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Which One is Right for You?

Calendars are the lifeblood of business operations. They always have been and always will be. One of the most common observations of successful businesses (and individuals) is they are very highly organized and have a consistent procedure.

A 2017 study by PMI found that only 60% of projects actually meet their goals. The primary cause of these failures is a lack of clearly defined objectives and milestones to accurately measure progress. For business purposes, whether it be content creation, marketing, social media, or anything in between, a good calendar management solution is the key to making sure your operations run smoothly and nothing falls through the cracks.

Now, that being said, there are tons of solutions on the market. Each has their own unique qualities and pertinence to your business. If you are in the research stage of investing in a tool, it can quickly become overwhelming to pinpoint the perfect program. Let’s discuss four heavy-hitter solutions currently out there and how they can be used for your specific needs.

1. DivvyHQ

There is perhaps no greater risk to a good content strategy than poor organization. As your content marketing efforts begin to ramp up, there will inevitably come a time when you simply cannot keep track of all your operations on spreadsheets, email, in your head, or anything...

Every leader manages a whirlwind of commitments, appointments, and deadlines. Sometimes it seems as if we’re one step behind. In this episode, we’ll show you the three basic tools that will enable you to manage your day. Plus, give practical tips on coordinating your calendar with an executive assistant.

Getting Over Institutional Obstacles to Focus

The best and most creative thinking and problem-solving can only take place during uninterrupted periods of time. You know it and so do your colleagues. Which is why your company wants to give everyone time one day a week—let’s say Thursday—to work alone.

Easier said than done. It is difficult to control the array of drive-bys, meetings, deadlines, and sudden projects that “must be done now” that sap energy and productivity during the work week. Creating a Focus Thursday period will require recognition of the problems, buy-in from everyone in the enterprise, force the company and staffers to become more organized, and must empower people to say no to requests that interrupt the day.

This means companies and other organizations must take four key steps companies to make Focus Thursdays a reality and provide you and your colleagues a day to really concentrate and get things done.

“ The best and most creative thinking and problem-solving can only take place during uninterrupted periods of time. —RISHAWN BIDDLE The workplace is the problem

Kevin Ashton, the man behind the Internet of...

Why the Right Tools Aren't Enough to Succeed

Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek is an enormously popular book, selling more than 1.35 million copies since its 2007 release. But that doesn’t mean its message on how to “escape the 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich” sinks in right away.

While Daniel Ndukwu, founder and CEO of software company Kyleads, was an early reader of the book, he admits that it took him years to put many of its suggestions into practice. Why? He notes that the notion of hyper-productivity seemed too good to be true, an anomaly achievable only by a select few.

Now, in retrospect, Ndukwu acknowledges that this very thought process was a limiting belief keeping him from becoming his most productive self. “It’s been a long battle, but I’ve come to accept that you can only accomplish what you believe is possible for you,” Ndukwu says. “Otherwise, you’ll sabotage the best-laid plans.”

The productive lifestyle

For leaders of teams large and small, those plans may include the latest developments in software and technology. But Ndukwu emphasizes that implementing tools without also adopting a productive mindset is a strategy for defeat. “Becoming more productive is a lifestyle change,” he explains. “If you’re not invested in it over the long term, you’ll be fired up for a few days...

3 Tips for Seeing Yourself More Clearly

Charley Kempthorne has been keeping a journal for more than 50 years. Every morning before the sun is in the sky, the professor-turned-painter carefully types out at least 1,000 words reflecting on his past, his beliefs, his family, even his shortcomings. The prolific fruits of his labor reside in an impressive storage facility in Manhattan, Kansas, where his estimated 10 million words are printed, bound, and filed.

This project, Kempthorne says, is an end in itself: “It helps me understand my life . . . or maybe,” he hedges, “it just makes me feel better and get [the day] started in a better mood.” But Kempthorne might be disappointed to learn that his enduring exercise may not have actually improved his self-awareness.

The journaling trap

At this point, you’re probably convinced I’ve gone completely off the deep end. Everyone knows, you might be thinking, that journaling is one of the most effective ways to get in touch with our inner self!

However, a growing body of research suggest that introspection via journaling has some surprising traps that can suck the insight right out of the experience. My own research, for example, has shown that people who keep journals generally have no more internal (or external) self-awareness than those who don’t.

How can we make sense of these peculiar and...

Why Leaders Should Junk the Technological Fallacy

Studying the history of paper, as I did while writing the book Paper: Paging Through History, exposes a number of misconceptions. The most important of which is this technological fallacy: the idea that technology changes society. It is exactly the reverse. Society develops technology to address the changes that are taking place within it.

