8 Smart Things Super-Productive People Do Each Morning

Posted in Tips on 17 December 2014

The super producers know how to start their day and finish tasks, even before lunch. This sets the tone they need to stay productive all day.

Good productivity is a sign of smart thinking.

The people who achieve the most during the day typically have the smartest approach to their tasks, they have the right attitude, and they employ the best tricks. Here are a few ideas on how to jumpstart your day and get more work done by lunch.

1. Finish one task right away

Super-productive people complete one task right away in the morning to set the tone and demeanor for the day. It's a level set on attitude that says this is how your day will play out. It's a springboard, and orients your thinking. Even if it's a small task, bang it out.

2. Reward yourself for completing a task by lunch

I'm a big fan of personal rewards. Tell yourself you will head down to Caribou and get that triple espresso as a reward for working hard. Having that motivation dangling in front of you is a good way to knock out extra tasks. Just be sure to take the time to actually get the reward.

3. Kill the bad attitude early

The most productive people in the office have an attitude of productivity. If you go into your day thinking you'll be overloaded, stressed out, and bogged down, you will be. Change your attitude about work and start with the mindset that you will accomplish everything on your plate.

4. Eat a healthy breakfast

You might think breakfast is optional. After all, isn't it better to just dive right into work? Super-productive people eat breakfast. I always eat an egg and some fruit to get a protein and natural sugar boost. Being hungry at your desk can be a distraction. Avoid donuts and unhealthy snacks, though--they can kill productivity.

5. Schedule every phone call in advance

To some, a productive day means one spent making phone calls. And that's OK, but it needs to be predetermined. Schedule your calls, even if it means locking in a schedule in 30-minute increments. When you have a plan, you can achieve the plan. Don't rely on randomness.

6. Then, turn off your phone

That shiny little smartphone is a major distraction for really productive people. Use it only when you actually need to make a call or use an app. Otherwise, power that sucker down, or at least disable the ringer and vibration. For serious work sessions, leave it in the car.

7. Never read a news site more than once

I'm shooting my own foot with this one, since I write about the news quite often. The problem with investing a ton of time reading the news all morning is that you create a habit of distraction. It's OK to read the news once in the morning, then focus on work only.

8. Avoid the downers

Those who are super-productive tend to avoid the procrastinators in the office, the curmudgeons who don't finish anything, the complainers who act like the world is out to make them feel miserable. Nod at them in the hallway; avoid them everywhere else.


Massive Instagram update adds 5 new filters

Posted in News on 17 December 2014

Instagrammers: You're getting new filters for the first time in two years.

The company rolled out a massive update to its iOS and Android app Tuesday that adds five new filters and the ability to rearrange how filters appear within the app.

Instagram's new filters, Crema, Slumber, Ludwig, Aden and Perpetua, will now appear first in the filter tray of the updated app. It also made the filter tray itself smarter as the filter choices now display mini previews of what that filter would like if applied to your photo.

Users also now have the ability to reorder the app's filters or hide the ones they don't use. Scroll to the end of the filter tray to find the new "Manage" setting, which allows you to quickly personalize how and where your favorite filters appear in the Instagram app.

This is the first time the company has updated its filter set since adding the Mayfair and Willow filter in December 2012 (the app now has 24 total filter options.) Instagram says the new filters were inspired by camera improvements on smartphones and the creativity of its users.

"Photography trends have evolved, and the capabilities of the camera on your phone have vastly improved" the company wrote in a blog post. "We’ve seen tremendous creativity within the community, not only in the moments they share, but in the time spent carefully composing and editing photos and videos to bring out emotions and make them beautiful."


PR Inbound Marketing: The Future of Tech and Telecom

Posted in Tips on 17 December 2014

Traditional advertising is diminishing quickly, while inbound marketing has more than just a foot in the door. Companies are noticing they can find better leads, sell to target audiences, and have customers come to them using new software that integrates systems more efficiently. New technology is only going to help companies improve their numbers, and there are some key points to keep in mind when leveraging this new marketing strategy.

