Blog Archives

The Five Star 5 – How Do You Relax?

bigstock-Beach-Dog-48764102

We all get busy running around like crazy, and sometimes forget to kick back and do things that we love to do!

Remember, if an oxygen mask ever popped down on an airplane, you should put yours on first 🙂

You need to take care of yourself before even attempting to help others.

How do you relax and unwind?

For me, I love to:

  • Workout and run
  • Read books
  • Search for rare music videos on YouTube
  • Play recreational hockey
  • Hang out with my family

“Better learn balance. Balance is key.” – Mr. Miyagi

If you need a little more “balance” in your life, why not start today?

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Advertisements

How Bad Do You Want It?

bigstock-Woman-with-question-mark-on-bl-45751951

I spoke at a local Toastmasters Conference over the weekend and had a tremendous time! My discussion focused on the basics of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and how to use the social website “MeetUp” to attract guests to local club meetings.

When my presentation was over, I continued to chat with several attendees.

A couple of people took particular interest in what I was doing online with social media to build my  brand. I recall comments like,

  • “You obviously don’t have kids. How could you do all this other stuff and work full-time?”
  • “What kind of day job do you have?”
  • “How much time do you spend on social media per day”?

They commented on their busy lives, and how utilizing social media to improve their future seemed nearly impossible.

I was getting nervous and was not sure what to say next. My instincts finally kicked in . I proceeded  to say one phrase in a very confident (but non-confrontational) tone,

“How badly do you want it?”

“Actually I do have kids; a seven-year old and a 13 month old. I work full-time out of the house. We are as busy like most families, seemingly running all the time. But I make it all work. I have blogged for two years, spent at least 15 minutes per day building my brand most days over the past 3 years.

I focus on doing my “social media brand building” before the family gets up in the morning, or late at night. If it is on a weekend, I sneak away from them for short periods of time. The only reason I can commit to the crazy hours is that I LOVE WHAT I AM DOING!”

I continued to discuss the “Little Bit Everyday” mantra that I learned from Jeb Blount over at Sales Gravy.

I love the gym analogy. People think that they have to buy a gym membership and workout at least one hour per day to get in shape.  Small chunks of time on a regular basis makes a difference as well. Some days I spend hours on my online presence, others only a few minutes. But I show up ALL THE TIME. You can’t start engaging with social media, get all excited, then disappear for weeks at a time. If I see profiles like that, I am gone!

When that conversation was done, one of the attendees said to me, “I never thought of it like that“!

I am happy the message resonated with them, once I explained balancing  family life, and moving my consulting opportunities forward.

  • How do you balance everything if you are working full-time with a regular “day job”?
  • How much time do you spend daily on social media, blogging and building your brand?
  • What struggles do you face as you try to move your business forward?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this very important topic. Most people are struggling just to get through the day, and it would be nice to share ideas how successful people are able to manage all of their commitments!

My Favourite 5 Posts Of 2013 – #1 “Stop, Look and Listen”

bigstock-Letters-Saying-Stop--45073657

Just before Christmas last year we found out that our wonderful dog Chase had terminal cancer and only had a few weeks to live. Although we were quite upset, he had come through major health issues the previous year so we were not surprised. My wife and I agreed to keep him as long as he was doing fine, and as soon as he showed signs of a drop off, we would put him down.

I tried to play the “he’s just a dog card”, but that did not work. It was a very difficult time when he took a turn for the worst. We scheduled an appointment at the vet the next day. The following afternoon, my whole family was out, so I had a chance to sit with him on our deck.

It was an abnormally mild January day for Northern Alberta, which allowed him one last chance to hang out in the yard that he loved so much. He was not able to chase the squirrels like had had done hundreds of times before, but he was able to lie there as I stayed close.

As I sat with him and shut off the world around me, I stopped everything that I was doing, looked around at the place that he had called home for so many years, and just listened to all the sounds around us. I had not been in that relaxed a state for what seemed like months, and was able to fully disengage from the hustle and bustle of life to be in the moment with him. I became so relaxed that I actually fell asleep with him on the deck for one of the last hours of his life!

I reflected upon this event a few weeks after he had passed, and thought fondly about our time together in the yard taking it all in. We get so wrapped up getting through the day that we don’t take enough time to stop, look and listen. I can’t remember the last time I just sat with Chase in the back yard and hung out. There were always other things happening that seemed more important than just being with him.