To use a simple example, in China in 250 BCE, Meng Tian invented a paintbrush made from camel hair. His invention did not suddenly inspire the Chinese people to start writing and painting or to develop calligraphy. Rather, Chinese society had already established a system of writing but had a growing urge for more written documents and more elaborate calligraphy.

Their previous tool – a stick dipped in ink – could not meet the rising demand. Meng Tian found a device that made both writing and calligraphy faster and of a far higher quality.

The rising need for paper

Chroniclers of the role of paper in history are given to extravagant pronouncements: Architecture would not have been possible without paper. Without paper, there would have been no Renaissance. If there had been no paper, the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible. None of these statements is true. These developments came about because society had come to a point where they were needed. This is true of all technology, but...

Why We Shouldn't Paper Over This Success Story

If you ever attend Milan’s Design Week—a sweeping furniture fair, art festival, and Prosecco-soaked party that takes over Italy’s financial capital each April—you will need several essentials to fit in with the global trendsetters in attendance.

First, your glasses. This is a design crowd, so the options are polarized into two camps: ultraminimal frameless spheres that hover over your face, and inch-thick acetate beasts. Next, your clothes. Leave ankle-snapping heels and impossible dresses to the fools at Fashion Week; the name of the game here is the ideal mix of form with function, such as a limited-edition pair of Converse clad in sharkskin. Also scarves. You can never wear too big a scarf at Design Week, even if a sudden heat wave descends on the city.

Finally, there’s your kit. If you carry a bag, it needs to be small, streamlined, and slung over the shoulder. In one hand, firmly grasp the latest iPhone, which you’ll use to take photos of new chairs and kitchen tile installations, stay in touch with colleagues, and navigate your way between parties and events all over Milan.

In hand number two

In the other hand, you will carry a black Moleskine notebook. Perhaps you will bring the same, lovingly worn Moleskine back to Milan year after year, or maybe you will unwrap...

Studies Show: It Forces You to Focus

One of my earliest memories involves a handwriting struggle. My class had been tasked with writing stories. I love stories. My masterpiece, about accidentally catching a great white shark and putting him into my bedroom aquarium, was the longest in the class.

It was pages and pages long. It had chapters. I was in child-heaven until my teacher told us that we would be copying our stories into nice, hardcover books using our most perfect handwriting.

I spent more recesses than I can count sitting at my desk painstakingly writing into the book. My teacher eventually took pity on me and finished the final “chapters” herself. Her handwriting was shockingly better than mine.

I still have terrible handwriting, but I write constantly. Pulling out a laptop on the train to jot down random ideas seems unnecessary and also less romantic. Taking handwritten notes at lectures has always come more naturally to me than typing. I like arrows, explanatory margin notes, and multi-colored pens. My go-to study habit involves rewriting study guides ad nauseum, but only the points I haven’t mastered yet, silently repeating them to myself as I dot my i’s and cross my t’s.

Today, I am incredibly thankful for every teacher that made me sit at my desk and learn to write...

5 Simple Ways to Recover the Lost Art of Note Taking

If you spend much time in meetings or presentations, note taking is a survival skill. So I’m surprised at how few people bother to do it. Those who do sometimes express frustration at how ineffective it can be.

I don’t recall anyone ever teaching me how to take notes. I didn’t learn it in school—not even in college. Nor did I learn it from others on the job. It was something I had to pick up on my own.

That’s probably true for a lot of people, and I bet it’s why so few people bother to take notes. No one has ever told us why it’s important or how to do it. That ends here. I’m going to share not only why you should take notes but also offer four suggestions on how to do it better.

Reasons for note taking

To begin with, note taking enables you to stay engaged. The real benefit is not what happens after the meeting but during the meeting itself. Taking notes not only keeps us focused, it also triggers critical, constructive thinking.

If I don’t take notes in meetings or presentations, my mind wanders. But when I do, I stay more alert and involved. As a result, my contribution is more likely to add value. For this reason, I take notes even if...

Why Every Leader Should Re-Adopt This Tried-and-True Technology

We all want to be more productive, but we’re drowning in a sea of productivity apps and hacks. We’ll show you why every leader should re-adopt a well-known—but often overlooked—productivity solution: paper! By using paper in some situations, you can avoid wasting time and money on solutions that don’t work and focus on your most important goals.

Leverage Your Attitude, Save the Whole Barrel

When the conversation turned to his status as the first American to hold the much-coveted WBC World Heavyweight Championship belt in eight years, no one would’ve batted an eye if Deontay Wilder attributed the achievement to his considerable skill and punching power.