Impact of Inbound Marketing

Companies are seeing a shift with the new generation of technology-loving individuals that makes traditional advertising harder and harder to do. The way people interact with a company now is more personal, getting to know their backstory and the personalities behind the website. Direct, generic sales pitches are leaving a sour taste for people who want a more tailored experience when purchasing products. Companies need to start shifting toward the latest technology and social media outlets to gain a following. It will generate a loyal fan base of customers that will promote a company through social media/word of mouth, attracting more trusted customers than any billboard ever could.

So just how does a company start implementing this new technology? Here are four tips on how to make it happen.

Getting Noticed

Start by brainstorming whom the perfect customer is, fleshing them out with key personality traits. This is the target audience a company should be built around. Use a personal message for voicemail, so that interested clients feel like they are calling a person, not a robot. Implement caller ID and track area codes. By knowing where people are calling from, marketing can be better formatted to these specific areas. Create a blog with keyword-rich content (i.e. regionally-based) that will inform the target audience of essential products. The more content added, the higher up on a search engine list a company will land.

Also, dress up the company’s website, since this will be the first impression for many people. Create a responsive design site that will work with all devices so that social media sharing can be as efficient as possible.

Contacts Are Currency

Turning these visitors into contacts means asking for an e-mail address, getting one step closer to a sale. Each e-mail address becomes as valuable as earning a dollar, making the need for automated marketing software from companies like Hubspot vital. Even small companies will benefit from an all-in-one system to track analytics across each channel. Keep tabs on how each email address is earned to better develop new CTAs and forms in the future.

Create a form that will give potential customers something in return like exclusive content such as eBbooks or tip sheets. Use a specific call to action (CTA) to tell people right way what they will get for sharing their contact information.

Convert To Customers

Analyze each sale using VoIP systems to avoid long distance phone charges, helping increase the sales team’s profit margins by decreasing some overhead costs. Follow people’s likes on social media to help create focused content written with potential customers’ interests in mind. Create a targeted e-mail newsletter, a cost-effective tool for the company and a strategy that can seal the deal. This attention to detail builds support and trust with potential customers.

Post Sale

Don’t be a one-sale wonder. Stay in contact with customers by sending them surveys asking for feedback. Google has offered a new way to help collect data from customers with their Google Customer Survey service. All it requires to be installed is a small code copy and paste to get a survey to pop up at the lower right-hand corner of the site. Easy, painless, and free, making it a great tool for tech and telecom companies to start using.

Inbound marketing is quickly taking over, and tech and telecom companies need to embrace new software sooner rather than later to avoid being left in the dark. Use VoIP to cut long distance phone call costs, custom voicemail messages, all-in-one analytics software, and quick customer surveys to take advantage of the current benefits of IM.


Creative Career Advice for College Grads

Posted in Tips on 17 December 2014

Graduation is an exciting time. Not only are you greeted with gifts and congratulations, but, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll soon be introduced to new career opportunities that won’t be available to others. That said, it’s important you know how to navigate the new career landscape and make the most of whatever opportunity you decide to take advantage of. What’s the best way to avoid career fails? Here’s some unconventional, creative career advice for the graduating senior to help you make the most of what’s to come.

Don’t be afraid to improvise

You’ll hear a lot of career experts and professional career coaches stress the importance of having as much order in your professional life as possible. Well, that’s good advice to a certain extent, but according to Golin CEO, Fred Cook, improvising can be considered a critical survival skill in the career world. Cook asserts that improvising will help young people muscle up the courage to take risks and try new things in their career that they would have otherwise been weary of.

Try not to rely (solely) on your college education

No, it’s not to say that you wasted four years in college, but what you have to understand is that the knowledge gleaned from your college days will only go so far in your career. Be open to a perpetual type of learning that will allow you to operate with a spryness that will help to quickly take you to new levels in your career.

Avoid setting your hopes on being fulfilled

This may seem like the wrong type of advice to give, but it’s true and it will likely save you a lot of headache in the long-run. Career coach Stephen Pollan reinforces what the point of a career is when he tells us that we should refrain from seeing it as a source of fulfillment, and be more concerned with its role as a source of income. Pollan states that employers are concerned with making us happy, therefore, fulfillment should be found in areas like our love lives and other personal relationships.