Perhaps you may want to:

  • Cut back on your workload to spend more time with family, friends and even pets
  • Reduce your outside commitments so you can have some “me time”
  • Take up a hobby again that you have been unable to keep up with because life got in the way
  • Connect with people that you have not corresponded with in a long time

and…

Stop, look and listen
to everything around you. Take a breath and be thankful for everyone that you hold dear, and focus more on them. You never know how long they will be around for!

Stop, Look and Listen… The Follow Up!

I am still smiling from ear to ear after the great response I received last Thursday from the “Stop, Look and Listen” post! Thanks to everyone who took the time to read it, and a special shout out to those who took the time to comment. In case you missed it, here it is again:

http://bit.ly/12O7zda

I have been “practicing what I have been preaching” on a couple of items and wanted to give you an update:

I recently reached out to an old colleague that I have not spoken to in many years. Our relationship was a little choppy to say the least for a long time and we happily stayed “out of touch” as our careers continued with different organizations. They were happy to re-connect via social media, and vowed to stay in touch going forward.

I also had a face-to-face meeting with an old friend when he visited my city recently. We had not really hung out for the better part of ten years, and it was awesome to see each other again! We were the best of friends in university and stirred up the occasional bit of trouble, so it was nice to sit down and chat. We picked up right where we had left off which is what I expected to happen!

For the above situations, so much time had passed, I was not even sure why we “broke up” in the first place. It is all water under the bridge now. Time to move on.

A third story has been on my mind a lot since last Thursday. I became quite close with a customer of mine many years ago early in my career. We had a lot in common, and loved to talk about hockey every time I visited his store. If memory serves me correctly, we stayed in touch for a bit after I started a new role, but we finally drifted apart and never communicated again.

As my mind drifted during work last week, I finally decided that it was time to take action and reach out to him again after all these years. Within an hour of making that commitment to contact him, I received a very disturbing email. He had passed away suddenly the night before. I was in absolute shock.

– Is it time to reach out to somebody from your past?
– Is it time to leave the “past in the past” and move forward?
– Is the time to do that TODAY?


Things can change in an instant – unfortunately my third story proves that.

Hope I can motivate all of you to take action!

Have You Stopped, Looked And Listened Lately?

Just before Christmas we found out that our wonderful dog Chase had terminal cancer and only had a few weeks to live. Although we were quite upset, he had come through major health issues the previous year so we were not surprised. My wife and I agreed to keep him as long as he was doing fine, and as soon as he showed signs of a drop off, we would put him down.

I tried to play the “he’s just a dog card”, but that did not work. It was a very difficult time when he took a turn for the worst. We scheduled an appointment at the vet the next day. The following afternoon, my whole family was out, so I had a chance to sit with him on our deck.

It was an abnormally mild January day for Northern Alberta, which allowed him one last chance to hang out in the yard that he loved so much. He was not able to chase the squirrels like had had done hundreds of times before, but he was able to lie there as I stayed close.

As I sat with him and shut off the world around me, I stopped everything that I was doing, looked around at the place that he had called home for so many years, and just listened to all the sounds around us. I had not been in that relaxed a state for what seemed like months, and was able to fully disengage from the hustle and bustle of life to be in the moment with him. I became so relaxed that I actually fell asleep with him on the deck for one of the last hours of his life!

I reflected upon this event a few weeks after he had passed, and thought fondly about our time together in the yard taking it all in. We get so wrapped up getting through the day that we don’t take enough time to stop, look and listen. I can’t remember the last time I just sat with Chase in the back yard and hung out. There were always other things happening that seemed more important than just being with him.

Perhaps you may want to:

– Cut back on your workload to spend more time with family, friends and even pets
– Reduce your outside commitments so you can have some “me time”
– Take up a hobby again that you have been unable to keep up with because life got in the way
– Connect with people that you have not corresponded with in a long time

and…

Stop, look and listen to everything around you. Take a breath and be thankful for everyone that you hold dear, and focus more on them. You never know how long they will be around for!

Reality Check – Has Work Become Your Life?

Do you work to live, or live to work? 

I will write it one more time…

Do you work to live, or live to work?

Every time I hear that somebody passed away shortly after they retired, I hope that they took time to really enjoy life along the way. When I am working, I am a loyal hard-working solider. But when I am not, I am enjoying free time with friends and family when possible.

