It’s All In the Balance

When life is hectic, especially right now with the holidays, time seems to slip from our hands and balancing life, work, kids, and other things is hard to do.  Yes, I can tell you to take a breather but that might make you hyperventilate.  So instead, I am going to ask you to stop and take a moment to read these seven tips on how to balance everything.

1. Don’t overbook.

This may seem unusual to people who try to crowbar as much as possible into every workday. The problem is things rarely go according to a prearranged agenda. That means a lot of time falling through the cracks chasing down appointments, unreturned phone calls, and other items that simply are not going to happen. Instead, keep your to do list as simple as possible but productive.

2. Prioritize.

The secret to booking your time effectively boils down to knowing what is important and what can wait. However, it is critical to use the sharpest knife possible in trimming the essential from the secondary.

3. Learn how to say no. 

One of the biggest land mines to effective time management is recognizing you do not have to agree to everything and with everyone. Use your priority criteria to identify requests that simply are not worth your time.

4. Organize.

Bringing your time in line is not just a matter of scheduling. The mechanics of how you operate can be every bit as important. That means organizing most every element to allow as smooth a workflow as possible.

5. Use technology.

Although personal habits and practices can do wonders for time management, do not overlook technology yet another weapon to make the most effective use of your workday.

6. Nothing is Perfect .

Try as we all may; time management is not an exact science. Do not stress out—and waste time in the process—by obsessing over every second of time. Do what you can and enjoy whatever time you spend more pleasantly or productively.

How to Get Motivated

Now that we have kicked the procrastination habit, seemed appropriate to talk about staying motivated.

What is motivation? This simple but complex word can bring both disappointment as well as accomplishment.  It drives you to take action but can also drive you to not want to do anything.  Motivation is a word that everyone struggles with at one point or another but how long this lasts is up to you!

Are you finding it hard to keep motivated – especially with the holiday season upon us? Do you find yourself going strong and then BAM!  Something comes up and it takes a lot to get your motivation back on track.  The ironic thing about motivation is when those rough times come your way, if you keep it going, you will succeed.  Motivation is not easy but with a little hard work it is achievable.

Here are five tips to keep your motivation going especially during this time of year:

1.   When you have set-backs, the worst thing to do is to focus on the negative.  Instead re-focus, and do not hesitate.  Make a plan and go with it.

2.  Stay positive.  The number one reason people lose their motivation is due to negativity. It is like a disease that overwhelms your entire train of thought.  So just don’t go there!

3.  Believe in yourself.  When you start to doubt yourself, motivation starts to slow you down.  Before you know it – your motivation is gone. Be a believer.

4.  Acknowledge the progress you have made.  By looking at everything you have accomplished, it will jump start your motivation.  And reward yourself for this, it is huge!

5.  Stay focused at all times.  Keep a to-do list to remind you of everything that must be done.  By doing this, it will help you keep your eyes on the prize.  And let you see just how much progress you have made.

There is no such thing as “Instant Success”.  Everything in this world takes time, work, and motivation.  Motivation is not easy but with a little hard work it is achievable.  Let me know what helps keep your motivation!

Have a good week!

How to Really Get Things Done, Check Things Off Your List, part 2

Last week, I gave you three tips on how to avoid that ugly 15 letter word called: PROCRASTINATION

The next three tips I am going to give you is an important part of checking things off your list, so you can actually get things done.

Tip#4: Do the Hard Things First  

When you are writing your priority items down (Tip #1), avoid putting those “Tasks” that you loathe last.  In fact, I bet one of the reasons you have procrastinated and are behind is because there are tasks you don’t like to do.  So, for example, if you HATE balancing a financial spreadsheet, put that down first.  Remind yourself if you get those “HATED” items done first you will have the fun items, things you enjoy doing, to do at the end of the day.

Tip#5: Make a Commitment  

The best advice I heard concerning procrastinating, is to commit to doing a certain number of tasks at the beginning of each day.  By making a commitment, you are more likely to stick to it.  If you are like some people who may say “I tried that and I have no problem letting myself down.”  Then ignore that thought in your head and move on to the Tip #6.

Tip#6: Accountability  

Everyone has a friend or co-worker in their life who will keep them straight and not take bogus excuses. Let them know you are struggling with procrastination and need someone to help you get over it.  Email them your list and ask them to hold you accountable. At the end of the day, that person can contact you (or vice versa)  and ask you “What did you get done today?” It is important to choose a person that won’t let you off the hook if you don’t keep that daily commitment.  You both can even set up a consequence/award system.

