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Why Your College Degree is Only the Beginning.

Why Your College Degree is Only the Beginning.

You have a 4-year college degree.  You’ve got a good job working for a company.  You are ascending the corporate ladder.  You think your future looks bright.

Think again.

Here is an inconvenient truth.  Your college degree is only the beginning. If you are to be successful in this new and changing economy, you must continue learning new things for the rest of your life.  And…you’re on your own.

Our modern Colleges and Universities are busy educating students to work at a job for some type of organization.  What happens to you if those jobs are no longer there.

There are two trends under way right now that pose huge challenges to almost every worker in the U. S. Economy.

 

Number 1: The Rise of Robots and Technology

 

The current political mantra peddled in the media today is that globalization and foreign trade are causing huge losses in the U. S. Job market.

It isn’t true.

Yes, the U. S. Economy lost manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010.  But, studies reveal that 87% of those job losses were due to improvements in productivity generated by technology.  ( http://ow.ly/IQTn30cMTh1 )

It gets worse.  According to Futurist, Thomas Frey, (  http://ow.ly/Ax3z30cOxnM  ), there are 2 billion (yes, that’s Billion) jobs disappearing by the year 2030. That represents 50% of all the jobs on the planet.  To be done by robots and new software technology.

 

Number 2: The Rise of Freelancers

 

According to Forbes Magazine ( http://ow.ly/zGDB30cOxQi  ) there are 53,000,000 freelancers in the U. S. Labor force today.  By 2020, 50% of the labor force will be freelancers.  50%!

Even big companies like IBM and NASA are starting to do this today.( http://ow.ly/pNev30cWysR)

 

Does this mean we’ll all be unemployed?

 

No!  And this is not meant to be a doomsday report.  But, it is intended to be a wake-up call.  Almost every job holder in America is going to be affected by these trends. Knowing what’s coming gives you an opportunity to be prepared. Fore warned is fore armed.

 

Here is the good news.

 

First, Robots will not replace everyone.  There will still be plenty of jobs for humans, but they are going to change.

According to a report published by the Pew Research Center (http://ow.ly/poHm30cOz7R ), there is an argument that, “many jobs require uniquely human characteristics such as empathy, creativity, judgment, or critical thinking—and that jobs of this nature will never succumb to widespread automation.”

This is where the new jobs will come from.  Those jobs don’t exist today. And…the chances are they will be taken by Freelancers.  I believe Freelancing is the career of the future.

 

How do I do That?

 

Yes, I know the idea of becoming a Freelancer can be frightening.  The first time I went out on my own it was 1983. I was totally unprepared emotionally.  I panicked when I realized I was no longer getting a paycheck.  The project didn’t go well at all. I eventually went back to working for a big company.

Today it’s different.  If you educate yourself and prepare emotionally, you should be fine. Our economy is rapidly becoming a “gig” economy.  That means you will be working from one gig to the next.

You should start by educating yourself.

 

The Advantages of Lifelong Learning.

 

Let’s start with what you are doing now.  I am going to assume you like the job and industry you are in.  You have spent years learning about it and you are good at what you do.

What are the aspects of your job or industry segment that could be automated? Think about all the repetitive grunt work that could be done by a robot or a computer software program. Think hard about the people that could be replaced. Get wild with it.

Now, what are the aspects of your job that need human contact? What about judgment?  Listening to customers, clients, or other departments?  Deciding how to improve the computer programs?  What about creativity?  Thinking up new ways for the software programs to accomplish new things? Consulting with companies on picking the latest technology to use?

How many people could be displaced?

Make a list.

Start reading!

Go to the Library. Use databases at the library to find research papers.

Go to Amazon. Get books.

Google trade magazines, white papers, and case studies.

Find MOOCs (Massive, Open, On-line, Courses) in your field and take them.

You have to become the expert in how companies in your industry are going to employ the latest technology.  Because when the changes start to come, it won’t be just the company you are working for now.  It will be every company in your industry.  If you are a Freelancer, you can hire out to lots of them.  At a very good price.

And…you can’t stop.  Freelancers have to be involved in lifelong learning.  You have to stay ahead of the curve.  You have to keep reading, keep thinking, keep interacting with other Freelancers in your field.

