Saturday, May 17, 2014

ACTION Toolkit Handout

In case you attended my session and did not get a handout or wanted extra copies, 
you can find it here!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Soar to New Heights" District 68 Toastmasters Spring 2014 Conference

Excited to be presenting at the upcoming. "Soar to New Heights" District 68 Toastmasters Spring 2014 Conference! It is an honor to be invited to speak alongside my good friend Steve Maurer and 2007 World Champion of Public Speaking Vikas Jhingran! In delivering one of my keynote presentations "Leadership in ACTION," I hope to learn as much myself as hopefully the audience does! For more information or to register to attend, Click Here. See you there!

Monday, February 17, 2014


The Currency of Time:
You get what you pay for

Have you ever heard the expression, “time is money?” Chances are you have, and that you have an interpretation on what it means. Businessmen and women have used the term in relation to their time being valuable, as to not waste it.

What if I gave you $1,440 dollars a day for the rest of your life to spend or invest however you chose? Would that make a significant impact on your life? How would you spend it? We know that the U.S. Dollar is simply one form of currency in the world today, of which there are many. Currency is not real money as in gold or silver, but a legal representation of it; its value tied to the worth bestowed upon it by the financial system. In other words, it is a only a measured unit of worth.

Now what if I told you that you are given 1,440 units of currency daily to spend on whatever you wish? You are given the currency of time. There are 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in every day, so by my math you have 1,440 minutes every day.

The question is, how are you spending and investing your time? Each person on this planet is given the same 1,440 time-units to spend a day. They cannot be saved, only invested or wasted. Now each of us has to spend some of our time-units everyday on things like sleep, eating, commuting, work, etc. just like paying routine bills. Yet we all know that there are plenty of time-units left over that are used indiscriminately.

Again, at the end of every day the units expire, so they must be exchanged for a usable benefit or spent on a harmful liability. I will use the example of one hour:
·      60 time-units = an hour at the gym to improve your health.
·      60 time-units = an hour with the family to improve your relationships.
·      60 time-units = an hour studying a new course or developing a business plan to improve your future.
·      60 time-units = an hour watching TV.
·      60 time-units = an hour doing nothing (beyond times for rest).
·      60 time-units = an hour arguing with your spouse.

What are you spending your time on? It’s really up to you. You’ve also heard the ancient proverb, “you reap what you sow.” The soil is impartial: plant value, reap value; plant junk, reap junk. Your time-units are no different; what you spend them on they will impartially give you without question. Just like the clerk at the convenience store who doesn’t care if you spend your five dollars on candy, gas, or coffee; he simply takes your money and gives you what you ask for. What are you asking for in trade for your time? Spend it today and everyday on something that matters; something that you will look at years later with investor’s delight, not buyers remorse.

Remember, you can always go out in the market place and get more money, but you can never get more time.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Eating Three Elephants at a Time:

The one-hour project management principle

            There are times when we have one big project at a time, and we attack it singularly with fervor and then move on to the next one. This works great when there aren’t major competing demands, but what about when there are three or five big projects due at the same time? You cannot attack each one at a time, for you will inevitably run out of time prior to their completion. Additionally, if the stress of managing multiple projects at once is not managed, you will do poorly on all of them. As the first tool, I highly suggest the teambuilding principle from last week, yet if you do not have subordinates or work alone, the tool I hand you is one of time management.

The approach is simple: at a minimum, work one hour a day on each project. Depending on the size of the projects and the proximity to the deadlines, you may need to adjust as you see fit, but the principle remains the same; how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you eat three elephants? One bite at a time from each elephant.

This principle can be effectively utilized by event planners, project managers, students studying, or even stay-at-home parents. Obviously it works best when you start the project(s) early, but you can adjust your time increments of focused energy to suit your needs; just as long as you are doing some of each project every day. Let’s look at an example:

Mike is a young office manager who has been asked to complete a major industry study by the end of month, finish the quarterly report by the end of next week, and finish his project management professional (PMP) certification by the end of the quarter. He is married, a father of two, and manages 11 employees. He is 30% complete on his PMP certification, has three employees who are well versed with accounting and finance data, and just took on two interns for the summer.

Since Mike is only 30% complete on his PMP certification, it will be his biggest project regardless of the further deadline so he should potentially devote two hours daily to study. The three employees who can crunch financial numbers well can be assembled in a team to assist with the quarterly budget, and Mike can easily monitor and assist for one hour a day. Finally, the two interns can be tasked with research and data collection for the industry study under the supervision of a more senior employee, leaving Mike to simply ensure the team is prepared (see the teambuilding principle lesson) and proofread the final draft.

Who wins in this example? Everyone. Mike is home after normal work hours to enjoy his family, experiences less stress and fatigue, looks like a rock star to his boss, and grows in his leadership experience. The three “numbers” employees seem to enjoy the opportunity to help with something they are good at and feel valued. The interns get a real project to work on besides shredding paper and getting coffee. Finally, the boss is happy because the workforce is engaged and quality products are turned in, at worst, on time.