I hope you enjoyed these six tips which will help you overcome: PROCRASTINATION!     Make sure you let me know what you think about these tips or
even share some of yours!  See you next week!

Creativity + Testimonials = Results

In a fast pace world of marketing, one of the best ways to stay ahead of your competition revolves around one word: CREATIVITY.  So today I am going to show you how combining a little bit of creativity with your testimonials yields great results.

No matter where you are using your customer testimonials, you want to present them in a way that pops out to the reader.  Be honest – how many of you have visited a website selling a product and you find at the bottom of the page a BUNCH of writing and small pictures?  Now be honest again – because it is in a format that seems like “a lot to read”, you skip over it, right?

You do not want your potential customers to skip over a wealth of information that sings your praises.  To help you out, I have created a list of creative ways to use your testimonials:

1. Put a Name with a Face
• By putting a picture beside a testimonial, it allows the potential customer to be able to relate especially if they are the same gender, race, age, etc.

2. Hearing is Believing
• Adding an audio clip or video gives the testimonial an additional level of believability.  It allows the potential client to hear or see the exact emotion from the testimonial.  Think about it – when you read something, it is hard to see how excited or disappointed a person is.  This takes out all the guesswork and delivers a message with real emotion.

3. Visually Creative
• The best way to set up testimonials on a page is by putting them in a gray or yellow box.   By taking the time to create a page that is visually appealing will bring in more clients and ultimately better results.

The most important thing to remember is to put your testimonials in a positive and appealing position on the website.  You want to make sure the potential client is not just scrolling past them.  Instead, they pop out and draw the potential client in to wanting to read what others have to say about you.
Tune in next week to discover how potential clients respond to testimonials.

The four types of testimonials that get results…

In my previous blog, I gave you a simple overview of testimonials. Today we’re going to dig a little deeper.  In fact, I am going to let you in on a secret that most people don’t know:  There are four types of testimonials and each are used to overcome different objections that potential customers may have.

1.  Benefits:

  • Apprehension to trying a new product/service is a normal reaction, especially in this tight economy.  Many people have to watch how and what they spend their money on, so often they stick with what they know.  With this type of testimonial though, people are not only seeing others buying your product/service but also their opinion.
  1. Objections:
  • When it comes to trying a new product/service, people are not only looking for benefits.  They are also looking for flaws or problems current customers may have experienced.  Nothing is perfect in this world – this includes your product/service.

Example: “I was hesitant on hiring Shannon because she was new to being a Virtual Assistant.  Shannon put my mind at ease by suggesting doing marketing strategy report as a test.  This impressed me because she knew there was hesitation in hiring a new person.  I am so glad she was willing to put herself out there because hiring her was the best thing I did.”

  1.  Personality:
  • This type of testimonial takes the focus away from the product/service and puts it on YOU.  It is important for a potential client to see
    the personality behind the product/service.  It’s like an instant referral for a potential client to see why other clients chose you.
  1. Case Studies:
  • The previous testimonials are so important for potential clients but this one adds the icing to the cake.  Not only are you giving them testimonials but also solid facts about your product/service.  Potential clients want to see upfront exactly how your product/service will further their business. 

I want to share a story with you.  A manager of a very successful restaurant knew the importance of a positive testimonial.  Before every shift, this particular restaurant manager would share these words with his entire wait and hosting staff.  There was not one shift meeting where he did not end with these
words:

“All it takes is ONE negative dining experience to effect daily business in the restaurant industry.  We have ONE chance to show them why we are their top choice when it comes to dining out.  Think about how many people ONE dining guest knows.  For every person this dining guest knows, will equal a negative opinion about our restaurant. It will not stop there because the people told will then tell another person.  Any time after that, if someone mentions our Restaurant that one negative experience will come to mind.”

Commit to Your Plan to Create Success

I was recently listening to a panel discussion made up of several well known marketing experts and one of the panelists said something that really jumped
out at me.

The panelist was Jay Conrad Levinson who is known as “The Father of Guerilla Marketing.”  He said that he believed “…a mediocre marketing program with commitment will always prove more profitable than a brilliant marketing program without commitment. Commitment makes it happen.”