It is estimated now that the entire body of human knowledge is doubling every 13 months ( http://ow.ly/Tg6J30cWD7v ).  IBM estimates that in the near future, this doubling will occur every 12 minutes.

 

It’s All up to you

 

Here is your challenge.  It’s up to you. You have to do this on your own.

You must start today.  If you wait, you’ll be one of those out on the street wondering what the hell happened.

You can’t go to school for this. Our education system is woefully behind on these issues.  They don’t have classes for jobs that don’t exist today. Creating those classes could be your one of your jobs.

There are huge opportunities here.  If you start now, think now, read books and papers now, develop ideas now, you’ll be the one getting the well-paid gigs.

It’s a race.  And to the victor belongs the spoils.

 

Social Styles 5-Learning About the Amiable

Social Styles 5-Learning About the Amiable

Why are Social styles important?

 

In my previous posts on Social Styles, I have stressed the importance of understanding these styles.  Your ability to communicate with these different styles of people will make a huge difference in the profits at your bottom line.

Today, I want to discuss the last of the 4 Social Styles, the Amiable.

 

What is the Amiable Social Style?

 

Amiable are, well…amiable.  They are very people and question oriented. They are easy to get along with.  They are friendly listeners who enjoy personal contact.  They place a high priority on getting along with others.

 

Amiable have soft, pleasant voices.  Their speech is slow.  They have open and eager facial expressions.

 

They take time to establish relationships. They believe progress comes from people working together.  They like to make progress at a slow, steady pace.

 

Their natural tendencies are coaching and counseling.

 

Their motivators are seeking approval, being included as part of a group or team, and having a positive impact on others.

 

Amiables have much in common with Analyticals and Expressives, but are diametrically opposed to Drivers.

 

What does the dialogue of an Amiable sound like?

 

Remember that Amiables are ask directed.  This means you will need to ask a lot of questions.  You have to be patient.  Amiables want to build relationships first. They may not seem concerned with the time spent or deadlines.

 

Here are some other things you can expect:

  1. They want you to show them personal support.
  2. Give plenty of verbal and non-verbal feedback.
  3. They are interested in questions relating to long-term goals.
  4. They may suggest you talk to others. If they do, follow up. Not doing so may kill the relationship
  5. They want assurance as to who you are and what you believe
  6. You are expected to be open and honest
  7. You will need to sell yourself to an Amiable before they make any decision

 

How do you approach an Amiable?

 

The good news here is Amiables are easy to approach.  They are very open and friendly.

Here are several ways to approach an Amiable:

  1. Be relaxed and patient
  2. Make small talk
  3. Ask questions about their personal goals.
  4. Keep a slow, steady pace. Remember people come first.
  5. Don’t try to promote your agenda as revolutionary. Amiables like things with a proven foundation.
  6. Don’t rush your close. Let them come to their own conclusion.

 

In Conclusion.

 

The main take away from this brief outline of the 4 social styles is the need for you to learn to be flexible.  Remember Stephen Covey.  “First seek to understand, then be understood.”  Seek to understand the way your prospect communicates with the world. You will then open the door to show your prospect how you can fulfill his needs.

 

What I have presented in these posts has been the barest of outlines of these Social Styles.  To learn much, much more, I strongly urge you to click on the link below to buy Larry Wilson’s terrific book.

(Full disclosure.  I am a Powell’s Affiliate)

 

 

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
Social Styles 4-Learning About the Analytical

Social Styles 4-Learning About the Analytical

Why are Social styles important?

 

This is the 4th post in the series on Social Styles.  In my previous posts,  we discussed how essential understanding these styles is to building trust with prospects, customers, clients, employees, and partners.  Your success depends on these relationships.

Today I want to discuss the Analytical Social Style.

 

What is the Analytical Social Style?

 

The Analytical Social style is the most easily described and may be the most misunderstood of all the styles.  Think of a scientist, an engineer, or an accountant.

 

Analyticals are totally task focused and will ask a lot of questions.  They are fact gatherers and number crunchers.  They want to make sure they have all the information before they make a decision.  This tendency sometimes makes them seem indecisive because there is always more to know.

 

They are reserved. Their speech is proper, formal and deliberate.  They make few gestures.  They are good listeners.

