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Traction by Gino Wickman

SUMMARY: HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 5 star.

This book is a MUST HAVE for business leaders. As a business coach and trainer, I often recommend it to most of my business owners and leaders. Those who are starting a business to those in larger organizations find it helpful. While it can take a while to “get into it” for the non-reading leader… an audiobook is a great option. I do recommend having the paper book as well, however. Even if you are not a reader, you want to study and learn about Traction. This is MUCH MORE than a book – it is a business process and system. Also, this concept has much more supporting it than just “one” book. There are many resources to support implementing “traction” in your organization and even “traction” coaches…. Start with the book and see if you like the concept. I think you will.

This book is one of the few business books that talk about HOW to run the nuts and bolts of your business. It covers some of the areas where many businesses blow off a critical part of business operating (i.e. team meetings and planning). The difference is, this is not meeting for the sake of meeting or planning for the sake of a dusty business plan, these are practical and highly implementable steps that will truly support your business to get TRACTION (as the title says). Just the one-page business plan is a priceless improvement for many businesses to stay on track and move forward vs. in a circle. Also, I should note some business are not going in circles, but many get distracted watching what everyone else is doing and forget what their core focus was. The traction system will help you stay centered on who you are, your vision, mission, market and target.  It organizes the process in six key components (referenced as EOS = Entrepreneurial Operating System) for any but especially small business:

  • Vision. Where are you going?
  • People. Your team is critical and developing and retaining a great team is critical for your success.
  • Data. Scorecards, dashboards, measurable – how do you tell if you are making progress or not?
  • Issues. Most people do not like conflict but issues unaddressed derail business.
  • Process. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Consistency rules and ensures solid performance.
  • Traction®. Discipline and accountability to execute well.

Even if you only apply some of the principles, businesses and leaders who have read and implemented this book or any part of it have been better off for it. Those who have their entire leadership team read it and work to study, discuss and design their business around it do even better. This book will give you the framework for HOW. Coaching helps as you are working to brainstorm YOUR vision, process, etc. but the nuts and bolts and structure are well outlined in this book.

Beyond this, Gino has a blog and group to connect with others using the traction model. And another great book is Rocket Fuel:  The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Tour Business.  This is the next book by Gino for leaders to read. He also has assessments for you to determine if you are the visionary or integrator at http://blastoff.rocketfuelnow.com/quiz/

Other resources: http://www.eosworldwide.com/  or   http://www.rocketfuelnow.com/

There are many videos to help learn more and dig deeper. Again, MANY of my business leaders find this concept supportive and central to their new way of operating. Start with reading the book…

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

The Non-Designers Design Book by Robin Williams

SUMMARY: HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Love this book. It is very digestible for any person. Copyright 2004… so might seem dated, but in 2016 I still find it filled with ongoing relevant tips.  Plus, it highlights rules people are still breaking from the 80’s and 90’s (like the use of Times New Roman font).

I would highly recommend this book for Jr High, High School and College blooming professionals to get a baseline for how to create a current look for documents and materials (i.e. letterhead, business card, etc.)  I would HIGHLY recommend for those who have worked in education and the nonprofit world for years ( an inexpensive way to make sure you are updated), as well as ALL administrative professionals. General business leaders and independent business owners should also read it. Why? Those creating documents often default to very old “word publishing” rules which are outdated. Leaders sometimes correct or do not appreciate strong graphics because they too are used to the traditional.

When you have a basic understanding of graphics and design you will make better choices, be able to proof and approve documents faster, know what you want and know what to ask for. Another reason, most professional need to put graphics on a page at some point, in a Powerpoint, document, etc. I have seen so many graphics stretched or miss-sized on professional documents… when it could look clean and sharp if the person creating the document had just a few of these basic guiding principles. This is a very practical book and very easy to read, even for the non-book reader.  It is more of a resource book that you spend some time learning from. Even if the average professional spent 10 minutes a day reviewing some of these tips and suggestions, you would be taking yourself through a self-guided basic design class.  Again, this is helpful not only for those creating the document but those asking and approving it.

What I love about this book is not only does it tell you what NOT to do and WHAT to do… but it gives examples of both so you can see the before and after. It is filled with don’t do and try this, examples.  It even has little quizzes to test your learning.  This is extremely helpful because most people just do not understand what to change. I have seen this in resumes, flyers, business cards, postcards, ads, etc. There are so many communication pieces the average professional is likely to make over the course of their career. Do yourself a favor and just review this book and give yourself some knowledge of the design trade and improve your results.  Usually, people do not realize when their pieces are not communicating. They blame it on the busy and distracted reader, when really in design – good design, communication and marketing is read by the reader.

