Give yourself Permission!

You work hard, we know this, so why can’t you take a break?

This ticket entitles you to a Break!
(image from google)

No I don’t mean vacation – I mean get up from your desk and get some tea/coffee/juice while staring out the window at the trees. Reports are due and you’re working hard but make time for lunch even if it’s just 15-20 mins to get some real food in your stomach.

Does that report need ALL of that detail? If you’re pressed for time, once the important stuff is there and it’s presented well, you can skip the bells and whistles this one time. I’m not saying to slack off, but a break is necessary, for your sanity, productivity and happiness. With no breaks you’ll make more mistakes, your fatigue will cloud your judgement and you want to do your best job. 

You can keep going yes but your body will break down, from the stress and the fatigue. So give yourself permission to take a break, all of your work will still get done, 15 minutes will make all the difference.

Tell me how you spend your breaks in the comments! Have a productive Friday and great weekend! See you Tuesday!

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Optimise it!

not mom, not my room, but close enough.

My room is clean and tidy. Those words are akin to the last words of any general uttered at the end of any long and arduous battle. Shout out to my main soldier – Mom – who saw the carnage and sought to rescue me. 

Seriously, the chaos of that tiny space was intense! Why? Well two reasons – 1) I am a pack-rat and I have terrible trouble letting go of papers, books, knick knacks etc because I feel like I’ll need them later on.

2) I fix my room in a way that is not conducive to keeping it tidy. I fix my room in the way that it “should” look according to other sane people but i’m crazy and lazy and things like “folding” and “putting on hangers” never get done.

This time, I’m determined to maintain this clean and tidy look (I’ve got space to spread down my yoga mat or to have a solo dance party and I’m not giving that up!). So to ensure continuity, I sat down and thought about how exactly I operate and fixed my room to facilitate these processes. For example, I always fling my jeans/pants onto the little basket that I’m supposed to fold and put them in. I was honest with myself, am I going to start folding? NO! So instead of continuing to facilitate this failing folding process, I instead used a little rack my mom bought me to facilitate said flinging. So when the jeans are flung, the room will still be tidy and this new rack also eliminates wrinkles etc that the jeans and other pants would get when flung on the basket. 

We act like this at work. We set-up our desks and our work processes based on the way we “should” or we work hard trying to make ourselves perhaps tasks in a way that doesnt come easy to us. Perhaps we continue with a method we came and found when we took the job, perhaps we set-up our desk the way our superiors like to see it. Even when Efficiency Specialists are called in, they often look at ways to change employee behaviour to fit the processes that management would like to see, however this seldom achieves maximum productivity. They (and you!) should be looking at how workers naturally go about their tasks and seek to facilitate this as it makes the job easier and faster. (Obviously within the safety / ethical rules and regulations)

So take a few minutes to ponder how YOU work, are those spreadsheets really helping you in their current format, is having the papers on the left side of your desk convenient? If not, move things around to suit you. You may be the weird one in the office for a bit but when your productivity goes up, you’ll be applauded (and probably copied!). 

Have a great Tuesday and see you all on Thursday!

IMPOSTOR!!!!

Yesterday, in a meeting, the sales coordinator for our Guyanese Distributor praised me, telling my General Manager that I was very keen, hard working and “on the ball” and he advocated that I be rewarded with an upgraded blackberry or a tablet for my efforts (tablet coming soon!!!!!). My General Manager agreed that I was indeed a very enthusiastic, hard worker. And for the very first time, I didn’t feel like a fraud. Why? Well, praising myself has never been my strong point, my friends and family will tell you that I hold myself to quite high standards and never feel like I meet them so it’s hard for me to accept praise. Apparently, this behaviour is so common, they named a syndrome after it – Impostor Syndrome.

image from nature.com via google

“The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome)

I’m not sure how I ended up with it (most likely has something to do with constant comparison to others) however, I can tell you how I got better. 

  1. Hard Work – I pushed myself harder to get closer to my ideal working self so now that I feel I’m closer to something worthy of praise, it’s easier to accept it.
  2. Family/Friends – I’ve got good people in my corner who often point out the good things to me, I’ve also got younger cousins who look up to me. Originally this was part of the problem, i wanted to be someone truly worthy of their adoration, but I realise I already am.
  3. Living in the Now – I came to realise the truth in all those sayings about how it’s about the journey and not the destination. It’s ok to celebrate small victories, you may not have achieved the ultimate goal but something as simple as getting every on your to-do list done  deserves a little pat on the back. 
  4. Stop Comparing – One of the main reasons I feel like an impostor is because of the constant comparison to others who i believe have done better. Listen, everyone’s journey is different and as long as you are giving it your absolute, unadulterated best, you are doing fine!
  5. Good is still good – When I finish a task I often think, I could have done that better and I beat myself up for the undone/unsaid things, even though the job came off well. I’m not asking you to settle but I’m asking you to realise that a “good job” is still good! You can’t go back and change it, so be happy with “good” for now and on the next job, use what you’ve learnt to get to “best”.