 

They take the time to develop personal relationships.

 

They are excellent planners and organizers.

 

Analytical tend to move slowly and with precision. They tend to think the process of reaching a decision is as important as the decision itself.

 

Their goals are making the right decision in the right way. They want to enhance their reputation as a technical expert.

 

If you try to move them too quickly, it will make them very uncomfortable and may damage the relationship.

 

Analyticals have much in common with Drivers and Amiables. As you can see from the grid, they are diametrically opposed to Expressives.

 

What is dialogue with an  Analytical like?

 

Analyticals love slow, orderly, fact-filled presentations.  Here’s what you can expect:

  1. They expect you to be prepared
  2. Ask detailed fact-oriented questions
  3. Stay focused on the topic
  4. They want flexibility. Give them time to consider alternatives to what you present.
  5. Give them facts supported by data.
  6. Listen carefully and take notes. Give them time to finish and ask follow up questions.
  7. Offer confirmation of what you bring to the relationship.

 

How do you approach an Analytical?

 

Approaching an Analytical may seem difficult as they often appear remote.  But,  doing a little homework will smooth the way.

  1. Do some research before you go. Find out as much about their situation as you can.
  2. Don’t engage in a lot of small talk in the beginning.
  3. Adopt a predictable, slow, task oriented approach
  4. When you make a proposal, try to make sure it aligns with their current belief
  5. Support your proposals with a lot of facts and figures.  The more data the better.
  6. Try to state your opinions in the form of a question, “What are your thoughts about X?”

 

In Conclusion

 

As business owners, you will be dealing with all these Social Styles.  Understanding the ways to engage them will deliver amazing results in the form of profits on your bottom line.

 

Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)

 

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles are important because?

In my two previous posts ( http://ow.ly/Zfpn30bKoSK ) (http://ow.ly/1HcK30bYKwv)  we have discussed the importance of understanding social styles.  If you are engaged in business learning to successfully communicate with your employees, prospects, customers and clients is the key to your success.   Knowing your social style and the attributes of the other social styles is vital in building solid relationships.

Today, I want to discuss the Expressive style.

What is the Expressive Style?

 

Expressives are…expressive.  They are open, energetic, excited.  They love to share visions and ideas.  They love to talk about themselves. They like an audience and applause.  They love to tell people what to do.  They are people oriented rather than task.

 

They are risk-takers, competitive, creative and enthusiastic.  They love to get results through people. Relationships are very important to them. They love the exchange of ideas and want to get to know you personally.

 

Their primary motivation is recognition.  They want to stand out from the crowd

 

Expressives want to know the big picture. They want a good grasp of the situation before getting down to the details.  They want to know the essential details, but don’t care about getting too deep into them. They want to collaborate with you on things that support them.

 

Expressives have much in common with Drivers and Amiables. They are diametrically opposed to Analyticals.

What is dialogue with an Expressive like?

 

Here’s what you can expect when engaging with an Expressive.

  1. You should find out about their visions and how they expect you to help.
  2. Find out what other people need to be involved in accomplishing their vision.
  3. Expressives are usually very open about sharing information they think you need.
  4. They like a fast paced, focused discussion.
  5. They are casual about their use of time.
  6. Watch for openings in the conversation where you can slide in questions.
  7. Figure out a way to show support for their ideas and decisions.

 

What is the most effective approach to an Expressive?

 

When approaching Expressives, you need to quickly establish who you are, what you offer, and what they have to gain by working with you.

 

Other things to include are:

  1. Stories about people you both know.
  2. Share “exclusive” information
  3. Reinforce their vision and enthusiasm
  4. Take time to develop a personal relationship
  5. Leave time for socializing
  6. Talk about their goals and ideas they find stimulating.

 

 

In Conclusion

 

Learning how to effectively communicate with other social styles is a simple, yet amazing way to build trusting, solid relationships with your clients. Try it.  You’ll be stunned at the results.

 

Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
Social Styles 2-Learning About the Director

Social Styles 2-Learning About the Director

Why are Social Styles important?

 

In my previous post ( http://ow.ly/Zfpn30bKoSK ), I discussed the 4 social styles people use to communicate with each other.  We all fall into one of these styles. People in some of these styles communicate easily with one another, yet others can’t seem to communicate at all.

