far if you had trouble on the phone or in small group conversation. Keep in mind — listeners really care about the substance of what you have to offer, not how slick a presenter you are. They want to make money, period. It’s true that investors like to work with confident and energetic people, but that is secondary to their main interest.

To take action, I suggest you identify where your discomfort in public speaking breaks down and work to refine that level. This is where a communication coach comes in handy. Are you generally anxious, unprepared, unsure of your content, a poor listener, vocally weak or disfluent, etc. at the small group conversation level?  If so, getting some guidance managing those aspects would be a good starting point. Then, consider polishing up one segment of the larger group presentation that you are most comfortable with. This way you can start “sharing the stage” with your sales guy in a small way. With practice and an understanding of what your audience really cares about, you’ll be able to take over more of the presentation in time.

Need more help with public speaking or presentation skills? I’m happy to help you. Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com

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Managing Your Time: Hey Big Spender! Part 3 of 3

In my previous blog on Managing Your Time, I urged you to look at “time” as you do “money.” I invited you to assign a dollar amount to each work task in your day. By the end of the day, ideally, if you did everything on the list, you’d figuratively earn a day’s pay. If you slacked off instead, it would reflect in your bottom line. In this blog I’m suggesting you think of every minute of your workday as a dollar. Periodically throughout the day, ask yourself: Am I wasting or saving time right now?

Time is more precious than money. There are many similarities: they are limited, have value, and are measurable. If you viewed your time this way, you might be shocked to see how much better you are with your money than you are with your time. The difference between the two is that you can earn money back, but not time.

Consider viewing time spent playing video games, surfing social media, consenting to interruptions, and worrying as “throwing time” out the window. If you “throw out” an average of four hours a day ( 240 minutes) with every minute at $1, it’s $240 lost a day, x 7 days is $1680 a week out the window! Would you throw $1680 out the window every week? Hell, no! If you’re conservative with money, thinking of “time as money” is a great way to think twice before you act.

Need some extraordinary ways to manage time? Let me know. Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com

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Managing Your Time: What is Your Day Worth? Part 2 of 3

If money drives you, think about placing a dollar amount on your day equal to the effort and efficiency you put forth. This is one of my clients’ favorite strategies for enhancing productivity and assessing their performance at day’s end.

For example, imagine a day where you put forth your 100% personal best. What dollar amount might you tag to a day like that? $1000, $5000, $10,000? Let’s say $5000.  A $5000 day  assumes that every task on your list gets done, done well and delivered. The next step is to assign, according to the time needed per task, complexity and priority, a dollar amount where the maximum total for the day = $5000. For example:

  • refining a clear description of your business model = $500
  • making 5 cold calls to prospects = $1000
  • clearing your desk and planning your schedule for the next day = $1000
  • sending out the three proposals you’ve been putting off = $2500

Therefore, accomplishing all these tasks would earn you your max for the day ($5000). Consider attaching greater dollar amounts to the most undesirable, but essential tasks on your list.

At day’s end ask yourself : What did I pay myself today? What did I earn? $500, $2000? $4500? Where did I jip myself and how can make more tomorrow?  You can also use a self-rating scale from 1 (total slacking) to 10 (personal best) and resolve the next day to beat the previous day’s rating. If you easily made your quota, perhaps your allotments per task are too generous, or you can fit more into your day and pay yourself more.

Let me know how this works for you! Need help being productive in not so ordinary ways? Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com.   

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Managing Your Time: “Do the Most Good Possible” (Part 1 of 3)

Planning the next day’s activities with inspiration as your guide helps you make better choices with your time. In the next two blog posts, I will share ways of enhancing your performance in more mindful and meaningful ways. These approaches yield improved mental health, satisfaction and productivity for my busy clients. Today’s blog is about planning. No plan or a murky one = wasted time and focus.