I saw a report on CNN a few years ago, and it gave me a horrible feeling in my stomach. The corporate world has made us believe in many cases that taking holidays shows a sign of weakness. When I hear that an employee has not taken holiday in several years, I always cringe.

This issue continues to get a lot of press, and work life balance has become more important than ever. Work demands and commuting makes our personal time very valuable. I have seen several managers and reps work way too many hours on a regular basis during my career. The question that I always have is…

What steps are you taking to insure that their work does not become your life?

Should it be common to work late at night?

  • At what point do you admit that there are inefficiencies in your work habits, and you need to change how you do your job?
  • Maybe you have too many responsibilities in your current role, and need to sit down with your manager to discuss the toll it is taking on you

There are still managers who subscribe to the theory of “most hours worked wins”, but this line of thinking is slowly going by the wayside.

I hate the saying “they were the first one in the office in the morning, and the last to leave at night”. How do we know that they are working all of that time? With all the distractions online, they may just be goofing off on the internet all day, or having “text-a-thons”.

I sent a group email one night at 10 pm from my home office once, just to tidy up a few odds and ends. I received a complaint the next day from one of my accounts. He asked me not to send correspondence at that time of night. I was a bit confused, so I asked why? He said that his phone vibrated on the night stand, and it woke him up! I forgot that some people are on call 24-7, and sleep with a phone close by.

I met an outside sales rep earlier in my career who told me that her kids had moved out, and she was not in a relationship, so work had taken over her life. She sounded far from excited about it!

I have heard of several organizations where employees never leave the office before their managers, even when they have completed their work for the day. This is one of the dumbest things that I have heard during my career!

Are you guilty of sending late night emails trying to “impress the boss”?  Give your head a shake. This is just silly!

I know several reps and managers who work constantly during their holidays. A good friend of mind was got caught by his wife returning customer’s phone calls from his backyard shed when they were packing for vacation! I still bug him about that, but his wife did not think it was very funny!

I understand there may be the occasional need to communicate with the office when on holidays.  But what does it say about the group that you surround yourself with, when they cannot “survive” for a few days, or even a couple of weeks without you?

I heard of the best “holiday-work compromise” from a rep a few years ago. He and his wife were going on a holiday without their kids. Things were both incredibly busy at work at the time. They agreed to one hour of work each morning at the hotel. But for the rest of the day, they left their cell phones in the room, and enjoyed each other’s company. Another rep was not so fortunate to be able to curb his work to one hour. He and his wife agreed to put his phone in the hotel safe before they left in the morning. That completely reduced his temptation to check every time another email came in!

I reference several European countries for setting the bar high for excellent work life balance. They have much more holiday time on average than most other parts of the world. Most stores and services even close during the day for a bit while the employees rest! How great is that? This is an unrealistic goal in many places including Canada and  the United States, but I believe the message is very powerful. These people definitely work to live and not live to work.

We only live once, and you need to sit down and think about what is really important in your life if this has become an issue. Focus on enjoying your personal life now while still keeping up with work commitments. Obviously everyone’s personal situation is different, and many circumstances come in to play. I get that. I work odd hours to keep up with projects that I am working on via my blog and other forms of social media. But I make it all work.

Health issues, stress and strain on your family life can come in to play due to a heavy workload, among other issues. Don’t fall prey to the vicious cycle of work becoming your life.

  • Do you feel like you are living to work, and not working to live?
    • What changes can you make ASAP in your current role if other priorities are more important?
  • Do you find it challenging to shut down “work mode” and get in to “family mode” when you are on holidays?
    • What steps can you take to make a “holiday-work compromise” as a first step (then eventually phase out work altogether)?
  • If your current situation makes it impossible to work to live and you prefer that, perhaps it is time to make a change!
    • Promise yourself to take one action step today towards making a change, or it will never happen

Powerful Message From Paul Castain – A Lesson From Your Remote

Paul Castain has been a tremendous influence on everything that I have accomplished online to date, and I wanted to share a recent video of his. Who knew that a remote control could provide so many lessons for us?

Paul is passionate about everything that he does, and is one of the best people that I have had the good fortune of coming in contact with over the past two years via social media. I highly recommend that you follow his body of work if you do not already.

His content can be found over at www.yoursalesplaybook.com and you can connect with him in several different places including Twitter (@PaulCastain ).

Enjoy his message.