 

Why is it important to know these approaches?

 

Want to build meaningful relationships with your prospects, clients, and customers? Then you need to understand these styles.  More important, you need to be flexible in the way you approach people of different styles.

One thing I want to emphasize here. This is not about being manipulative in any way.  It is about learning how others engage the world.  Remember Dr. Stephen Covey’s famous dictum, “First seek to understand and then be understood.”

Today I want to discuss the social style known as the “Director”

 

What is the Directors style?

 

Directors are take charge people.  They are very task oriented and laser-focused on results. They also tend to tell people what to do and not ask a lot of questions.

Drivers have strong opinions, they are direct and to the point.  They love challenges.  They are very likely to correct, challenge, modify or add to others ideas.

Drivers tend to be impatient.  They want results quickly or at least have a well defined time line.

Relationships are secondary to Drivers.  They want to see the task defined and the plan to achieve it first.

Details are important to Drivers, but they are not much interested in every little nuance.  They do want to make sure every possibility has been covered.

Directors have much in common with Analyticals and Expressives, but are diametrically opposed to Amiables.

 

What is dialogue with a Driver like?

 

First conversations with a person are known as the dialogue stage.  This is where you will discover a person’s Social Style.  Here is what you can expect when first engaging with a Driver:

  1. They expect you to be task oriented.
  2. They want to make efficient use of their time. Keep up the pace.
  3. Ask fact-finding questions that will help you understand their priorities.
  4. They want to learn about you and how you might fit into their business. Don’t wander off into personal discussions.
  5. They want to know how your ideas can support their agenda. Remember, they want to be in control.
  6. They will let you know they want to make the final decision. They want to know the odds of success.
  7. Follow up immediately with any requests or additional information you agreed to supply.

 

How should you approach the director?

 

Approaching the Director requires a bit of a balancing act.  You need to be direct.  Don’t wander.  Yet, you need to take time to build trust as this is very important to a Director.

Other areas to include are:

  1. Be sure include a purpose statement at the beginning. Let them know why you are meeting.
  2. Focus on the Director’s ideas, goals, and interests
  3. Present facts that apply directly to them. Focus on benefits.
  4. Be prepared to provide lots of information.
  5. Don’t engage in small talk.
  6. Include a payoff statement. Let them know what you intend to accomplish in your meeting.

 

In Conclusion

 

As a small business owner, one of your greatest challenges is building relationships with your prospects, clients, and customers.  Understanding your social style and theirs will help you accomplish this with amazing ease.  I urge you to find out as much as you can about this subject by reading Larry Wilson’s great book “The Social Styles Handbook”. 

Just click on the following link (Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate):

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com

Note: This blog was developed from information presented in  “The Social Styles Handbook”.

 

The Stunningly Simple Secret Part 2

The Stunningly Simple Secret Part 2

Busy or effective.  Which one are you?  Did you know it’s possible to do away with almost 80% of your to do list?

Here is a myth about being self-employed.  You start a business.  You work 80 hours a week to build it up.  In 5 years or so, you are a roaring success.

In my last post (http://successfulcm.com/2017/04/28/stunning-simple-secret-improves-productivity/) we discussed how you can choose the hours you want to work, and then use the 80/20 rule to accomplish the 20% of important activities to produce 80% of your results.

 

But what about the rest of the pile?

In this post, I’ll discuss ways you can take the other 80% of your To-Do pile and dump it, delegate it, or delay it.

What Can I Dump?

The first thing to do is to look at your pile and pick out the problem areas wasting a lot of your time.

Remember the 80/20 rule works in all kinds of ways.

Who are the 20% of customers, clients, or prospects causing 80% of your headaches?  How much do they contribute to your bottom line?  My experience is the ones who constantly complain about stuff many times are just trying to shift the blame for their own flaws.  Fire them.  You are better off without them.

You don’t have to be nasty about it.  I have said to clients, “I’m sorry.  I think I’ve done all I know how to do for you.  You’ll be much better off finding someone else who can (fill in the blank)”

If it’s a prospect, you can say, “I’m sorry.  I just don’t think I’m the right person for you.”

I think one of the most wonderful things about being self-employed is the ability to choose the people you want to work with.  Helping others to solve their problems or achieve their goals should be a joyful experience.  If it’s not.  Move on.

