How To Read More

Readers are leaders and leaders are readers. But how in the world do you find the time? Fortunately for us we live in the most cutting edge era for reading more. The economics of book publishing are changing rapidly and the landscape is no longer what it used to be. For the first time ever we have books in electronic, print, and audio formats. It has never been easier for you to read more often.

How To Read More

Running a company, raising a one year old, leading a small group, maintaining a blog, and still finding time to be, what I hope is an adequate husband, is a very time consuming job for me. The reality is that this is who I am and I struggle daily to find time to read. This recently came to a headway and I decided that I must figure out a way to do it all and still read.  This is when I realized that it is easier to read more now than it has ever been before.

Ebooks – Download the e-version of the book. Typically this price is cheaper than the hard cover. It is also more mobile. Downloading a book in iBooks allows the opportunity to read it on an iPad, iPhone, e-reader, or even a desktop computer.

Syncing – With e-books you can add multiple bookmarks while you read. This is an easy way to transition between various mediums. Placing a bookmark when you finish reading on your iPad allows you to easily pick up where you left off on your iPhone later. In fact, I just referenced Timothy Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body on my iPhone while I was in the grocery store. Using a bookmark, I was able to easily find the information I needed.

Audio – John C. Maxwell recently commented during his A Day About Books Lecture that he never knew a car stereo could play music. All he ever used it for was listening to Leadership CDs. John was a subscriber of CD clubs. But again, that industry has changed dramatically. It is easier now than ever to read your books while you drive. Enter Audible.com

Audible.com – Amazon runs this service. They also have an app for the iPhone. It is easier now than ever to download the audio version of the books you are reading. While the audio version seems to take twice as long to complete, you can get in an hour or so of reading your books while commuting around town. Personally, my phone syncs up with my stereo in my truck via bluetooth. Very rarely am I driving without listening to an audio book. It is just so easy to do now. What’s more, I can add bookmarks to my audio book so I can sync my place in an audio book with the ebook so I can always pickup where I left off.

Workout – Do you workout? Cardio is the ideal time to listen to audio books. Listening to a book gets you into a good groove. More often than not, I find myself hung on a chapter and I just want to finish. Next thing you know I have exceeded my initial time goal. For instance, I may want to jog for 30 minutes, but the chapter doesn’t end until 40 minutes. I guess I’m running for 40 minutes.

Syncing today’s technologies into your reading initiative can help you maximize your amount of reading. You can finish books in record time and with ease never before seen. People are busier than ever these days but also have the Incredible advantage of ease of use when it comes to reading.

Question: How do you find time to read? Have you ever studied speed reading?

 

The Importance of Good Communication

A leader’s ability to communicate with his or her team is likely one of the top characteristics of a good leader. But often we find ourselves swallowed up by our to-do list. You may not mean to hide in our office  all day, but at the end of the week you look back on your accomplishments and realize, communicating with your team wasn’t one of them.

Autocratic leadership

Recently, I was on our corporate plane riding with a few of our upper level managers. I had brought along my iPad and expected to get some focused writing done for my blog. I soon realized that I had planned to do one of the worst leadership mistakes I could make. I had essentially planned to neglect my team and neglect a fantastic opportunity to connect with some key employees.

As we passed the hour and a half ride, isolated from the world, we conversed about life, business, and all sorts of good things. As our relationships grew, one employee told a story that really hit home for me. A former boss of his had been preaching to him and making sure he and the other employees knew who the boss was (a poor way to earn their loyalty). My employee wanted to make a point and asked his former boss “so if you’re really the boss, what did I do last week, what am I doing this week, and what am I doing next week?” The boss couldn’t answer.

Communication with your employees and your team is one of the most vital acts you can do as a leader. Remember these 4 keys to opening the lines of communication.

Who’s The Boss – If you need to sit your team down and tell them that you are the boss, you have already failed. Do you know what each member on your team did last week, this week, and will do next week? Every week you need to be finding this out.

It’s Your Job To Talk – We are taught in school not to talk. We are taught growing up to shut our mouths and get to work. Often, this is how we have reached our level of leadership, by putting our nose to the grind stone and working hard. Now that you are a leader, however, it is your job to go speak with your team. You have to move past the feeling that you are being lazy by talking and realize that it is your duty to communicate with your team.