Build your manager’s status before your own

Has anyone ever told you that what you do reflects on your manager? Well, they were right. So right, in fact, that in your career you will soon see how, in most cases, the recognition you should be getting for your hard work and business ethic will be reserved for your manager. Yet, that’s not all bad.

You see, your manager will be the one who gets promoted, who works on the big projects, and if the company ever downsizes, he or she just may be one of the ones deciding who gets to keep their job. So, if you’ve done your part in building and protecting their reputation, you’ll eventually get the recognition and reward you deserve – and it’ll likely pay off in ways greater than you ever imagined.

This creative career advice has the potential to take you far if you use it the right way. Take your career one day at a time and remember, it’s all about making the most of the role you’re going to fulfill for the next few decades.


Increase Your E-mail Open Rate By Improving Your Subject Lines

Posted in Tips on 17 December 2014

It’s been said many times that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

But when it comes to e-mail, no one seems to have a problem with making a snap decision.

Just like a direct sales letter, the subject line of your e-mail is usually the most important part of getting your readers to actually read your e-mail. If you have a compelling subject line the chance of your e-mail improves dramatically.

According to a recent survey, 40 percent of e-mail marketers said testing changes to just their subject line had a high impact on their return on investment (ROI). Forty-five percent said subject line changes accounted for a medium ROI and only 15 percent said that testing changes to their subject line results in a low ROI.

Your subject line is your first impression on your reader.

The words you choose for your subject line can have a big impact on if the hard work you’ve put into your e-mail will pay off.

Spending a little extra time on your subject line will help you boost e-mail open rates, avoid the junk folder and get your message in front of the right people.

For every e-mail you send, you’ve got room for about 50 characters in your subject line so use them wisely to improve your open rates. Below are some tips to help improve your subject lines:

Test the subject line – Take a look at e-mail campaigns you’ve sent in the past. Which subject lines worked the best and gave you the highest open and conversion rates? You might find that for a particular topic there’s a general trend or subject style that resulted in higher open rates.

The subject of importance – Try and put as much important and relevant information into your subject lines as possible. For example, if you’re sending out an e-mail about a special offer make sure the product name and details on the offer appear in the subject line in a clear and concise format such as ‘$40 off ACME Widget Until – Today Only.’

Personalize the subject line – If you have details about your contacts then you can use them in your subject line to get their attention. A subject line containing the contacts first name can sometimes out-pull one that doesn’t.

Avoid spam keywords — Most e-mail servers automatically filter out any e-mails that contain spam keywords in their subject line — Words such as free, stock, eBay, password, mortgage, etc all trigger spam detection software so keep them out of your subject lines at all times.

Trigger curiosity – The best way to improve your open rates is to pique the interest of your contacts. A compelling headline that entices them to open and read the contents of your e-mail can do wonders for your conversion rate. Headlines that trigger curiosity can sometimes work well for example: “Hi [First Name] – I have a question for you.”

Make the offer clear – If you’re making a special offer to your contact then be upfront and include it as part of your subject line. People love bargains and special offers so let them know about it before anything else.

Emphasize the benefits – We use this technique for our newsletters. We always use the format of “Newsletter – [Benefit].” In our case, benefit is always the title of an article contained in the newsletter, such as “Company Newsletter – 10 Tips for Better Subject Lines”. It works every time.

Easy identification – Make sure your contacts know the e-mail is coming from you. Deceptive subject lines can confuse people so always try to include your company name in the subject line. Also, make sure you set the “From” attribute of your e-mail to include your name and your company’s name, such as “From: John Smith.”

Exclaim nothing – Avoid using excessive punctuation at the end of your subject lines. Google bans punctuation from AdWords ads for a reason – too much hype can annoy and confuse people.

Tips for Writing Subject Lines

The best subject lines are straightforward.

Sounds simple, but subject lines should describe the subject of your e-mail. When it comes to e-mail marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.

Don’t confuse newsletters with promotions. If your e-mail is a newsletter, put the name and issue of the newsletter in your subject line, because that’s what’s inside. If your e-mail is a special promotion, tell your subscribers what’s inside. Either way, don’t write your subject lines like advertisements.