What are the time wasters?

  • Email- Probably the #1 time killer.  I’d be willing to bet you 95% of the mail in your inbox is crap.  Get rid of it.  If an email does not relate to getting you business somehow, delete it.  If you get irrelevant emails from the same sender more than once, assign the sender to your junk or spam file.Only look at email twice a day.  Pick the times.  I review once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Outside of those times, I turn the email completely off. Those emails that are business related should be answered within 24 hours. Keep your emails focused.  Stick to one subject if possible.  Answer it and move on.

There is one caveat here.  If you are emailing a customer, client or prospect about a specific subject and you find you are trading 3, 4, or 5 emails to no result, pick up the phone and call.

  • Phone calls. Turn off your phone during the day.  No…your business will not suffer.  Put a voicemail greeting on your phone that says, “Sorry I am not available to take your call.  Please leave a message.”   If someone won’t leave a message, they are not interested in doing business with you.  That said, here is the caveat.  I call it the “Sunset Rule.”  All calls received before 4 PM should be returned by sunset the same day.  Even if you don’t have an answer for the caller you are telling them you received their call, they are important to you, and you will contact them again when you have an answer for them.  If you are getting more calls than you can handle on an issue, you may want to consider delegating.
  • Meetings. There are two kinds of meetings. One on one meetings with a prospect or client to discuss projects or work in progress.  These are OK.  You should build an agenda for the meeting.  Publish it ahead of time.  Stay focused.  Try to hold the meeting to an hour.  The other kind of meeting is a committee meeting, general discussion, exploration, presentations, pitch sessions, etc.  Avoid these like the plague.  Nothing is ever accomplished here.  One of my favorite quotes is from the humorist Dave Barry, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’”

Delegate

If you are a one-person shop, the way I am, this gets a little more challenging.  You have decided how many hours a week you want to work.  You have chosen the most important things to focus on. You have dumped everything you can.  There’s still stuff left. Now what?

One thing you can do is hire a virtual assistant.  Sources for virtual assistants can be found online.  Be very careful here.  The tendency is to hire a virtual assistant and then simply dump on them everything you don’t want to do.  This is a recipe for disaster.  You would be wise to eliminate the activity completely before you delegate it.

A virtual assistant should be treated as any other employee.  Interview them for compatibility.  Pick a specific function you want them to do. Train them how to do it.  Then turn them loose.

Let’s take the example from the previous paragraph.  You are getting a ton of phone calls on a specific subject. Imagine you are a consultant.  You have offered a free half-hour of your time to discuss a certain issue.  People are calling to book an appointment.

Train your virtual assistant on how to answer questions about the half-hour session. Give them the hours and dates you are available.  Have a separate phone number for booking the appointments. Google Voice is great for this. Turn them loose.  Inspect the results daily at first, then weekly.

You can also delegate out to contract workers and/or freelancers.  Again, you must be careful to confine this to specific functions with clearly defined procedures and goals.

Delay

Finally, there is delay.  This is really a default tactic.  There is stuff in your pile that isn’t part of the 20% getting you 80% of your results.  You can’t (or won’t) dump it.  Now what?

Delay it.  Actually, what I mean by this is ignore it.  Most of the time, this junk will just melt away on its own.  If there’s something in there that must be done, it will rise to assume crisis proportions.

In Conclusion

The idea here is to use your work time to be effective.  Focus on only those things that produce results.  Let the rest go.  This isn’t always easy.  Those things outside of the 20% of effort producing 80% of the results will sap your energy and distract you from the important. The inconvenient truth is you’ll never get it all done.  There’s always one more thing getting added to the list.  Focus on the 20%, Dump, Delegate, or Delay the rest.  You’ll be surprised how much you get done and how good you feel.

Stunning Simple Secret Improves Your Productivity!

Stunning Simple Secret Improves Your Productivity!

Getting it all done when you’re the only one there can be frightening. How can you improve your productivity?  Using Pareto’s simple 80/20 rule can cut your work week in half

You wanted freedom.  You wanted to do something you loved. And…you wanted to get paid for it.  So you went into business for yourself.

Now you have this huge list of stuff that needs to be accomplished to get your business off the ground.  How are you going to do it?