Instead, the former Olympic bronze medalist boxer explained, “When one guy is doing good, it makes all the others want to achieve greatness. It’s contagious to do great. But once that one bad apple falls, everybody else will fall, and that’s how it is.”

Apples in a barrel

Though your own “ring” may look suspiciously like an office and be devoid of uppercuts and left hooks, this “greatness contagion” does not observe such boundaries. No matter the theoretical architecture of your barrel, the quality of the apples you share it with matters.

An actual bad apple in an actual barrel, according to Mental Floss, emits the “gaseous hormone…ethylene”—a ripening agent, which, concentrated, can trigger the same effect in other fruit. “Given the right conditions and enough time,” the author explains, “one apple can push all the fruit around it to ripen and eventually rot.”

The same concept applies to people, with one huge exception. One “single, toxic team member” has been shown to serve as “catalyst for group-level dysfunction.” That was one finding of a...

5 Simple Steps to Greater Self-Awareness

We all know that being a great leader means practicing self-awareness. But that’s incredibly hard to do in a consistent way. In this episode, we show you how the simple practice of writing for a few minutes a day can help you avoid making mistakes based on pride or ignorance and make solid decisions by being aware of your own motivations.

Five Steps to Learning from Mentors in the Digital Age

Personal growth comes from self-awareness, and the practice of journaling is a phenomenal way to start that process with regular reflection—as long as your reflection is accurate.

If you’ve ever been to a playground or circus with fun mirrors, you know the slightest bend to a mirror creates a distorted image that reflects your image different than you actually are. Self-reflection works the same way.

At the circus, it’s easy to recognize distorted images. You’re reflected as stretched out or squeezed, ridiculously tall or comically short and stout.

In daily life, distortions are often much smaller. How do you know when your self-reflection is distorted by subtle bends that are throwing you off?

Reading your label from inside the bottle

Donald Miller explains this self-reflection distortion with a comical example, where he had one client complain that they felt like they were trying to read the label from inside the bottle. With that image in mind, it’s no surprise that it’s difficult to “read your own label” with accuracy. Thinking about yourself as yourself inherently limits your perspective.

The only way to overcome this challenge is to expose yourself to mentors who can provide an outside perspective. Luckily, in today’s world, your next mentor is...

How to Be More Consistent in Your Journaling

Life is a great teacher. But you have to pay attention and take notes if you want to be a great student. That’s why I made journaling a regular part of my morning ritual several years ago.

Journaling helps me clarify my thinking, process my feelings, and make better decisions. It’s also cheaper than therapy! But like most people, I haven’t always been consistent. In the past, I really wanted to journal. I was convinced of the benefits. But I found myself blowing it off with increasing frequency. Sound familiar?

Thankfully, a few years ago I stumbled on something that solved the problem for me. Not one hundred percent of the time, but most of the time. At first, I didn’t think it was a big deal. It seemed too simple. But I shared it with my wife, Gail, who was struggling with consistency herself. After successfully using it for a few weeks, she said, “Honey, you have got to blog about this.”

So here’s what I shared with her: Use a journaling template.

Not that earth-shattering, right? I didn’t think so. I template almost everything I do so I don’t have to constantly reinvent my workflows. I want to document...

Great Ideas You Can Borrow for Your Own Team

Starting and growing a company is tough stuff. Just ask the 80 percent of entrepreneurs who fail within the first eighteen months of hanging their shingle.

With data like that, it’s not surprising that those who do stay in business want to celebrate the big wins—and the smaller ones, too. And if you’re looking for a reason to pop your own cork, some experts believe that celebrating accomplishments can actually lead to more success.

Naturally, the ways companies celebrate is as varied as the companies themselves, and the industries they occupy. So here’s a look at five you may want to borrow for your own team.

Paying it forward

Achieving a major company milestone is certainly a reason to throw a huge party, and celebrating twenty-five years in business definitely qualifies as “major.” Yet for Dream Events and Catering, a full-service catering and event company based in Nashville, Tennessee, spending a ton of cash on a fancy soiree didn’t seem appropriate. Instead, the community-driven firm decided to celebrate others.

Last summer Dream embarked on its Summer of 25 Dreams campaign, a pay-it-forward style effort that focused on “feeding, empowering, supporting, championing, creating, and committing acts of dreaminess...