Always set your subscribers’ expectations during the opt-in process about what kinds of e-mails they’ll be receiving.

If subscribers signed up to receive updates on your company, don’t send an e-mail with a subject line like, “10 percent Discount! Open Now!” On the other hand, if your subscribers specifically opted in to receive discounts and promotions, there’s nothing wrong with saying there’s a coupon inside.

Use groups and segments for your list.

Collecting subscriber data to use with groups and segments helps target subscribers who are most interested in what you have to say. If your subscriber data indicates that someone is interested in vegetarian recipes, then they probably won’t open an e-mail with a subject line about the 10 best meat recipes. If subscribers provide information to help target your message to them, then use it. Otherwise, you’re cluttering their inbox with e-mails they don’t want and likely won’t open.

But don’t rely on our advice alone.

Take a look at your own inbox and see which e-mails you’ve been opening. Putting yourself in your contacts’ shoes is one of the best ways to write a subject line that will get you noticed and boost your business.


New Skype Technology Enables Nearly Real-Time Translation

Posted in News on 17 December 2014

Microsoft has broken the language barrier with Skype Translator, a new technology that can translate speech, practically in real-time.

The Skype Translator preview program is still in a formative stage, in which those who sign-up via this page can aid Microsoft in refining the technology.

“Even the smallest conversations help Skype Translator learn and grow, which can enrich your communication and lead to amazing things,” Microsoft said on its Skype Translator website.

Using Skype Translator a person will speak in the language of his or her choice and the words will then be translated into the recipient’s chosen language.

After one person speaks, the system then does its best to audibly translate the words in real-time. On the Skype display will be a text translation of what was said to act as a fail safe in case the automated voice makes a mistake.

The oral translator is currently available only in English and Spanish, but more than 40 instant messaging languages are available to those who have signed up and use Windows 8.1 on a desktop, tablet or Smartphone. Language selections will improve as people sign up for the preview version and Microsoft tinkers with improvements to the software.

“Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets,” Skype corporate vice-president Gurdeep Pall said in a blog post. “This is just the beginning of a journey that will transform the way we communicate with people around the world. Our long-term goal for speech translation is to translate as many languages as possible on as many platforms as possible and deliver the best Skype Translator experience on each individual platform for our more than 300 million connected users.”

Microsoft did a test run of its software with two schools: Peterson School in Mexico City and Stafford Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington.

The children played a game of ‘Mystery Skype’ in which they asked questions to determine the location of the other school. The Washington class spoke English, of course, and the Mexican class spoke Spanish. As the children posed questions, Skype Translator translated back and forth from Spanish to English and vice versa.

The technology works by combining Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator, and neural network-based speech recognition.


The Future of Google Updates and Penguin 3.0

Posted in News on 17 December 2014

Google’s sixth release of Penguin, dubbed Penguin 3.0, arrived with mixed emotions late October 17. Site owners began reporting fluctuations in page rankings, both positive and negative, on that date. Shifts in ranking continue to occur, and webmasters are unclear if the rollout is now complete. According to Google’s Pierre Far, it’s a “slow, worldwide rollout.”

But what, specifically, has been targeted? Google hasn’t been overly talkative about Penguin 3.0, so let’s take a closer look and see what we can determine.
Penguin 3.0 Targets Bad Link Profiles

The Penguin algorithm targets spammy links, and with every Penguin update, Google is getting more accurate in pinpointing sites that employ black hat tactics. The latest update is Google’s most recent attempt at penalizing sites that don’t comply with its quality guidelines and rewarding those that do.

What to Do if You’ve Been Hit

The good news is that it might be faster to recover from a ranking dive than it previously had been. In the past, site owners had to wait for the next update to see if they were able to make the necessary changes needed to recover. Now that updates seem to be rolling out over an extended period of time, recovery might happen faster.

If you’ve been negatively affected by Penguin, it’s important to determine what you did wrong, and then make the appropriate changes. Check your backlink profile, and branch out from there. Send out link removal requests if necessary, or use Google’s disavow tool.