Is one of the reasons you went into business for yourself is you were tired of 50 to 60+ hour weeks working for someone else?  Are you now worried all you’ve done is buy yourself another job?

The ugly truth is unless you take control, you’ll never get it all done.

What is The 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 rule was originally proposed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896.  It simply states 20% of the causes generate 80% of the effects.

I’m sure you’ve heard this in one form or another.  For instance, “80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers.”

What this means to you is 20% of your effort will generate 80% of your results.  Now you have to figure out which tasks constitute the 20%

Pretty straightforward, right?

But Wait…There’s More

It turns out there’s one additional thing you need to know.  It’s called the law of diminishing returns.  Here’s what it means.

If 20% of your actions deliver 80% of your results, you are getting a 4 to 1 return on your effort.

If you increase your effort (more tasks) to 23% you should drive your result to 92%, right?Chances are it won’t.

The law of diminishing returns states for every added effort, you will receive an ever decreasing result.

So, increasing your effort by 3% might only yield a 5% increase in results.  Another 3% on top of that might yield another 3%.  Keep on that path and you will get to the point where no matter what you add in effort, you won’t get any better results. And…you may never get to 100%

A Radical New Concept

Here’s a radical new concept for you.  Choose how many hours a week you want to work.

Yup, you heard me.  Instead of attacking the entire pile of stuff you think you have to do and whacking away until it’s done, choose how many hours a week you want to work.

Got it?

Here’s your new goal.  Look at your huge pile of stuff to be done.  Remember 20% of the stuff in that pile will generate 80% of results.  Look at each task in the pile and ask if it is part of the 20%. Estimate how long it will take to complete it.  Put it on the list for this week.   

Keep this up, until your weekly hours are filled.

Then resort the tasks in order of importance and put them on your calendar.  Be aware, you don’t want more than 2 mission critical items on the calendar in any one day.

Now focus on each task in order.  Work on it and it alone until it is done or your progress is halted by some outside event.

What Happens to All the Rest?

Everything else in your gigantic to do pile can either be Delayed, Delegated, or Dumped.

This will be the subject of the next blog in the series.

In Conclusion

You will be amazed at how productive you become.  You have to be brutal in your application of the sorting process. Knowing you have only so much time to complete mission critical items forces you to work on those items most important to your success.  Plus you will have the added benefit of creating more free time to do stuff you enjoy.

PS.  This concept and many others are more fully discussed in Tim Ferris’ wonderful book “The 4 Hour Work Week”  I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is running a small business.  You can order a copy of this book by clicking on the link below.  (Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)

Are Brain Damage & Multitasking Linked?

Are Brain Damage & Multitasking Linked?

As small business owners we face many demands  on our time every day.  Struggling to increase efficiency, we often resort to a practice called “multitasking”.   This term means doing two things at once.  Today, we often hear about highly successful people who are great multitaskers.  Here is the blunt truth. It is physically impossible for your brain to do two things at once.  In fact, recent research shows the effort to do so may cause brain damage.

Just what is Multitasking?

It turns out the term “multitasking” came from computer engineers.  When the first computer microprocessors came along, they had a single core.  That core could only do one thing at a time.  Just like our brains.  If asked to do more than one thing, the single core had to rotate tasks, which it could do at high speeds.  Then came multi-core processors.  If a microprocessor had two (or more) cores, each could still only process one thing, but they could do it at the same time.  Hence the term “multitasking” was born.

Doesn’t my brain have more than one part?

Yes it does.  And, it turns out there is one exception to my statement above that your brain can’t do two things at once.  That exception is you can do two things at once as long as you engage different parts of the brain at the same time.  The best example of this is reading while you are listening to instrumental music.  The parts of the brain that process speech and instrumental music are different. Listen to music with lyrics, and your reading comprehension takes a nose dive.  Why? Your brain can’t process two sources of speech at the same time.

So I can Multitask!

No.  When you work on something, such as reading email, you are engaging in what psychologists call a cognitive function.  This means the pre-frontal cortex of your brain focuses on doing one thing.  Just like the single core processor, that’s all your pre-frontal cortex can do.  When you try to multitask, what actually happens is your brain is “task switching”.  Turning off one task and turning on another.