The book even has a helpful index to reference things easily. It has a font guide. It covers many topics from form, layout to different types of media (websites, print, etc.). Again, it covers so many things very simply. It is not complex or deep designer speak. It is a fantastic resource for anyone who uses the computer for more than social media.

I will note, my book is falling apart – half of the first chunk of pages came unglued from the spine… so the publishing quality could be better; however, drill some holes and stick it in a binder for reference for your team. It is one everyone in the office should digest. Plus, it will save the one to two people in the office who have design sense the burden of constantly arguing about why look, feel and layout is important. This could be a great book for designers to give their business clients, for leaders to give to their team, for the marketing or communication department to read and share.

Thank you, Robin, for taking the time to break Design into simple keys for the rest of us to understand some basics!

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

Stop Procrastinating

MomentumAs you harness your energy, budget your time, say no, get a hobby, etc. you will begin to see a shift in how much time you have. We cannot make more time, only use what we have most efficiently and effectively. You cannot be on all the time, so planning for breaks and scheduling for a maximum of 12 hours of "things" a day is key.

When you know what you want to do, are clear on how to get there, you have ½ the battle won. The only part that is left is the momentum to get into action and then accomplishing what has been laid out. There is where some people procrastinate. There are 100's of ways people do this, from straightening, playing computer games, talking, distracting themselves, etc.

The best way to get into motion is just to start.

  • Make your to do list the night before, so your mind can subconsciously process it all night.
  • "Eat your frog" first (the most important thing you have to do; do it before anything else).
  • Notice when you start procrastinating; write the "strategy" you used on a procrastination list that you have pinned up in a noticeable spot. (naming your tactics will help you stop them quicker)
  • Make a game. Determine either a reward or a punishment if you get X task done in X amount of time.
  • Make yourself accountable. Let someone else know what you will get done by when, and send it to them, work on it the same time as them, etc.

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

Recharging With Downtime

Siesta Key Beach sunset 3Many people feel so busy they feel they just don't have time for a day off. So they keep working hard, day after day. Motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, encourages people to take a FULL day off where they do not think about work at all. The benefit of this allows your brain to rest and recharge. You will be more productive after time off than if you keep trying to push it.

I is good to not only take a day off, but engage in a fun hobby or downtime activity. When people take time to do their hobbies, they are even more energized, fulfilled and motivated to work hard. There is a new energy and life when people are doing things that they are passionate about and love. They seem to work faster in the job so they can be awarded with a little spare time for a prized hobby.

  • Decide what day you can take off 100%. (This will not be perfect, but aim for this).
  • Clear your calendar; tell people you are booked (appointment with yourself or family) and only put personal things on that day.
  • Determine a hobby that you would like to do that you really enjoy. Often this is something that you have not done in years (play instrument, woodworking, etc.) Dust off the old tools and use that skill.
  • Make time to do this hobby at least 2 hours a week.
  • Watch how your energy is renewed.

How often do you take a full day off? How long has it been since you had a hobby?

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

Collaborate For Win-Win Situations

compassionA small business owner often thinks he has to “do it all.” He may say, ”I AM my business, who else can help with this?” However, you can outsource just about anything, for a price. Many people do this for technical things (web development, printing, etc.) but try to fight through the marketing, selling, development, administration and accounting, etc.

You cannot be good at everything! Even if you work in a specialized field, there are probably things you are not so good at and that cause you to waste a lot of time. Consider how you can partner with people around you to create win-win situations.

  • Consider what is on your plate.
  • Rate on a scale from 1-5 what you are great at versus what you don't like and takes you a lot of time
  • Brainstorm how you could collaborate with someone else to get this done. Think outside "buying" assistance, consider how to make win-win situations.

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

The Power of Saying “NO”

I say NOWe are in a season where activities and demands are picking up. There are more schedules to manage and pulls on our time. In general, we want to be helpful and accommodating to people. Therefore we hate to say "NO". People often do anything to avoid this word. We will avoid people, redirect conversations, make excuses, be non-committal or simply say "YES" to things we know we will have a hard time following through on. The reality is we simply cannot do everything. When we keep saying "YES" to things we are adding on "stuff" to our "plate" which causes overwhelm, stress and frustration. Even though we would like to answer "YES" to everything, we must learn how to say "NO" in order to have a peaceful life which exhibits quality, balance and basic sanity.