As always, the best plan is to comply with Google’s quality guidelines and operate your website and SEO practices in a way that’s conducive with Google’s policy for best practices.

Where is Google Headed?

While no one knows for sure (the search engine behemoth isn’t always forthcoming and transparent about its plans), there are a few factors to consider when thinking about the future of search.
Will Google Continue to Update its Current Algorithm?

This is a fantastic question. If not, the other option is to launch a brand new element. Looking at Google’s 2014 financial tables, it’s clear that advertising accounts for the majority of revenue. Being that the bulk of advertising happens with search, many experts assume that Google won’t tamper with what’s already working very well.

This doesn’t mean Google is predicted to stop making changes. It simply means Google isn’t likely going to completely revamp something that isn’t broken.

Google is the King of Kings

Of course, we know that content is king. But if content is king, Google is the king of all kings. Google dominates the search market share and spent 7.3 billion on its data centers in 2013. This is further evidence that things are working quite well for our king. The emphasis is likely to be on refinement, not on a complete overhaul.

A Brief Refresher on the History of Penguin

Like the old adage claims, history repeats itself. And we see that this is true when looking at Penguin. Instead of brand new elements, we see refinement of what already exists.

April 24, 2012 – Google released Penguin 1.0 in an attempt to counteract spammers and those who purposely went against publisher guidelines. The update affected approximately 3.1% of queries and targeted keyword stuffing, sneaky and doorway redirects, link schemes and duplicate content.

May 26, 2012 – This tiny update known as Penguin 1.1 impacted about 0.1% of queries and focused on penalizing more sites that violated Google’s quality guidelines.

October 5, 2012 – Penguin 1.2 was released, targeting low quality links and affecting about 0.3% of queries.

May 22, 20 2013 – Affecting approximately 2.3% of queries, Penguin 2.0 further penalized black hat SEO tactics that violate Google’s quality guidelines. The update focused on low quality links, advertisements that float page rank, and hack sites.

Oct 4, 2013 – Penguin 2.1 was released and further targeted guideline violations and affected around 1% of queries.

This brings us up to date with the recent Penguin 3.0 update of October 2014, which, after a year of no updates, is further penalizing quality violations and has affected about 1% of queries.

Is this history lesson evident of a system that’s going to opt for a drastic change? Probably not. Small updates that affect no more than 3% of queries seem to be the trend – and it seems to be working well for Google.

With lots of legwork and a healthy dose of patience, search continues to reward those who follow on the righteous path toward a coveted first page ranking. And isn’t that the mark of a job well done? Nothing is supposed to come easy, and the value of hard work is a universal concept. Cutting corners is rarely prudent. The benefits that come with anything that was honestly earned feel better than something earned through a shady deal.

Your Simple Plan for the Future

If you want to stay in the game, opt for honesty. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Continue creating top-quality content and engaging in respectable, genuine SEO practices. If a tactic to increase your ranking seems questionable or too good to be true, it probably is. And it’s not worth your time. Penguin will eventually catch up with you – and the penalties could be severe.

Stay in Google’s good graces by not trying to outsmart the leader. The future of search – regardless of Google’s plans – is to continue to provide better and authentic results to searchers.

And don’t you want to be part of that genuine plan?


Apple and IBM Roll Out 10 New Mobile Apps Exclusively for Businesses

Posted in News on 16 December 2014

Today, Apple and IBM launched 10 new business apps, marking the first wave of a landmark partnership that the former adversaries forged earlier this year.

The deal will see the two companies ultimately team to create more than 100 business apps, capitalizing on both the unique ubiquity of iPhones and iPads as well as IBM’s proficiency in big data and analytics. The apps are being billed as IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions.

The first suite of software pertains to businesses in the realms of banking, retail, insurance, financial services and telecommunications, as well as governments and airlines, according to a press release. Some of the first companies to use the apps include Citi, Air Canada, Sprint and Banorte.

Plan Flight, for instance, has been developed to allow pilots to make informed decisions about discretionary fuel, while Advise & Grow enables small business bankers to get a real-time glimpse into client portfolios.