Tonight before bed do two things: 1) Ask yourself, “How can I make the most of tomorrow?”  2) Create a specific plan for the next day. Consider the inspiring quote from psychologist Jordan B. Peterson’s best seller The 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos “(Do) the most good possible in the shortest period of time.” So whenever someone tells you “Have a good day,” it’ll take on special meaning.

Planning with the Peterson quote in mind prioritizes the next day’s activities. For each activity list specific points or a breakdown of steps for each. This step will help you estimate the block of time needed for each activity. Use an week-at-a-glance hourly calendar and carve out a reasonable block of time needed for each activity; include any travel or transition time.

You’ll sleep better knowing that you’ve a plan for tomorrow. This way, when you get up, there’s no second-guessing or futzin’ around. Jump right into the day’s pre-set plan.

Here’s an example of how I do the most good possible in the shortest period of time:

6:00-7:00a.m.: yoga warm up=10m (minutes), squats, biceps/pull-ups= 5m, bike intervals= 30m, mat sequence =10m, cool down =5m. I’m psyched and my energy is blazing – that’s good!

7:00-8:30a.m.:  clean up, breakfast, review calendar, quick check emails/ texts, light chores.  Good to go!

8:30-11:30a.m.: Writing. Ch. 2 review, + 2 new sources, + client story, edit Chapter 3, etc. Good work that will eventually help readers do good!

Client sessions fill the remaining blocks of my working day. For you, it may be meetings or important conversations. Either way, just like the above examples, each block should have a series of points or steps specific to that task. This keeps you on track time-wise. Being organized and prepared in this way helps make these conversations timely and productive, which is good for all parties.

Circumstances may shift things a bit, but I pretty much stick to the plan. At the end of the day, I set aside a few minutes to drop a client an encouraging message, well-deserved kudos or a helpful suggestion. That’s adding just a little more good to someone’s day. I’ll be good to myself and set up some reward time for a day well lived – a walk in the woods, piano practice, or a game of table tennis.

A good day starts with planning – a CORE element essential for better focus and follow through. Let me help you build COREage for your goals. Contact me at Rebecca@mindfulcommunication.com  

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Overwhelmed and Under-delegating?

As a leader, delegation is an essential skill for maximizing productivity and managing stress when workloads are large and deadlines are tight. The problem is, many entrepreneurs wait too long to entrust others. This is often where “delegating” gets its bad name.  When you are stressed out you are likely to delegate poorly. Here are a few ways to pass along tasks with greater success:

  1. Start letting go. Create a list of tasks that rank from “can’t/won’t let go” and “can let go.” Get comfortable with passing along the latter list – the routine, low risk tasks that eat up hunks of your valuable time. Eventually, this move will free up time to train others to take on some tasks from the former list, so you can focus on what you do best.
  2. Think about delegation when hiring. Don’t wait for disaster to strike. When you interview candidates it’s good to choose a few players who are fast learners and flexible within a job description. Know each individual’s strengths, weaknesses and range of skills.
  3. Be specific with your instructions. A most common delegating mistake is assuming your “delegatee” understands the task and the outcome. Make the instructions as simple and clear as possible. Some people do better with written vs. oral instructions. Show an example of the ideal outcome. Be clear about deadlines. Avoid having to hover and re-do tasks because of mindless communication.
  4. Hire a competent student. If money is tight, advertise for a “Girl or Boy Friday.” These persons can be low cost interns who just want to shadow or hang around a startup. They are often quite capable (see #3) to take on personal, household and low priority workplace tasks that can save you an immense amount of time.

Delegating is not easy, but often necessary. Think of your time and energy as valuable commodities. From a cost savings perspective (do the math!) it’s cheaper to pay someone less to do a job that costs you more.