But I can switch tasks really fast!

You just think you can.  A 2009 study at Stanford University (http://news.stanford.edu/2009/08/24/multitask-research-study-082409/) showed multitasking decreases attention span, and memory control.  And… the higher the number of tasks those subjects tried to juggle the worse they got.

What happens when you task switch is your productivity decreases.  How much?  The generally accepted number is up to 40%. So it actually takes you longer to complete a single task.

Even worse, a University of Sussex study (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/uos-bsr092314.php) showed multitaskers suffered from a loss of grey matter in certain areas of the brain. In short…brain damage.

Other studies have shown multitasking leads to increased stress, loss of sleep, increased impulsivity, and decreased ability to pay attention. In addition, your inability to focus on a single task makes it more likely you’ll make a mistake.

So, how am I supposed to get all this stuff done?

There is a simple answer.  Slow down.

No kidding.  If you just slow down, and work on one thing at a time you’ll get it done better and faster.  Now when I say work on one thing, I mean to the exclusion of every thing else.  Turn off your cell phone, or at least put it on vibrate and hide it in a drawer.  Shut down your email. Close your internet browser. Turn off your iPad. Now finish one single task.

The surprising thing is by doing this, you will actually wind up getting more done in a day and with better results.

Here are some other tips

1.  Do your best to plan your day in batches.  Block out time (s) to answer email, then close it down.  Put your phone on do not disturb, then answer all calls around the same time each day.  Only allow yourself to surf the net at a certain time each day unless it involves research for a project.  You get the idea.  It won’t always work, but a little planning goes a long way.

2.  Get enough sleep.  Go to bed at the same time each night.  Reading for pleasure at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep relaxes your mind. Now you’ll get to sleep easier and quicker.  Get up at the same time each morning.

3.  Meditate.  This does not involve hours spent contemplating your navel.  Even 15 or 20 minutes, done at the same time every day, sharpens your ability to focus.  It also improves learning ability and memory.

In Conclusion

The ability to multitask is in fact a myth.  Further, multitasking is an addictive habit that is bad for your mental and physical health. If you are a multitasker, I encourage you to stop now.  I did. And…I can tell you I think more clearly, feel better,  and get more done in a day than I ever did when I multitasked.

3 SEO Realities to Be Aware of in 2016 – business.com

3 SEO Realities to Be Aware of in 2016 – business.com

 

business.com

I’ve seen numerous business owners remain skeptical about that fact that search engine optimization (SEO) can be easy. The lifeblood of any online business is not just content, but the complete strategy one puts in, with SEO being a top priority. I’ve worked with a handful of bloggers and online business owners who underestimate the power and resources required for an SEO campaign.

Here are a few things that you always need to keep up with when it comes to implementing the right SEO strategy

Via business.com

What are the 6 Simple steps to success?

What are the 6 Simple steps to success?

We all want to be successful. Volumes have been written on the subject.  Courses and Seminars abound on the subject.  Yet the amazing truth is there is a simple 6 step formula anyone can follow that leads to success in any endeavor.

Here they are:

  1. Know where you are.
  2. Know where you want to go.
  3. Take action
  4. Evaluate the results.
  5. Adjust the action taken in light of the feedback obtained in step 4
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 until you achieve success.

“Oh come on!” I hear you say.  “It can’t be that easy.”

Wait…I didn’t say it was easy.  I just said it was simple.

Let’s break it down.

Steps 1 and 2

I think steps 1 and 2 should be taken together.  And…not necessarily in order.

In my experience, most people choose “Know where you want to go” first. This your goal.  It can be big or small, business or personal, but this is what you want. It’s the reason for going through this whole process.  If you are doing this for the first time, I suggest you choose a small goal to try the process out to prove it works.   

Go ahead.  Pick a goal.  Now.

Got it?

Write it down.

Before we leave this step, let’s make sure we know what success looks like.   

You should state your goal in the positive as if it were already achieved.  It should have a completion date.  It should be very specific.  So specific that if I called you on the completion date and asked you, “Did you achieve the goal?” your answer could only be “Yes” or “No”.

Let’s say you wanted to learn how to fly.  Your goal could be, “By December 31st of this year, I have obtained my private pilots license.”