Incident Aware, an app for law enforcement officers, turns iPhones into crime-fighting devices, providing video feed of incident locations, information about victim status and more. And a retail app called Sales Assist connects associates with various customer profiles, allowing them to make suggestions based on previous purchases and ship out-of-store items.

Interested parties can check out the full rundown of available apps -- and contact IBM reps in order to implement them within their corporations.



7 Must-Do Tips for Startups to Generate Good PR

Posted in Tips on 16 December 2014

Most startups face a major challenge when it comes to public relations. They know buzz needs to be created through PR channels, but they don’t always have the connections or manpower to stir up good press. 

The right PR can help early-stage startups build user bases as well as attract interest from venture capitalists. Don’t let a non-existent marketing budget or the lack of a dedicated marketing team discourage you. Use these tips to help your startup generate press necessary for success.

1. Identify your target media outlets and journalists.

Putting together a well thought-out pitch takes time, which is something that startups don’t have enough of. Instead of pitching everyone and anyone, identify a dozen media outlets that are ultimately your top choices. Nobody ever made it by playing for second place, so go after the press you really want. Take some time to identify the journalists that write for these outlets -- read their work and follow them on social media.

This will help you to identify the person that is most likely to be interested in your pitch. You want to identify a particular staffer or journalist and create your pitch specifically tailored for them, even if you aren’t sending it directly to them. If you are submitting your pitch to a general tips or submission email mention that you would like it passed to a particular individual. If it is well put together it will get into their hands.

2. Use content assets as PR bait.

There are literally thousands of startups all drooling over media coverage, and unfortunately not every startup is going to get the coverage they want. To increase your odds of standing out, it is a great idea to have a clever and well thought-out piece of content to present as part of your pitch. A great example is an infographic. You can tell your story visually and get much more attention than you would if you just wrote it out. 

Have an interesting group of founders? Did you raise funding through a clever crowdfunding campaign? Tell your story through an infographic and include it with your pitch. This grabs the journalists’ attention, and if they publish it you will introduce your startup to a much larger audience simply because visual content is more engaging.

The goal is to be creative and to stand out from the other hundreds of pitches. Want to really stand out? Create a clever video and watch media outlets knock your door down wanting to talk to you.

3. Don’t send a copy/paste generic pitch.

Journalists and editors can spot a copy/paste job a mile away. If they even suspect your pitch is a copy/paste blast sent to every email address you could get your hands on they will delete it immediately. They get pitched around the clock every single day with generic requests -- make your pitch completely personalized and tailored specifically around them and the publication they work for. 

If they sense your request is genuine you are more likely to get a response. Also, don’t simply change the journalist name and media outlet. If you mistakenly send a request to someone at Venture Beat but the pitch says how much you love reading Tech Crunch you risk blacklisting your startup. Don’t be lazy -- if you want the results, you need to be willing to put in the effort.

4. Craft your pitch so it’s newsworthy.

You need to make sure that your pitch angle is newsworthy -- not only do you have to highlight a unique selling point, but you also have to craft your pitch so it relates to the media outlet that you are targeting. 

For instance, if your startup develops a web-based software-as-a-service product and you were targeting a media outlet that tends to cover social-media news, you could approach it by explaining how you used social-media engagement to secure your first 1,000 paid subscribers.

You can find a newsworthy angle for virtually any outlet if you just get a little creative.

5. Use Twitter for soft-introductions.

Virtually every journalist is on Twitter and many use it as their main communication source. Following them gives you the opportunity to comment on their work and put your name in front of them. Don’t start harassing them, but there is nothing wrong with complimenting them on recent stories. Be genuine though, they can see right through the BS. Twitter is great for soft introductions -- and if they connect your pitch to your previous Twitter communications, it can be beneficial. 

Twitter is also a great platform to use for identifying windows of opportunity. Imagine if your startup is involved in cyber security and you noticed every major media journalist was publishing a story related to the recent cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment? Cyber-security startups should be pounding the pavement hard right now looking for every opportunity they can find.

6. Include statistics and hard data.

Any time you can include data and statistics in your pitch, do it. Take a look at these statements:

“We just launched our brand new mobile phone cyber-security app to protect the images on your smartphone.”