Delegate – Many leaders are too busy to go speak with their team and thus, rely on emails and quick conversations in the hall, to communicate with their team members. This is neither effective for communicating or building relationships. If you are too busy as a leader to communicate effectively with your team, you are too busy to be a leader. The leader is not always the doer. Delegate tasks to your team, that is what they are there for.

Schedule Time – If you are having trouble finding the time to sit down and speak with your team, schedule it. Scheduling a lunch or a quick meeting guarantees that it will happen. I personally have time blocks on my Ideal Week Schedule set aside specifically for communicating with my team. Protecting this time, and scheduling it in advance, guarantees that no matter how busy I am, I still have time for my team.

Most leaders are hard workers who follow a very tight agenda every day. They pack in the accomplishments all day long. But be careful of how many tasks you try to accomplish. If you’re just isolated to your office all day, you are failing your team and will soon fail as a leader. Communicating with your team and knowing what they are doing at all times is one of the most important things you can be doing.

 

Question: What is the biggest thing that keeps you in your office every day?

Optimize Your Twitter Exposure With Tweriod

If you have been blogging or publishing online for any length of time you understand how important marketing with Twitter can be for you. Just recently I had a post “go viral” to a small extent and increase my blog’s traffic nearly five-fold. Increasing my exposure on Twitter via Tweriod was part of the reason.

Auto Tweet your blog posts

I was disappointed when I opened my Buffer app and looked at my analytics. Of the nearly 100 tweets I had sent out recently, only a handful had received any clicks. What was the point of tweeting if I wasn’t generating any buzz?

I soon found out the problem. I was tweeting at times when nearly none of my followers were on Twitter! This is like running a TV commercial at 4am instead of 7pm.

Bloggers have long been using Twitter to promote their writing. Only recently have we had the technology to maximize our exposure in ways never seen before. By combining a few apps on the web, you can create the perfect concoction for reach, exposure, and clicks. Here is how you can use Tweriod to optimize your exposure on Twitter.

Tweriod – What is it? Tweriod is a service that will run an analytical report on your Twitter account. What do you get? A report that tells you when most of your followers are using Twitter. It also breaks their usage down by day, and then, presents it to you in an hourly graph. For instance, my Tweets will receive the most exposure on Sunday if I publish them between 2pm and 3pm or 6pm and 9pm.

Buffer App – Now that you know when to tweet, are you expected to drop everything at 2pm every Sunday and start tweeting? Absolutely not! This is where Buffer App comes in. With Buffer App you can schedule your tweets down to the minute for each day. Thus guaranteeing that you are Tweeting at the exact, right moment in time for maximizing your exposure. Now, what to Tweet?

Enter Mr. Reader – Mr. Reader is the app I use on my iPad. It works with Google Reader to gather all the latest information on the web and present it in a very clean and manageable format. The real magic, however, lies in Mr. Reader’s ability to sync with your Buffer App. When you read an article you think your followers would be interested in, you are only one click away from adding it to Buffer to be published during your peak times.

Social Oomph – Social Oomph is much like Buffer App but best used to repeatedly tweet great content from your site. Did you miss my post on Climbing the Ladder? Don’t worry, Social Oomph will publish it on my Twitter soon, during my peak exposure times of course.

Retweetable Headlines – Another key to getting your Tweets to “go viral” is an enticing headline. I don’t claim to be the best at this but using the book Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich can help you write interesting tweets that generate click throughs and bring traffic to your.

All in all, using these services and techniques, my click throughs on tweets have increased nearly 500% in the last month. My recent post on Twitter Auto-Pilot may also help you learn to manage your Twitter in a nearly hands free manner.

 

Question: What was your best Tweet?

 

The Power of a Goal

How does a young man who just got fired, turn his life upside down and become one of the greatest coaches in the world? The answer: One Goal At A Time. One day Lou Holtz sat down and wrote out all the goals he wanted to achieve in his lifetime. To date, he has achived 95 of his original 107 life goals.

power of a goal

What is far more important about achieving a goal is what you are rewarded with just by attempting to achieve it. A goal is not so much about getting something done as it is about the journey. The real reward of setting and achieving a goal is what you learn in the process.

I wrote a post the other day about “SMART goals” and gave a few smart goals examples. Setting and attaining the goals you set for yourself, no doubt, will make you a successful person. Lou Holtz has long bee regarded as a great leader and very successful person, but, the secret sauce to his success lies in the journey of trying to acheive a goal.