As soon as I heard that I knew he was right… but I was not really sure why.  So I thought about it for a while and came to a conclusion.

Commitment is when you—

Create a marketing program – good or bad – and then commit to it.

Include the message in all your communication.

Know everyone in your organization follows the program.

Give your customers the same marketing message from you over and over for a long period of time.

Send regular emails, or a newsletter, or have a blog.

Then something happens…You create consistency. This consistency then creates a feeling of trust for you in your customers.

A few weeks ago in my post The “Oprah Factor” and how you can create your own “ X Factor” I talked about the trust that Oprah’s fans feel with her and how this led to very strong and deep emotions they felt about her and this in turn led to the tremendous influence her opinions have on her audience.

Let’s face it.  There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now.  Your customers are craving consistency and dependability.  They are looking for people to do business with they can rely on.

What you need to do is to develop a strategic marketing plan and commit to it.

If you haven’t created one, or I you’re not sure where to start with developing a marketing plan, I always suggest of course surveying your customers.  Even a very short questionnaire with one or two questions about what they are worried about, what keeps them awake at night, or struggling with right now in their business, will give you a great starting place to build your marketing plan.  Here’s where you can get more info and examples about surveying your customers.  www.createamazingsurveys.com/replay.html

And if you need more help, this is what I do with my clients— create marketing roadmaps/plans for them so they can have a more successful business.  Click here for more info. www.marketingimplementer.com/uploads/Find_Hidden_Money_Article_App.pdf

You created a blog… Now What?

The beauty of blogs is that you don’t need to invest in software to maintain it.

Blogs are maintained online and so you can access them anywhere and at any time, as long as you have an Internet connection. You just sign in to your blog account and you can create a post, edit post, change blog template, customize your blog and change blog settings easily.

It is also very easy to add a lot of cool tools to your blog like an opt-in or subscription form so if you don’t already have a list it is a great way to start.  If you already have a list it’s also a great way to continue to build your list.

Ideas of things to put on your blog besides articles:

  • Video is really easy to publish on your blog and is another great way to get noticed by the search engines. Google loves video.
  • Go to blinkx.com and find a video on a topic that’s in your niche that you like and insert the video with a commentary on your blog. You can also go to YouTube.com and do the same thing.
  • Have a guest blogger write an article one week for you.
  • Review a product or service.
  • Do a frequently asked questions.
  • Search ehow.com or ezinearticles.com for some ideas.

Another cool thing about blogs is each post you create is assigned with different URL address which means they each will have their own and separate web page. This is just one reason blogs are great for getting noticed by the search engines.

Position yourself as an expert! Plus not only does a blog help you get attention and traffic.  Your blog positions you as an expert and builds your credibility.  Plus a little human touch goes a long way to building trust.  See my previous posts about Oprah to learn why that is important.

Let me know when you have your blog up and running.  Post a link to it in response to this post and share it with everyone here.  I would love to see it.

Successful Keys to Productivity

work_lifeHow can you be more productive? There are so many ways to increase your productivity. Which one to choose? Hmmm…


What’s interesting to me, is my first job out of college was working in sales, out of my house. And I ended up doing that for about 10 years before I even entered an office building. I discovered some interesting things about myself and how I work. One thing: I really like my freedom of time and doing what I need to do on my own terms. And two: I’m much more productive and creative late at night. Now, these two things make it quite interesting and creative when working out of my house these days because I end up working many more hours than I ever did when I worked in an office – go figure!


So lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research to find out how I can be more productive with my days and get more done in shorter periods of time. I’ve discovered some good tools that have helped me and I got so much out of that I thought it would be fun to share with you!


One key that I discovered is that I need more balance between my work, having fun play time (like taking photos, reading, watching movies, playing games, etc.) family time and time to exercise. All of these are very important, yet balance is the key. When I work too much it takes its toll on all aspects of my life. The more balance I have, the healthier I feel, and the more productive I am.  For example, what I found immensely useful was creating a “morning success ritual” which I coined from Eben Pagan’s Wake Up Productive Program. His program has helped me immensely be more productive in my day. Why? Because I start my day with drinking water, exercising, meditating, and eating a healthy breakfast. So, when I get to my office in my house, my head is in the right place and I’m ready to rock-n-roll through my day to be more productive

Here's Eben Pagan and the Glazer-Kennedy Info Summit
Here's me and Eben Pagan and the Glazer-Kennedy Info Summit

Another key was doing a couple of exercises each week – (in addition to my morning success ritual.)