How do you do it? When you say “YES” to a new activity, you have to say “NO” to remove something else that is already on your full plate. Here is how:

  1. Be clear on your priorities and what is important. If you are not clear, you will not have a compelling reason to say "NO" when you feel drawn to accept a new item on your plate. Try to strike a balance with the "Essential 8": family, friends, work, health, budgeting, fun, physical space (home, office, car), and personal growth (spiritual, educational, personal development). i.e. #1 Family. I will spend 5 hours a day taking care of my family and making sure they get their needs met. #2 Work. I will spend 8 hours a day working on projects that produce an income of $5000/mo. so I can provide the best for my family, etc.
  2. Set filters for each of your Essential 8 areas. You want to have your Essential 8 listed by priority and set a filter for each (take the purpose/goal for each area and then be clear on what fits and what does not). Take special note of the proportion each area is getting. If priority #1 is family, #2 is work, #3 is health and you have 100% work commitments and no family time or personal care several things will happen. Your health will suffer which will then jeopardize your physical ability to complete those tasks and your family will interrupt and demand superhuman feats for you to squeeze their needs onto your already full plate. These filters will help you discern what things you need to say "NO" in order to maintain balance.
  3. Evaluate what is on your plate. Considering each of the Essential 8 areas and your priorities, determine what your "needs" are. "Should's" need to move to one side of the fence. Do you need it or not? Consider your balance so you have some big projects (meat), some personal care (veggie), some daily necessities (good grain/filler), and a hobby/fun thing (dessert). These are the things to which you are saying "YES!"
  4. Say "NO" to the things that do not meet your filters. These may be the least important things on your list OR new things that come up in your life. Remember whenever you say "YES" you are saying "NO" to something. If you say "YES" to a weekend project at work, you are saying "NO" to your family time that weekend. You may not have to tell your family "NO" but that will be the result. If you say "YES" to volunteer at the evening carnival you are saying "NO" to your workout – which could result in your being more tired and lethargic and therefore less productive the next day.

When you say "NO" you have more power to say "YES" to what is important.  Remember "NO" can mean never, it can also mean, "no, not right now".  Let yourself have some space to do what is important. You will experience the power of balance and boundaries which will result in you being more effective and productive. You will enjoy less stress and more peace with your life.

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

Time Estimating Your To Do List

What to doMany of us make to-do lists. Usually, they are long and filled with a variety of tasks. Not only is it essential to prioritize the list of items, but also estimate how much time each task will take. Often when you do this, you find you have two days worth of to-dos on your list. One thing that zaps our energy is feeling overwhelmed and getting distracted. When you have long to do lists that are not even reasonable to accomplish, often much less gets done.

If you take your list, budget how much time important tasks will take, you can then plan them into your day better. If you have a 10-minute task, you can plan that for a 15 minute downtime period. If you don’t do this, people usually take 10 minutes just to figure out what they are going to do and then they only have 5 minutes left to do something, which is not enough time, so then nothing gets done (or they start a project and are stressed and then late for the next appointment.)

It also helps you to plan your day to see that you need 2 hours of blocked time to "eat your frog" (the #1 most important to do). This way you can plan your day to get that big thing off your plate. I guarantee when you get the weight of a large project off your back first thing in the morning, you will be supercharged and excited for the rest of your day. Then knowing what you will do, how long it will take you and "budgeting" when you will do it, creates a clear focus and drive for you to accomplish many more things in your day.

In order to put this into practice:

  • Take your prioritized list of to-dos and write behind each how much time each will take (pad with extra time not less)
  • Look at your schedule for the day and plan when you will do which tasks. If you have a large task, see how you can break it down into parts that fit into your day.
  • Write specifically what you will do on the calendar. (i.e. budget 1 hour to write a newsletter. Have a 15 minute opening in the AM; plan to write the intro to the newsletter.)

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

Tackle the Important and Stop the Urgent

The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People_by_Stephen_R_CoveyStephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that one of the traps of ineffective people is getting caught in doing the urgent rather than the important. Bottom-line this is reacting to life rather than responding.  While urgent things will come up, they seem to happen more when you are not planning. Eventually everything will become a crisis. STOP.

When you care for the important you will have less urgent things to deal with. There will always be truly urgent things, but these are called emergencies, not daily urgent tasks. Make a list and determine what is important for you to do to move forward with your business (or life). What do you need to do in order to accomplish these goals? This is what is important.