Ready to give it a shot? Here are some tips to get started:
·      Evaluate the deadlines and initially rank them accordingly
·      Evaluate the size of the conflicting projects
·      Evaluate the complexity of the projects and the resources needed

Finally, consider the following tips:
·      The more complex the project, the more time needed, or, the more people needed to assist.
·      The shorter the deadline, the greater the amount of focus required.
·      If you have less help, allot more time for focused energy.
·      More is not always better; look to build the appropriate team size for efficiency and span of control.
·      Don’t let simultaneous projects get away from you; regularly monitor your progress.

Now you are ready to be the project master. You will be fully capable of accomplishing single projects without neglecting other duties. You will be able to manage simultaneous projects without feeling overwhelmed. Your boss will love you and your subordinates will want to model you! Now get out there and don’t forget your fork; it takes a lot of small bites to eat three elephants at a time.

Monday, February 3, 2014


 Getting More Done with Less on your Plate:
The Team-building Principle
     Have you ever felt the crushing weight of over tasking from your boss, or experienced the problem of disengaged employees? So have I. The overwhelming feeling of pressure from above, paired with a perceived lack of support from below can cause the lower to mid-level manager to focus mainly on survival and not on thriving.

However, one of the greatest tools I was taught from my superior officers was the mastery of team creation. In short, get the right mix of your employees working almost autonomously with clear direction on a given project, and it will be done before you know it.

Imagine the possibility of effectively handling MORE responsibility (making your boss happy) while actually doing LESS busywork (making you happy) all while providing INCREASED fulfillment and professional development for your people (making them happy).

“How is this possible? You may think, “Won’t this make me look like a task-master overlord or a slacker supervisor?” Not if you follow the prescribed steps below. Teambuilding isn’t about passing the buck or over tasking your employees. By following these 3 steps to effective teambuilding, you will get more done with less on your plate. Are you ready to begin?

·      Assemble the right players
·      Give them a clear task, the required resources, and a deadline
·      Check in periodically, but don’t micromanage

I know you may be initially tempted not to relinquish projects to your people. After all, the task was given to you; it is yours to manage and complete. To strategically give it to your people is risky. What if they mess it up? What will your boss think? Well, the alternative is just as scary: You do everything yourself, get burned out, your people are bored, they never grow, and the whole thing goes down in flames. Remember, any perceived risk involved can be effectively mitigated down to an acceptable level using the expounded strategies below:

1.) When you assemble the team, ensure you have the following:
o   A diverse group of competencies required to complete the mission
o   A diverse group of personalities to ensure fresh perspectives
o   A healthy mix of experienced and inexperienced players to promote future personnel growth while ensuring delivery of a quality product
2.) Ensure the task for the team to accomplish is crystal clear:
o   Clear on what the desired outcome is
o   Clear on when the deadline is and when certain phases are due
o   Clear on what the required resources are and where they can be found
o   Clear on who on the team is responsible for which portion
o   Clear on their ability to check in with you as needed for help

3.) Check in as needed, but allow for some autonomy
o   Don’t micromanage; this conveys lack of confidence in them
o   As you start to gauge their abilities, check in less to build their confidence in themselves
o   Once you have created a reliable team, it can function almost autonomously from project to project

You may be asking yourself, “Does this really work?” And I answer wholeheartedly, “Yes!” I have used this principle numerous times and the results are fantastic. Most of the time, after getting the team moving, I check in on predetermined dates to assess the progress, modify or clarify as needed, and review the final product. What would have taken me days or weeks to complete (if I fell into the pressure of having to do it all myself) I was able to only spend hours on in total. Let’s look at an example of how this works, just in case you are not entirely convinced:

Kristen is the supervisor of the environmental compliance division of a marine engineering firm. The COO has tasked her with completing a multi-phase environmental impact report and presentation for a major client. Being relatively new to the firm, she instinctively knows the value of her senior engineering staff and quickly looks to them for help. Knowing that they will probably not want to do much legwork, she secures their knowledge and supplements the team with two recent college graduates who were hired onto her staff.

After assembling the team at the initial meeting, she informs them of the details, sets the deadline for one week prior to the actual deadline (giving her a chance to review the final product), gives them the required resources, and assigns roles. She pairs each new employee with a senior engineer to combine seasoned technical expertise with raw processing power. Kristen then checks in once a week until the project is complete. The COO is impressed with the final product, the senior engineers respect her management finesse, and the new hires are grateful for the experience opportunity.

Finally, what’s the reward for your teambuilding efforts? You get more done with less on your plate. Your team gets more chances to shine, a greater sense of empowerment, and valuable project management experience. Your boss gets an increased number or quality products being completed by a more capable, engaged workforce; and you made it happen! You really do get more done as a team.