Having trouble letting go and getting things done well and on time? Perhaps some Core Four Coaching is in your future. Contact me at Rebecca@mindfulcommunication.com

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Worry Wisdom

Among the many attributes associated with entrepreneurs, the tendency to worry is high on the list. Worriers, like entrepreneurs tend to be conscientious, ambitious, competitive, and always on the lookout for opportunity. These positive traits may also associated with problematic characteristics that can endanger one’s ability to lead effectively: hyper-controlling, trouble relaxing and having fun, easily bored, obsessive and, in some cases, paranoid. Furthermore, my clients who endorse chronic worry often have trouble sleeping. In an earlier blog, I mentioned how one’s executive functioning (the ability to get work done, done well and on time) can be compromised without consistent, good quality sleep. A person with a strong cognitive core has constructive ways to manage worry. Here are some ways my clients have found most successful:

1) Choose a time of day (not when you get into bed!) to make a plan(s) for solving the problem(s). Put your plan in writing. Review it when worry creeps in. Worry cowers in the face of a plan.

2) In a non-worry state, create a drop down menu in your mind of other thoughts to shift to when worry sets in. It’s too late to compose this menu in the midst of worry. Your menu can include: a great vacation you had, an inspirational article or a lecture, a favorite song you can replay in your mind, the many things you have to be grateful for, etc. Just about anything that is unrelated to your worry should be on the list. It’s important to be able to shift to other thoughts and maintain perspective.

3) Think about how little worry has paid off in the past. How many hours, dollars and days could have been put to better use if you had managed your worry?

4) Share your worries with others. Speaking aloud to a mindful listener helps you separate facts from fiction, be creative, share solutions and derive a plan.

5) Finally, meditate on a quote by Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD 65) a Roman Stoic philosopher, “There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”

What solutions to worry have you? I’d love to hear them! Share your ideas with me at Rebecca@mindfulcommunication.com

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Your Values Run the Show

Before you can lead others – establish a mission statement, focus, direct and guide others to bring a product or service successfully to market – you need to clarify your core convictions, your values. The way you lead or run your business is an extension of how you personally conduct yourself on a day-to-day basis. Your values indicate what is important to you.

Your core values guide the behavior and the decision-making of your workforce. Whatever values you play out in your life, good or bad, will influence the behavior of your family members, your employees and the outcome of your enterprise. Your team(s) looks to you as the model for the values you espouse. As a leader, you need to show consistently what those “values” talk and walk like.  When the walk doesn’t match the talk, when core values are inconsistent, they become the source of mistrust, cynicism, and low performance at home and at work.

Values are:

  • What drive your priorities in life
  • How you like to spend your time
  • What give you the most enjoyment and satisfaction
  • How you relate to others

Clarifying your values helps you understand yourself and why you  choose to act the way you do. Knowing your values provides focus and identifies characteristics you would like to develop, live and lead by. Take my Core Values exercise  and learn more about you, your family and your team.

CoreCoaching is all about capitalizing on your strengths and developing aspects of yourself you want to strengthen. Contact me at Rebecca@mindfulcommunication.com 

 

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Can You Handle the Truth? Accounting For Phone Time

Where does the time go? Why can’t I get more done each day? I want to finish my business plan, but other stuff gets in the way.

Do these complaints sound familiar? If you’re serious about improving your productivity and finding the waste in your day, being accountable for your phone time is a good place to start. Of all the distractions and interruptions we need to control for, smart phones and tablet use rates as Number One!

We typically underestimate the time spent on our phones. As an exercise I ask my clients to write on a slip of paper how many minutes or hours a day they think they spend on their phones and tablets. Their estimate is sealed in an envelope. Using one of the apps below they track the actual time spent on their phones for one week. After seven days their written estimates are unveiled. The estimates are often off by 50% or more! These apps can also tell you how many times you check your smartphone, what apps you use the most, reminders to take digital breaks and help you set limits on phone and table use. You all know that I’m not a big fan of GAGs (Gimmicks, Apps Gadgets) except for the ones that can keep us from over-using them! The truth can be liberating. If you care about productivity, the truth can also motivate you to make needed changes. Check out these links:

Moment – Screen Time Tracker

A Handy iOS Feature

Also read: Become aware of just how much your use your smartphone!

