November 25, 2008

Tips For Setting Priorities And Organizing Your Time

I am invariably late for appointments --- sometimes as much as two hours. I've tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.
--- Marilyn Monroe

I invested today in a workshop called Priority Setting And Organizing Your Time, facilitated by Dr. Gail Levitt. 

I can hear you quipping that I should have taken this course ages ago. I'm not so sure. I've developed skills over the years and augmented them this summer by
Even so, we all need reminding and fresh perspectives. Gail asked us to complete a questionnaire in advance, which is rare. She clearly read the results which had two advantages
  • no time wasted asking each attendee "What do you want to get out of the day?"
  • content further finetuned to our requirements
This additional preparation is worth an experiment (and serves as a reminder of an event).

How You See Time
I've been on a calendar but never on time.
--- Marilyn Monroe
We completed analysis which categorized our approaches to time as
  • Direct: quick, results-focused decisionmakers but overlook the human element
  • Spirited: creative, inspirational multitaskers but not concerned with deadlines
  • Considerate: put the boss first, help others but take on too much themselves
  • Systematic: deliver quality but get mired in details
Naturally, each category has advantages and drawbacks. We can belong to more than one. I'm primarily Direct and Systemic. Since we see as we are, I benefited by talking to those highly Spirited or Considerate. Just being aware there are differences can help us in dealing with our clients and colleagues.

The Best System
I thought we'd learn of the one system that solves all prioritization and organizing woes. No such luck. Since we're different, we need different approaches. That's fair but takes effort. 

Stress Tips
As a bonus, we got tips on dealing with stress. These three resonated with me
  1. Do something special for yourself every day (e.g., go for a walk)
  2. Remember there's always work left for tomorrow
  3. For paperwork, out of sight means out of mind
We covered lots. The usual challenge remains: applying what we learn. Better schedule that.


November 20, 2008

Four Lessons From The IFB 2008 Fall Summit

You can observe a lot by watching.
--- Yogi Berra

I attended portions of the Fall 2008 Summit from the Independent Financial Brokers (IFB) on November 4-5. By watching the presenters, I spotted four ways to improve our marketing and presentations.
  1. use subtle self-promotion
  2. have handouts
  3. stand apart
  4. write a book
Use Subtle Self-Promotion
Each presenter was introduced, which is courteous. Then bios were read, which is boring. Many presenters praised themselves, which is blatantly self-serving. You can't boast about yourself. Being part of a team helps because members can build up their colleagues. If you're solo, compelling content with a captivating delivery will make you memorable. The keynote speakers who started and ended the conference used this technique.

Since your attendees can read, why not rely on a printed biography instead? Interested attendees can find out more if you make an impression. This was done at the CALU Associates meeting two days later on Nov 7th. 

Have Handouts
Very few sessions had meaningful handouts. This continues to puzzle me because giving creates a positive impression and invokes the first universal principle of influence: reciprocity.

When handouts are used, the content is often too small --- three PowerPoint slides on a page with lines for writing at the side. We're aging and some rooms have dimmed lighting. Two slides per page works better. Recently, I've switched to 
  • one slide per page for readability 
  • printing on both sides to save paper
  • premium paper for quality
  • three-hole punched for insertion into binders
  • colour for impact
These handouts go into nice folders, stand out and seem to get kept. Well worth the extra cost. 

Stand Apart
Branding gurus and personal coaches tell us we must be different in a memorable way. How odd to see these experts touting similar, overlapping messages. They did not stand out in the sea of sameness. 

It helps to be where your competitors aren't. At a different conference, I sat with attendees at a table. I looked like an invited guest, not an annoying pest. This lead to better, longer conversations in a nicer environment. 

Write A Book
Several presenters wrote books. This is no longer seems to be a point of differentiation since you can self-publish. None of the titles were best sellers. I've read a couple in the past and haven't been impressed with the content. You can buy a book from an international thought leader like Seth Godin instead.

Writing helps you think better, which is very valuable. Putting meaningful ideas into a free ebook could be useful in marketing since advisors don't generally do this.