Are you suffering from Impostor Syndrome? Take a second to recognise all you’ve accomplished, you may not be the youngest manager or the break-out entrepreneur/best seller of the year but you have done a lot to be proud of. If you can’t see those things, surround yourself with people who do.

Have a productive Friday and great weekend! Also, welcome to the new follows, glad to have you around!

The Pegasus Hotel – Guyana / Goodness Gracious!

The last time I stayed here was quite unpleasant (let’s just say I had uninvited guests in my room… ) however I notified management and asked that they do a thorough sweep to ensure I’m happily alone this time. Now, I’ve got a pretty sweet room, see pictures below!

For those of you who came here looking for your daily dose of inspired business, well here’s a quick lesson: Be Gracious. 

As I mentioned above, my stay was less than pleasant last time but rather than hide my concerns from the very people who can fix them, rather than write on facebook, I wrote management a letter via email. However, I did not YELL or berate anyone, instead I was firm yet gracious. I know that the situation would have been most embarrassing for them and I wasn’t out to make anyone feel bad, I just wanted them to do better. To be fair, my graciousness was also inspired by a security guard stationed by the elevator, he was always so helpful and kind and polite, I just had to “pay it forward”. And it paid off – I got a nice room this time, much better than before. So be gracious and let people know their faults instead of telling others behind their backs. Be gracious whilst letting them know, you have every right to be mad but think of all the breaks you were given and pay some of that kindness forward, it goes a long way and it endears you to others. 

Now for a very brief look at the hotel room, I gotta run off to work!

Firm bed with fluffy comforter - I love comforters!

Firm bed with fluffy comforter – I love comforters!

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*lamp didn’t work, why lamp why?

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Soap is ok, cream is a bit chalky going on the skin

DSCN2038[1]

Overall I give it a solid 7 – 7.5. Pros: The decor is simple and nice, but i love the bathroom! it’s got a gorgeous tile pattern, and a square shower head! I’ve never seen a square one before. I’ve got a huge window that has a partial view of the hotel pool but it has a heavy curtain that keeps the light out, so the sun doesn’t wake me up too early.

Cons: The floor is COLD, like arctic cold, like me hopping from mat to bed and back again to ensure I don’t touch it. They should give bedroom slippers or something! The wi-fi is expensive ($10 USD per day!) and on top of that it’s slow, like struggling to load facebook slow! Lastly, there is no towel rack, no hand towel hook, no shelf in the shower to put soap etc. 

Ok guys, off to work, see you Thursday!

No Radio Silence!

(Image from google)

When faced with a crisis, our default reaction, strangely enough, is often paralysis; to stand in shock wide-eyed as the thoughts race through our heads and we try to pick the best course of action. Often it’s hard to tell and we delay as long as possible in making that decision. And we sure as heck don’t want to be the bearer of bad news so we limit communication and that is the number one “DON’T” in a crisis.

During a crisis is the NUMBER ONE time that you should be communicating with your publics. Think about it, whenever an earthquake or a heinous crime happens, the media is all over it keeping you informed – “oh they got the hostages out!”, “only 2 people were hurt”, “they caught the gunman”. You feel better knowing what’s going on. Same thing in your work and personal lives, when a crisis happens, your co-workers, suppliers, friends and family all feel better knowing what’s going on. It puts them at ease and lets them know that you are aware of the situation and that you are trying your best to handle it instead of running away in fear. 

How to Communicate during a crisis:

  1. Use every medium possible to reach your customers, suppliers, (or even your spouse) – facebook, email, radio, tv, twitter, youtube etc.

    image from google

  2. Define the problem – eg. “The much anticipated release of product XP-887 (shout out to my Mad Men fans) has been delayed.
  3. Give an explanation of why – eg. our mechanics noticed a headlight wasn’t shining as brightly
  4. Say what you’re doing to fix it – e.g. We’re currently adding some extra wiring to route more wattage to the headlight., and let them know you’ll be in touch.
  5. If Possible, let them know when the problem will be rectified – e.g. We should be finished in   1 hour so at 10 AM sharp be at the lot for the release of the XP-887!
  6. Let them know when next you’ll give them an update or just assure them that you’ll be in touch.