Now, let’s go back to step one: Know where you are.

Knowing where you are is the starting point.  Once you can compare that to where you want to go, then the action steps will begin to appear.

Where are you?  Let’s develop a list based on the goal of learning to fly.

1.  Where do you live?  Where is the nearest airport that has an FBO (Fixed Base Operator) where you can learn how to fly?

2.  How old are you?  You must be 17 to get a private pilots license.  There is no upper age limit as long as you can pass the physical.

3.  Are you physically fit? You have to get a 3rd class medical certificate from an FAA Certified Flight Surgeon.  This is usually not an issue as long as you do not have a physical condition that would prevent you from safely operating an aircraft.

4.  Do you have the time to devote to obtaining your license?  Time is an issue.  You must have at least 40 hours of flight time.  However most students need more to become proficient enough to pass the test.  Figure at least 60 hours to be sure.  Plus, there is travel time to the airfield, and ground school.  There is also study time on your own.  You will probably spend 3 hours studying for every hour of flight time.  Total study time…180 hours.

5.  Do you have the financial resources to accomplish your goal?  This is the big one.  Here is a break down of what you can expect:*

  • Aircraft Rental.  60 hours in a  Cessna 150 at $90/hour.  $5,400.
  • Instructor.  40 hours at $45/hour.  $1,800
  • Materials and Exam fees. $600.
  • Flight Test Aircraft Rental.  $135
  • Aircraft Renters Insurance.  $350.  (You need this.  You don’t want to be responsible for a $30,000 airplane if you make a bad landing)
  • Grand Total?  $8,285

*Note:  These rates are estimates and will vary based on aircraft type, fuel cost, local instructor rates, and area of the country.

I want to pause just a moment to apologize.  If you have no interest in learning how to fly, this list is boring you to tears. I went through it for a reason.  Your goal can be fuzzy.  If you’ve never done it before, you can’t know all the components of achieving it. But, you must be completely honest with yourself about where you are now!  Failing to do this may doom you from the start.

Steps 3 and 4

Step 3 is take action.  Now we are getting somewhere.

Let’s go back to learning how to fly.

The first logical action step would be to call the FBO at the nearby airfield you found and ask about flight instruction.  Most FBO’s offer an introductory flight, either for free or a reasonable cost.  On this flight, you will spend an hour in the air with a flight instructor, learning a few basic maneuvers to see if this is for you.

Action step #1:  You go take the flight.

Step 4.  Evaluate the results.

Did you enjoy it?  Or, were you motion sick and on the verge of vomiting most of the time?

If you were motion sick, then you may decide this is not for you.  If so, you can abandon this goal, and save yourself a lot of time and money.

Let’s say you loved it.  You are so excited you can’t wait to get back in the air again.

Step 5

Step 5 is to adjust your actions based on the evaluation of the action taken in step 4.

You loved the flight.  You like the instructor and feel you can learn a lot from him or her.

Based on that, your next step is to sign up for the course.

Step 6

Step 6 is to keep repeating steps 3, 4, and 5 until you are successful.

I have a couple of points here:

1.  You don’t need to plan too far in advance.  If you were accurate in your self assessment in steps 1 & 2, action steps will appear in natural order.  If you plan too far in advance, you risk losing the flexibility to adjust when things go wrong.

2.  Keep it simple.  As humans, our minds try to make things complicated and constantly look for trouble.  The key is to focus on what you want. Obstacles will appear. When they do, ask yourself the magic question, “How can I (insert here the obstacle you want to overcome).

Going back to learning how to fly:

  • Action Step: Get the training manuals and start studying
  • Evaluation:  You find the material interesting and not too difficult.
  • Action Step: Take the ground school test.
  • Action Step: Start flying with instructor- learn basic maneuvers.
  • Evaluation:  Some maneuvers are easy, some are more difficult.
  • Action step:  More practice on the difficult maneuvers.

And So?

You can’t fail.  Yes, things will go wrong.  Yes, you will make mistakes.  But every mishap, every mistake, gives you feedback you can use to adjust your next action.  Keep going, and you will succeed.  The only way you can fail is by quitting.

Remember, Thomas Edison ran more than 10,000 experiments before he found the material to use for the filament in the incandescent light bulb.  That’s persistence.

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