Discipline – Achieving a goal requires an exercise in discipline. For every goal you achieve, you have learned a lesson in the ability to maintain a certain level of discipline over a length of time.

Humility – Every goal you set out to achieve will teach you that it is easier said than done. I want to “lose 12 pounds in 3 months” is pretty easy to say, but extreamly difficult to achieve. You’ll start out with a full head of steam but in order to actually achieve the goal, you’re going to go through a stage of humility as you realize just how hard it is.

A Story – Every goal will leave you with a story. Every goal you go after will have its trials and its triumphs. A goal gives you something to work toward every single day. When you finally reach that goal you’ll look back on the story you have written with great enjoyment.

Rewards – When you have a goal, each day can be a success or a failure. Breaking it down like this into daily battles keeps the goal small in perspective. It also allows you the opportunity to enjoy the journey more by living for a win every single day.

Successfull Failures – A goal that takes time to achieve is hard to finally reach. But the good news about goals is that, even when you fail to reach them, you have not failed completelty. Let’s say your goal was to lose 12 pounds in 3 months. At the end of 3 months you may have only lost 6 lbs. You didn’t reach your goal but you still enriched your life.

Will Smith, the famous actor and musician, tells a story of laying a brick wall that I feel relates to setting and achieving a goal. He says “you don’t set out to build the perfect wall, you set out to lay one brick perfectly. You do this over and over again, and pretty soon, you have built a perfect wall.”

 

Question: What goals have you accomplished and how was the journey?

How SMART Goals Lead To Success

One of the greatest things I ever learned in college was Smart Goals.  My professor taught us the acronym, then shared several smart goals examples. Setting the correct types of goals is essential to getting things done and achieving success as a leader.

Smart Goals Examples

I have heard before, that the day Bill Clinton graduated from Yale Law School, he carried a small peice of paper in his wallet. On this paper was a list of goals. On that list, “become President of the United States.” While this isn’t a great SMART goals example, it is a great example of the power of goals and why you need to set them.

The problem with President Clinton’s goal is that, for someone other than himself, it may have been unrealistic or unattainable. Either way, it was not held down with time constraint, which is essential to SMART goals. So what is a smart goals example? I’ll show you.

“Lose 12 pounds of fat, 3 months from today.”

Lets examine how this is a smart goal:

Specific – Goals must be very specific in order for you to maintain focus. Instead of just “lose weight” try “lose 12 pounds.” Putting in a specific number gives us a beginning and an end. It tells us where we start and what will mean success.

Measurable – You must be able to track and measure your results. You should always be able to identify your progress. For example, I can measure 12 pounds of fat, and if I’ve lost 6 pounds, I know that I am half way to my goal.

Attainable – It should go without saying but you must be able to lose 12 pounds if that is your goal. Therefore, you must actually have 12 pound of fat on your body that you can afford to lose and still be healthy.  Another example may be becoming President of the United States of America, well you have to be a US citizen first.

Realistic – A smart goal must be something you can actually do. See this example of Xerox sales people. Their goals were realistic, and as such, they achieved them. In our smart goal example can a person really lose 12 pounds in 3 months? Yes, the average person can lose 2 pounds per week. Since we’ll have 12 weeks we only need to lose a pound per week. This smart goal is very realistic.

Timely – When you don’t set a time requirement, you’re basically saying you just want to achieve it before you die. What is the motivation to lose 12 pounds before you die? Giving your smart goal a realistic time-frame gives you perspecttive and keeps you motivated.

Creating your next set of goals using the “SMART goals” acronym, and our smart goals example, will give you the best odds of achieving success. Remember what smart stands for and always apply it to your goals for a leg up on the competition. Good Luck!

Question: Write a SMART goal of yours in the comments below!

 

What The Fourth of July Really Means

The Fourth day of July, 1776.  Our Independence Day.  The Fourth of July means a lot of things for me.  It means baseball, grilling outside, flags, green grass, music, friends, family, and of course fireworks.  But the Fourth of July means a significant amount more, not only to the United States of America, but to the world as a whole.

fourth of july

The Fourth of July set the course for a nation that would one day step to the plate as the leader of the free world.  How do we know that The United States of America is the leader?  The world’s foremost traded commodity, crude oil, is still traded in our home currency.  So what does the Fourth of July really mean to us and the world?