“Our new mobile phone cyber-security app received 2,345,335 downloads in just four days.”

“We are finally ready to bring our product to market after a successful crowdfunding effort.”

“We are bringing our product to market after raising $2.4 million -- a very successful crowdfunding effort, which was 980 percent of our initial goal.”

I don't think I need to touch on this any more. The ones that contain statistics and hard data really make the statement pop and command attention.

7. Don’t make your pitch sound like a press release. Avoid boring fluff and get to the point.

When was the last time you read a press release that blew your socks off? I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that your answer is “never.” Most press releases are boring fluff composed of a few company statistics mixed in with some equally boring quotes. If you craft your pitch to sound like a press release, don’t expect a response. Short, packed with details and right to the point wins every time.

My company receives inquiries from startups all the time looking for advice. Often, they flat out say they have zero marketing budget, but if their request is to the point and grabs our attention -- because of their unique selling propisition -- we will typically fire off some advice and suggestions to help them out.

The key here is short and to the point combined with an attention-grabbing element. If they sent a boring press release-type message they wouldn't get the same response. The same approach needs to be taken when pitching journalists. If they understand your startup and you grab their attention in a few sentences it greatly increases the odds of them replying back to you.


3 Tips for Creative Leaders to Successfully Tackle Daily Business

Posted in Tips on 16 December 2014

Creative leaders, no doubt, lead differently.

They’re the change makers, idea champions and people inspirers of the world. But the fact is that they still need to find ways to manage the day-to-day tasks of running a business. This might seem contrary to the standard advice, “Stay in your genius zone!”

Yet creative leaders often forget to put enough time and energy into developing a system for daily task management that works. Many immediately become overwhelmed when thinking about systemizing their business. They’d rather spend their time and energy dreaming up the next big idea.  

With a little help, creative leaders can take steps to help guarantee that their businesses will thrive and their ideas make an impact. Here are three smart ways for creative leaders to strike a balance between the long-term and day-to-day aspects of their business: 

1. Allocate time for administrative tasks.

Creative leaders often feel bogged down by routine administrative tasks, such as going through their email inbox, updating the employee handbook and handling paperwork. But when neglected, these responsibilities pile up and become extremely difficult to handle. 

To avoid hectic pileups, creative leaders should become creative about how they schedule time for administrative work each day. Tumblr founder David Karp manages well the monotonous task of checking his email. He saves dealing with email until he arrives at work and allots 30 minutes at the start of each workday to tackle his inbox before moving on to bigger projects.  

You could try this and add a block of time at lunch or the end of the day to suit your schedule. For other big-ticket administrative tasks that are energy draining, deploy the simple trick of scheduling these tasks as calendar items and then your showing up to do them could save you months, if not years, of pain.

2. Follow through with setting standards and getting support.

Creative-minded leaders are able to shape and influence wonderful company cultures through their vision and energy. But it’s equally important that these leaders follow through with developing a company game plan, setting standards and aligning discrete actions with the plan. Delegation is key. Creative leaders must be able to let go and delegate aligned tasks to their teams.

For example, if a creative CEO is fine with employees' working from home or wants everyone to be in the office by a certain time each day, the expectation must be set and the rule adhered to. Failure to follow up means a slippery slope downward for all involved.

Hiring a right-hand person to assist with this process is helpful. This person should be more than an assistant and could be a chief operating officer or partner. But it’s critical to have someone trustworthy and capable of leading the administrative side of things.

Your relationship with this right-hand person should be based on your internal working process and what is effective for you. For example, one of my mentors who’s a creative leader likes to go on a morning jog with her key adminstrative leader and just start talking. The staff person is recording the session and can help her implement the plan from there. 

3. Know how to spell P&L.

Even though creative leaders might not be the ones accomplishing daily reconciliation of the books, they must take their companies seriously enough to set up regular weekly meetings about the organization's financial state. With a sound financial understanding, creative leaders will feel freer, make more powerful decisions and be much more confident.

Creative leaders are a special breed. They’re focused on the ideas that drive businesses and motivate teams. When they take a little extra time and effort to focus on the best way to tackle daily tasks, their companies can become unstoppable. 


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