2 Tools That Will Improve your Effectiveness as a Marketer

Every year I try to learn something new – be it a skill, a tool or just some facts. 2018 has been a time of great learning, thanks to my daughter, I wanted to share two tools that I’ve learned about from her and since put to good use for myself and customers.

  • Canva, as my primary online visual design tool – from making Twitter or web post headers, webinar announcements to trifold brochures and even eBook cover design, this has been an amazing tool where every day I’m discovering more. Here are some examples

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Tableau as my data visualization tool has similarly been a much used for not just number crunching, but being able to create excellent visualizations as well as insights that aren’t always self-evident from staring at the data in Excel.
    Here are two examples

Visualization of Girls Toilets Availability


The kicker is, both of them are available online, easy-to-use and you can get started for free. They also have great online communities that can help you get up the learning curve fast. So give them a spin today and share your own favorite tools in the comments.

Startup Founder Secret #2

StopwatchOne of the challenges in getting advice – even when we agree with it – is figuring out how in the heck are we going to find time to follow it. As an entrepreneur or founder, you’ve got enough and more on your plate – so while it’s great to hear you should meditate, how do you squeeze it into your insane calendar (you do have one don’t you?)

This is a secret that I learned from Stephanie Winston, organizing guru from her book The Organized Executive.  In three words it is

Meetings with yourself

Notice, when you have a meeting with a customer or prospect, a candidate you are trying to hire (or in some cases when a critical person is threatening to leave) you drop everything else to take that meeting. Look around you – your day is probably filled with meetings – product reviews, vendor negotiations. In fact if your day is anything like a typical founder’s day – meetings are the only thing that seem non-negotiable and you have to fit in your other tasks in to little time chunks between meetings. So rather than let this get you down, start by marking meetings on your calendar, with just one attendee – YOU!

This is a great way to get that blog post written, contract reviewed or to even meditate. It most importantly prevents you from using this time to take other meetings. So start now, and mark your calendar up for the next two weeks – or if you want to be bolder for two months – with a daily 20 minute meeting with yourself to meditate, or twice weekly to blog or fortnightly for date night with your significant other. Let me know how it works.


If you liked this article, sign up below to receive a short update once a week on tools and techniques for staying healthy, being more productive and building habits for success.

 

The Secret to Preventing Email Wars at Your Startup

ConflictWhether a startup or a large corporation, email has become just a fact of our work lives, it’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t so. Email useful as it is, however seems to create as many problems as it addresses. Beyond the chain letters and phishing emails or spam, flame wars conducted over email is probably the biggest cause of productivity loss, in both large and small companies.

Most back-and-forth email stinkers or flame wars are preventable and many times seem downright silly or petty. Yet they seem to pop up all over the place with near-despairing regularity. Flame wars, particularly between colleagues, is a huge emotional sink, sapping productivity and motivation. This is even truer when the parties involved are in the same office. It is to overcome these that we’ve formulated a simple rule – yep 1 single rule to prevent email flame wars.

The No 3rd email rule Simply put this rule states, if one person has sent an email (#1) and a second person has responded (#2) and it’s clear that they are not agreeing, or not happy – there should be no 3rd email sent. Instead the two parties should talk in person (sometimes this only requires swivelling in one’s chair) or pick up the phone, if not in the same office.

Think about it – most email flaming starts due to one of two reasons:

  • public questioning, accusation or challenge (real or perceived) by usually the sender
  • outright misunderstanding by one party (usually the reader)

In the former case, the recipient responds either defensively, or attacks the sender, as they perceive themselves or their work being undermined or attacked. This may or may not have been the intent of the sender. In the latter, regardless of the sender’s intent, the recipient misunderstands either what is being said or why it is being said (or at times to whom it is being said or copied to) and leads to misunderstanding and grief.

Regardless of who started it, their intent and what was being actually said, the No 3rd email rule works excellently by stopping the electronic conversation, which would at this stage usually deteriorate into accusations, counter accusations and fingerpointing. The beauty of this rule is it is independent of who wields the organizational power between the sender and the recipient and nips the blooming potential conflict in the proverbial bud.

Like all good rules, it’s simple to state and understand, a little bit harder to practice. We are still working on it. What are you waiting for?

“This week” – the secret to managing your time well

to do list

“Honey, can you make the insurance payment? ” my wife would ask me.

“Sure dear, I’ll take care of it,” I’d respond.

Early in our marriage there were often fireworks due to such seemingly innocuous conversations between my wife and I. It took me a while to figure that my wife meant, “Can you get the insurance paid NOW!” And it galled her no end, that my response meant, that I’d get it done one of these days.

Fortunately for us, we arrived at a compromise that all such conversations, especially ones where I needed to get something done, meant I’ll get it done that WEEK! Twenty years on, we are still on talking terms largely due to this one agreement.

Each year, as I work on new projects and often with new team members, I learn a thing or two about managing my time better – even if it’s only what not to do. From my early Franklin planning days of the early ‘80s through the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People all the way through Getting Things Done and Wunderlist, I’ve tried my share of tools and methods to be more productive and get more of the right stuff done in less time. Truth is that it’s still a work in progress and I continue to struggle with procrastination.

As the parent of two teen girls, child of an aging, recently widowed parent, as a slightly overweight middle-aged man trying to get in shape, the operational head of a non-profit and spouse of a professional musician, my to-do list is overflowing. Even when it’s incomplete.

If you are like me, your to-do lists are ambitious – maybe more hopeful than practical. The very act of opening them is daunting. But we still put too much for a day on ‘em. It finally dawned on me to apply the lesson I’ve learned in making commitments to my wife. Seek balance over a week – and not try the impossible of trying to achieve it each day.

Plan your to-do list for a week. Yep – not just for the day. The reality is some days you’re going to get only one thing done, if that. On other days you’re going to be on fire. By keeping your to-do horizon to be a week, rather than the day—things will be a whole lot less stressful. Sure the first week you’ll over commit, but very soon you’ll get the knack of it.

Now say after me, “I’ll get it done sometime this week!” 

Enhanced by Zemanta