What if you have nothing to report? Doesn’t matter, communicate anyways, people need to hear from you. Throw an update on the facaebook page – “hey guys it’s been a hours and we’re still working to get that server back up. Again apologies for any inconvenience caused.” Your customers just want to know that you’re there, on the job. 

(Image from google, and futurama)

What happens if you don’t communicate? Wild conjecture. People’s imaginations run away with them and we humans like to think the worst. “oh no, we haven’t heard anything in a few hours, have they sold all their assets and run off to South America with my money?!”. Ok fine that example was a bit extreme but I think it illustrates my point nicely. without information, your customers will speculate on what you actually are doing and deem you incapable. Your competitors will get in on this ASAP too, “At Bob’s doors, you never have to worry about rusting hinges! Switch to Bob’s Doors today!”, and you don’t want that. By Communicating, you lead your customers thoughts down the “right” path, you give them the information before someone else does. (Also applicable to personal life where gossips and malicious people abound).

So how’d your last crisis go? Next time (not being negative but life is full of these things!) don’t go radio silent, instead, make sure and have a well thought out communication strategy, maybe construct it beforehand so you know what your plan is. 

Tell me in the comments about the last crisis you handled and I’ll see you guys Tuesday for the next installment here at CBT. Wishing you a productive Friday and a great weekend!

You are a Brand!

When we think of brands we think of products – eg. Nike – shoes, athletic gear; Gerber – baby food etc etc. However Brands can be people and you, my dear reader, are a brand.

As we covered in last week’s post, a brand is the name under which products are produced and they evoke a feeling in a customer or cause said customer to make a certain association/assumption when they think about it. Your personal image is a brand and anyone that might need something from you be it your co-workers, family or friends, is  your customer.

So, what do people think when you pop into their heads, what are you known for? Everything you do contributes to your personal brand; so for example,  if people know to expect on-time work from you then your brand message is one of punctuality and reliability. However, if they know they can never get an honest answer out of you and your work is sloppy, then your brand is one of dishonesty and bad work ethic. This applies at home too, if you’re the one who never pitches in at family gatherings or says you’ll mow your grandmother’s yard but never, ever get around to it, your family “customers” see you as being unreliable. 

So take an honest look at yourself today, what is your personal brand saying to people and how can you improve? 

See you on Thursday for “No Radio Silence!”, a look at how to handle crisis management. 

Have a good one!

Tony Stark IS Iron Man, are you the brand/product?

I just watched Iron Man 3 and ….

*possible spoiler alert!* 

Tony Stark in the Iron Man Suit
(image from google)

… they (the movie creators) leaned hard on the premise that Tony Stark, the man, the living breathing, brilliant sarcastic jerk who we all love so much, is Iron Man, and not the suit. It made me think about important it is to know what exactly your brand is and how hard it can be sometimes to separate the brand from the product. eg. In Barbados, “Pampers” refers to any type of device used on a child to collect waste. I actually had no idea that “Pampers” was a brand until I saw an ad on TV!

But let’s back up a bit, what’s the difference between a brand and a product? A brand is a name under which many items are produced eg. Adidas or HP. The items they produce are the products eg. the Adidas Clima (gawd those are great shoes!) or the HP Dv7 entertainment laptop.

Brands evoke a feeling in a customer or cause said customer to make a certain association/assumption when they think about it. eg. when you think NIKE you think good athletic gear; when you think converse you think funky cool sneakers; when you think Louis Vuitton, you think luxury. Brand names usually have a following and a dedicated customer base who are buying these products eg. Apple. This makes new product development a lot easier than looking for a new customer base each and every time. However, if your brand name is melded to your flagship product eg. Iron Man is the Suit, and said flagship product needs to be phased out, then you have a bit of a problem and you need to go on a re-association campaign to focus on what you need the customer to think the brand name is. (Also known as brand building) So in this case, perhaps Marvel wants to phase out the suits and focus more on Tony the person, so they spent roughly 130 mins reminding us that Tony Stark is the brand, not the suit. Now that the audience understands this, Tony Stark can open a tea shop and preach peace if he wants, it’ll still fall under the Iron Man brand as long as Stark does it.

So take a look at your brand, ask some customers, suppliers, friends, neighbours and see what your brand is really associated with, might not be what you expected. Maybe you have to distance your brand from it’s own “suit” so you’ve got some room to diversify, maybe you’ve got some brand building to do.

Have a productive Friday and great weekend and see you guys on Tuesday for “You are a Brand!”