1) Taking 20 minutes each week and writing down ALL the things that are on my mind and bothering me. Then, going back through my list and putting a star next to the things that I have control over, and putting a check next to all the things that are out of my control. Next, I go back to all the things that are not in my control and take a deep breath and release. Some of the things that are on my list right now that are in my control are – the huge list of things that I have to do in my own business and for my clients business, need to get my plane ticket to the GKIC Superconference in Chicago, writing my blogs for the next month to get to my marketing coordinator to post and on and on…. What’s out of my control is my worry about will my IRA ever bounce back, what will happen with the economy, etc.

2) Then I write down all the areas of incompleteness in my life, lose ends that need to be tied and where I need to close the loop. Some of these may overlap with the list above. The key is recognizing what’s in your control and what isn’t. Then, planning some small action steps around closing the loops on the important ones. An example would be, maybe you have a bunch of opened email that’s nagging at you because you were away for a few days. So, plan some time on your calendar to tackle that nagging thing and close that loop.

3) Having a daily priority list of what I’m trying to accomplish. My priorities usually start with what actions will bring me income, recognition and help promote me and my clients.

Just doing these three things – has really helped ease my mental state. Plus, it has opened up a lot more space for my brain to then tackle so much more, including having fun!

I find when you’re an entrepreneur, the name of the game is being more productive and how to squeeze more out of each and every day. Experiment, see what works and let me know, I’m always open to new ways of being more productive!

Know When To Hold em, When to Fold em…

Remember this line from Kenny Rogers song The Gambler- “Know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away and know when to run…” Well with this continuous talk of gloom and doom in the economy (I don’t watch the news anymore. Yet it seems people I talk to keep bringing up “the recession.”), this song came to mind which we could gleam some interesting things…

For one, Hillary and Obama are all over the news this week. He finally declares victory and she’s chiding away from publicly announcing he’s got the nomination. Talk about “know when to fold em…” This whole thing to me seemed to drag out forever. Thank goodness it’s coming to a conclusion. Not one to dwell on politics here, but I really liked Hillary and thought having someone with her experience in the White House might be good for our country. So it will be interesting how this will all unravel.

In fact, last night I was at this really fun event- it was a book launch party for Pamela Skillings, who just published her new book called Escape from Corporate America. I met her through a networking group over a year ago. She interviewed me and I have a mention in the book. It’s a wonderful book that will help many people during this interesting economical time. (Photo- Author, Pamela Skillings and yours truly- Shannon M.) This is where Kenny Rogers song really hits home to all the people in Corporate America who feel stuck, exhausted, not sure what to do next- they have to know when to hold em, fold em or walk away. Pamela’s book will really come in handy if you find yourself in this catch-22- need to make money, yet not liking what you do, or maybe you have a friend or family member who’s in that position. I’d totally recommend picking up a copy of this book and giving it to them. If you want to know more, you can also go to her blog- http://blog.escapefromcorporate.com/

It was a really cool and fun party in New York City. The mojitos and much rum was flowing. I was hesitant about going by myself because I wouldn’t know really anyone there. Yet, I decided to keep up with my trend of being bold and daring. So off I went on the train to New York and I ended up meeting some great like-minded people. I was introduced to Marie Forleo, a fellow info marketer who has this much talked about product called Productivity Secrets for Creative Entrepreneurs. She brought a friend of hers- Kendra Todd, who if you’ve ever watched Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, she was the 3rd Apprentice to be “hired” to work for him. It was a fascinating conversation. We had a lot in common and knew many of the same people in the information marketing world. It was a really great night to step outside of my home office for once and hang out with other fun entrepreneurs. (Photo- Marie Forleo, Kendra Todd and your’s truly, Shannon M.) I also met Margot Tohn, who is THE woman behind the Park It Guides for New York City. So if ever you’re in the city and need a place to park- her guides are IT – so check them out- http://www.parkitguides.com/

So I would encourage you if ever in doubt about going to an event alone, take the chance, be daring, step out of your comfort zone. I promise you won’t regret who you’ll meet and what might be in store for you in your business and in your life. Go take that chance and be bold! [digg=http://digg.com/people/Hillary_Know_when_to_hold_em_know_when_to_fold_them]