5 Reasons Organizations Should Do It More Often

My life is full of celebration. There are happy dances for finished dishes, celebratory puppy cuddles for when our rescue dog makes it around the block without barking, and obligatory family clapping when my son eats anything other than bananas. He really loves bananas.

That’s my home life: dances, cuddles, and clapping. There are also theme songs.

I’m not the only one celebrating. Celebration is one of our most natural impulses. First steps, rolls, words, and bowel movements are celebrated. Good grades are celebrated. Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and Fridays are celebrated.

A salesman takes his wife out for dinner after a sale. A couple sips sparkly champagne together in celebration of their anniversary. Graduation ceremonies end in a multi-generational gathering of congratulations and gifts. We celebrate with our loved ones on a regular basis.

But that’s not always true of the office.

Celebrate good times? Come on!

Unfortunately, most of the companies I’ve worked for over the years have been missing out. Birthdays were sometimes celebrated. Organizational successes were shared without celebration, at least not celebrations that were inclusive of everyone. Anniversaries, work or otherwise, were unknown. Individuals shared only their most profound, work-related success stories. Progress was rarely celebrated.

Though some companies have embraced celebration, the traditional brick-and-mortar, nine-to-five, personal-separate-from-professional view of a workplace environment is far from dead.

Let’s kill it already. Not only should we be celebrating at work, but we should be celebrating the...

Why High Achievers Struggle to Celebrate and What to Do About It

Good leaders practice the fine art of celebration. Recognizing both team achievement and individual contribution is rocket fuel for morale. Yet for many high achievers, the need to celebrate is a blind spot. Often, they cannot see their own accomplishments or are reluctant to commemorate them. I know this because that was my experience until about ten years ago.

I had reached a low point in my career (so I thought). I was languishing in a midlevel job (in my estimation), and desperate to make a mark on the world. I voiced that desire to my wife for the hundredth time, ending with, “I just want to succeed at something.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Heather said. “You were a much-loved pastor, now editorial director at a thriving publishing house. You’ve written three books, your children are flourishing, and your wife is madly in love with you. You’re one of the most successful people I know. Why can’t you see that?”

Spousal hyperbole aside, she had a point. Given the many good things in my life, why was I focused only on the few that eluded my grasp? Because I, like many who are driven by the urge to...

Affordable Ideas for Stewarding Your Greatest Resource

Celebrating with your team is one of the best ways to show your appreciation for their effort and achievement, but that takes intentionality. With a bit of creativity, you can transform the culture of your team by celebrating achievements together.

Celebration and appreciation are two sides of the same coin. So, when you take time to observe what your team has accomplished you’re really affirming them—not just what they’ve done. Richard Foster says that “celebration comes when the common features of life are redeemed.” The simple act of noticing even the everyday contributions of others has a hugely positive effect on morale and culture.

“ The simple act of noticing even the everyday contributions of others has a hugely positive effect on morale and culture.—MEGAN HYATT MILLER

Yet this doesn’t come naturally to all leaders. Major wins, such as achieving annual or quarterly goals, may be obvious. But noticing the more frequent—and more mundane—contributions of team members requires something extra. It means training yourself to notice what people are doing right, then developing the habit of pausing to celebrate.

Remember, you get more of what you affirm. So when you celebrate...

How to Fuel Your Team with Affirmation

Celebration may cost a bit of time and money, but it is well worth it. If you invest the effort in celebrating with your team, that effort will be more than repaid in improved morale and increased productivity. In this episode, we’re going to explore the who, what, when, where, why, and how of celebrating—especially with your team.

How to Avoid the Pitfalls and Inspire Your Team

He stood awkwardly in the front of the room. I remember him shifting on the balls of his feet as he read a script from behind the podium. We were called into the auditorium to hear the vision of the company. Rumors of impending layoffs circulated, increasing the tension in the room.

Many years later, I don’t recall the specifics of what he said, but I remember little things: the temperature in the room nearing sauna levels, the executive’s monotone voice and lack of emotion, the woman to my left who asked the first question (and received the first non-answer) and the way the speaker ended his talk with a cough into the microphone and caused piercing feedback in the speakers. We filed out quietly, somewhat glad that we hadn’t been collectively let go. We were all quietly pondering the meeting as if we could give it meaning after the fact.

Years later, I would take the first of several CEO roles. The very first time I was delivering a strategic vision, I thought about the first one I attended and the mistakes made. I’ve tried to avoid the most common pitfalls, but I still made my own share of errors along the way.

Here are nine mistakes to avoid when communicating your vision:

Mistake 1: Ignoring the room. That negative experience always has me thinking of the room logistics: sound, temperature, technology, and visuals....