It’s a Habit!

image from google

I was listening to Joyce Meyer in the car and she said that bad habits rob you of your best life. That stuck with me, and as usual, I applied it to work – Bad habits rob you of your best work. Think about a bad habit you have right now – maybe you’re often late to work. It’s only 15 minutes you think, but when you get there you need to spend another 15 to get settled in, you’re 15 mins behind on making calls, etc etc. What about if you don’t spell check your work or if you just don’t call people back on time. All of your stuff gets done, but can it be done better? Absolutely! Pick a bad habit and deal with it today!

It’s The Little Things

Greetings from Jamaica, birthplace of this blog! Apologies for no post on Tuesday, work completely tired me out and I didn’t get a chance to set the content to post as I usually do.

I’m staying at the wonderful Courtleigh Hotel, this time with a luxurious King Bed. 

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King Bed! (not a California one though)

However, said King Bed came at the expense of my balcony with mountain view. I still have a decent view though:

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Day-time view from my room

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Night-time view from my room

However this is the edited version, when I look down, I can see the dirty top of the lower level of the hotel, and I can see behind the hotel with the garbage cans and cleaning supplies etc. Kind of a spolier. 

The bathroom is lovely with a glass door and beautiful tiles:

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Bathroom with Lovely marble-like tiles

However, right above the towel rack is a vent, a very dusty vent. And when I think of the air that is coming through there, the dusty air that I am breathing as I shower, it kinda tainted it. 

As I ironed this morning, the steam iron dripped water all over my shirt. I also had to go down to the front desk for soap. I usually bring my own in case but I forgot to replenish this time and the maid also forgot to replace the hotel issued bath wash. 

These things are minor but to a picky customer or someone in a bad mood, they can spoil it. Same goes for your own work, if you write a brilliant report and have spelling errors, that can spoil it for the reader. 

No one’s perfect but even with a good product or good reputation, you need to be mindful of the little things you can improve – clean that vent, check the iron, spell-check the document before you send it. Don’t get complacent, keep striving to be your best.

Have a great weekend guys, see you Tuesday! See below some other pics of the room 🙂

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Flat screen Tv with great cable offering, also mini-fridge! (no honor bar though!)

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beautiful sink and wall art

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I should sit in this chair at least once before I leave…

What Businesses Can Learn from Natural Disasters

Wow, been a tough week for the world, Iran had a terrible earthquake yesterday which left many dead, my prayers are with those injured or mourning loved ones as well. 

In business, several disasters can occur – the market can change drastically and put you out of business eg. nobody rents tapes anymore; a new low-cost competitor can come in and take a chunk of your market share (happening right now in Barbados with a new internet service provider on the scene), and many more disasters lurking around the corner. But by looking at natural disasters, you can lean a few things about how to prevent and deal with those at your company level:

  • This how you currently monitor your market (image from google)

    This how you currently monitor your market
    (image from google)

    The Importance of Monitoring: Earthquakes, Floods and Storms are all pretty sudden occurances but there are always signs, no matter how small. This is why there are always teams in place monitoring the changes in the weather patterns, seismic activity and any other possible indicator. It is just as important for you to monitor the changes in your business environment – keep an eye on those price changes even if by 1 cent, monitor the human resource climate in your office, keep up with your customers’ feelings. These all seem like obvious things to watch but businesses often get complacent and sloppy with their monitoring and then are caught unawares.

  • (image from google)

    (image from google)

    Contingency/Emergency Plans are a Must: I would expect that at your workplace there is a clearly detailed plan for what to do when a fire occurs, everyone knows to exit the building immediately and where to assemble. Fire extinguishers are present all around, but where are your figurative fire extinguishers? What’s your plan for when that hot new entrant lands on the market? If the price of oil suddenly goes up by $20 a barrel, do you know what you have to do to stay in business? What if some new anti-whatever-you-sell campaign lands on facebook – do you have any idea where to begin with a counter? Let’s bring it closer to home, if your product suddenly had mass failures and returns, or mass negative reviews in the case of items you can’t return like a book, what’s your plan?

  • Keep the Public Updated: TV and radio stations as well as newspapers carry great coverage of these unfortunate incidents. The public is updated every hour on the hour on the latest developments, how to proceed, and where help can be found. The same with your business, you need to keep your public updated on your own “disaster”. What’s the return policy on the item, is there a refund? Are maintenance technicians working on the problem, how long will the outage last? Who’s available to talk to about it?

Natural Disasters and Business disasters can strike at any time, make sure you’re prepared for both. What do a hurricane and a failed business have in common? Each can cost you your house! So stop being lazy on monitoring the market, make contingency plans and keep your public updated (even without the disaster).

What lessons have you learnt from your business or personal disasters? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you next Tuesday!