Freedom – America fought for the idea that a free country could sustain longer and more prosperously than a country under the rule of a foreign office.  Because of this deeply held value, we have sought and encouraged freedom across the globe.

National Service – Our nation’s leaders are servants to the collective.  Their authority is earned and given by those who choose to follow them.  This authority is divided and shared from small community government all the way to Washington DC where authority is still divided and shared among the collective.

World Service – America’s status as the world leader is not a position granted to us by our own will.  Our authority on the world stage is one of service to our fellow man across the globe.  We feel a duty to others beyond our borders and have accepted a servant’s role to those around the world.

Earned Power – No one is born into power in this country.  Because of the events that we celebrate on the Fourth of July, power must be earned by all who wish to receive it.   There are no monarchs, no dictators, no class favoritism.  No person in this country is given power without first earning it.

Opportunity – The American Dream has long been attainable because of the opportunities we possess in this country.  The opportunity to work hard and earn anything your heart could desire is the foundation for opportunity in America.  People have long crossed boarders and oceans to seek such unheard of opportunity in our country.

Free Enterprise – The Fourth of July represents freedom even within business.  Every person in our nation has before them free entry into enterprise.  We all have the opportunity to do what we want, and to prosper from our labors.

Giving Spirit – The Unites States of America did not turn its back on the world when we received our independence on the Fourth of July.  Instead, the United States of America has given back more to the world than any other country.  In the depths of our recession, in 2010, Americans still gave $291 billion in charitable gifts, ranking us the most charitable nation in the world.

The Fourth of July is a great time of peace, family, and brotherly love.  But it was bought with a great price.  Since 1775 there have been 2,489,335 service members killed or wounded protecting our freedom and purchasing this great nation with their lives.  Today we celebrate their lives, their service, and the continued pursuit of freedom across the world.

 

Question:  What is your favorite thing about the Fourth of July?

A Word About Employee Encouragement

What I just did felt so great! It wasn’t about me, it was about employee. It was about encouragement and it worked like a charm. Every leadership conference you have ever attended has preached to you about employee encouragement and the incredible impact it can make. Many leaders however, have a hard time finding the opportunity and the creative means by which to encourage employees.

About Employee

I’ll share with you a story about employee encouragement that recently happened here at Allied Equipment. Our leaders on the production floor have the ability to purchase small consumables that are needed in the shop for the day to day operations of our production floor. Typically, these items are ordered over the phone or scratched on a pad in such a way that our accounting team often has a hard time deciphering what was purchased, by whom, and how much it cost. I walked into the payable’s department the other day and noticed some very nice looking PO forms that had been submitted by one such employee.

Upon further investigation I realized this employee had taken it upon himself to create a form, so that the staff could easily identify items he had purchased. I just had to call him into my office and thank him for taking the time and caring effort to make such a document to help out laterally within the company.  Here is how I offer encouragement and made it about employee, not me.

Pay Attention – Keep an eye out for the good news. Make an effort to think about employee and not about yourself. Look at things in terms of how good the employee did, not about how their work helps or effects you.

Formal and Personal – While a slap on the back will go a long way, a formal show of appreciation will encourage an employee for much longer. Call them into your office. Get out from behind your desk. Again, make the meeting about employee, not about yourself.

Give Examples – Show them what the norm is around the office so they understand how they went above and beyond. Until they understand what the benchmark is, they won’t know how to rise above it. Once you have shown them where the bar is set, and offer encouragement, they’ll know how to over achieve again.

Explain – Tell them in detail what you liked about their work so they understand what they did that was so great. This further makes it about employee first. Getting specific will encourage them to focus on those things which were pleasing to you on future projects.

Respect – Tell them point blank that you respect them and value their work! In order to properly encourage them, they need to hear it directly from you. Look them in the eye and make sure they understand that they are respected and valued.

I See You – End the conversation by letting them know that you see their hard work and effort. This lets them know that even when you don’t say anything, you’re still watching them and paying attention. It also encourages them to work hard all the time.

The most important thing about employee encouragement is authenticity. Being genuine with a person and honestly sharing with them your appreciate will ignite a fire deep inside their soul. Many leaders are nervous about saying kind things to their employees. Kindness from a leader is as essential to a follower as oxygen is to all living things. So don’t be afraid, be excited to offer encouragement for a job well done.

Questions: What are some things you’ve caught your employees, or family, doing right?