After the shocking reality hits home, you might take the next step and track your reasons for your excessive phone use. In subsequent blogs, I will address the most common reasons and their solutions.

I’m always happy to get your comments and requests for topics. Email me at rebecca@mindfulcommunication.com

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A New Solution for Anxiety: The Alpha-Stim

Perhaps the most common concern my entrepreneur clients report is anxiety and its cousin, insomnia. Founders have every reason to be anxious. In fact, if they are perfectly at ease with their startup, I get suspicious!  For those  new to  entrepreneurship there are constant battles between vision and reality, hope and doubt, deadlines and the worry of having no deadlines at all.  I encourage my entrepreneurs-at- risk to hold off on big, costly decisions until they get a handle on their anxiety. Control over anxiety means:

  • consistently good sleep
  • giving emotion a back seat when solving a problem
  • being able to re-frame mistakes and setbacks and move forward
  • the ability to inhibit impulsive actions and reactions.

Emotional control is one of the four core skills essential to healthy and successful entrepreneurship.

A review of the most helpful of anxiety-reducing activities include: meditation, yoga, exercise, visualization and  mindfulness training etc. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another fine option, but it requires regular sessions and practice. Others benefit from software tools like The Muse, Wild Divine, Heartmath and other kinds of biofeedback. The usual objections to these approaches include “not enough time,” or “the more I try to quiet my mind, the louder it gets.”

Let me tell you about another safe, effective, well-tested approach for anxiety, insomnia (and depression). It is a form of cranial-electrotherapy called Alpha-Stim. It is a user-friendly, handheld device the size of a cell phone. It requires no practice or effort by the user, and it can be used while doing most other activities except driving.

Moods and emotions are controlled through electro-chemical signals in your brain. When these signals aren’t functioning properly, the hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate your emotions can become unbalanced resulting in an anxious state.

The Alpha-Stim device generates a signal that produces a waveform conducive to calmness and a better state of mind − the Alpha frequency  (8-12 Hz). The Alpha-Stim has been very helpful with many of my clients. For those that notice no change with the Alpha-Stim, other approaches such medications or neurofeedback may be more helpful.

To learn more about the Alpha-Stim go to www.alpha-stim.com or email info@epii.com.

If you are local to the Boston MetroWest area, we offer a personalized Alpha-Stim demonstration and educational session at the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, Mass. If you’d like to make an appointment call 978 287 0810.

 

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Steer Clear of the Subtle Saboteurs

First thing in the morning, start out visualizing your most productive and satisfying day. What kind of day, from start to finish, would give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment?  If you can see it, then you know what to aim for. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve got your to-do list. But, in visualizing your perfect day, how will you tackle the more insidious distractions that could divert you?  Distractions aren’t all about noise and interruptions. If you haven’t addressed the obvious, then now is the time: shut the damn door, turn off the bleeping phone and tell people to leave you alone. If you’ve covered those bases, let’s address some of the sneakier distractions:

Unpreparedness reinforces your wanderlust:  If you set up a schedule the night before, which I highly recommend, all the pieces are in place. Your schedule should have THE TASKS and all the little sub-tasks listed below it for getting each TASK done. Then you can have a blast checking off each little sub-task as you complete it. Otherwise, if you just list the tasks, it’s like facing an inferno.

Dehydrated and de-nourished. Before you sit down to work, start off with a breakfast high in protein, good fats and plenty of water, especially if you suffer from anxiety and attention problems. Your brain is fat, protein keeps you sharp and water helps everything.

Unjustly rewarding yourself with gaming, FB time and other things you don’t deserve till you get the real work done. Newsflash: You have to earn your goodies− a good lesson to start teaching your kids now before electronics and endless fun screws up their brain circuitry for good.

Let me help you steer clear of the subtle saboteurs stealing from your success. Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com

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