It often seems like it will not matter if important things get done today or tomorrow and therefore often are perpetually put off until they become urgent. It is similar to the bad habit many of us had in school with reading. The teacher gives us what is important to read each week. Students are busy and do not read what is important and then a few days before the test when there are 200 pages of reading, the assignment now becomes urgent. Thus the cycle begins as we create urgent tasks that would not be urgent if we did the important things we need to do each day.

In order to break this cycle, it is important to :

  • Recognize the cycle and how much time you spend reacting to the urgent.
  • List what you are trying to accomplish (your goal)
  • Decide what is important to do today to reach that goal.
  • Determine what is important this week to reach that goal.
  • Highlight these things on your to-do list.
  • Block one hour in your day to do the important tasks.
  • Force yourself to do the important today and watch how the overflow of urgent tasks decrease off your plate

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

 

Prioritize: Empty Your Full Plate!

Eat That Frog!Brian Tracey has a great book, Eat That Frog. This book is awesome for illustrating the basic concept of prioritizing. In order for you to get your plate empty you will have to stop and assess what is the most important thing for you to get done. Our to-do lists do not usually include unimportant things to do. Everything is important. (The urgent things don't even make the list, they just take up time so we don't even get to the lists). Then, when we just start chipping away at to do lists, we often eat desert first. We do what feels good but is not really most essential to our performance.

Tracy's concept is whatever is the most important thing you need to get done, do it first; this is your frog. Do it before you do anything else (including urgent things – unless it is a real emergency). Your frog is the #1 thing on your to do list. As you get that done, you will have more energy for everything else on your list and will be able to accomplish more in your day besides having greater results as you take care of the most important things first.

Action:

  • Make a "to do" list nightly.
  • Prioritize the list.
  • The #1 item is your frog. Compete it before you do any other projects.
  • Make it your goal to do the complete the next 5 top priorities before moving on to anything else on the list.

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com

Your Winning Season!

  • TrophyAre you winning your game?
  • Are you playing at peak performance?
  • Do you feel like you are sometimes on the court, but more often on the bench, in the bleachers, or (even worse) at the concession stands?

There is a concept called “pattern language” which means taking language and concepts that are already familiar to you and applying them in a new environment, to quickly and effectively communicate a new concept or message. The Coachville, LLC/Your Winning Season coaching company is using the pattern language of sports in such a way that it will dramatically improve your results in business and in life.

Dave Buck, CEO of Your Winning Season, says:  “In my 10 years as a professional coach I have noticed that most people—even those who seem to be successful on the surface—have an awkward feeling that they are falling behind in reaching their goals. Every day, no matter how long or how hard you work, the to-do list just gets longer. It’s like being on a losing team in a season that never ends! By using sports pattern language and seeing yourself as the player-coach of a highly visible sports team, you can dramatically improve your results AND your level of fulfillment.”

When you approach life like you do the preparation for a winning season in sports, you are clearer, focused and prepared to win the games, and ultimately the season. Coachville/Your Winning Season coaching company teaches seven keys to have a winning season in your life and business so you can play your season with CLARITY, FOCUS and a STRATEGY to WIN!

To start thinking as the player-coach of your own game, ask yourself the following:

  1. WHAT IS MY GAME? In life we do play a game. Your game is what you are focused on, what you want to win. Maybe your game is an aspiration to be a professional speaker, maybe it is earning a certain income, or maybe it is something else. When you know exactly what game you are playing, you have the CLARITY that is needed in order to really play full out, excel to the next level, and win. Write down the game you are playing and that you intend to win this year. As noted playwright Wilson Mizner said, "In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept destructive criticism. Without 100% dedication, you won't be able to do this.”
  2. WHY ARE YOU PLAYING? Answering this question gives you the focus you need to compel and motivate you to work hard. No athlete is going to spend the time and energy without a clear purpose! Why are you playing? What is it that you want to accomplish by playing this game?
  3. ARE YOU WINNING? If yes, great! Keep doing what you are doing. If not, what is happening? Assess and design your strategy for a winning season. For example, an athlete might say “we are losing because we don't have enough players,” “we are weak,” or “we are not as skilled as the competitor.” But, what is it for you? Write down three things that will be critical for you to start doing so that you can win the games and have a winning season (e.g., more training, team development, networking, more focus/discipline). What will it take for you to be competitive in the game, playing hard and pushing for the win? How can you play full out?

This is just the beginning of designing your winning season, but it is an important beginning because every game starts with:

  • CLARITY – the specific game that you are playing,
  • FOCUS – the reason why you are playing, and
  • STRATEGY – the things you need to do to stay in the game.

Wayne Gretzky said, "We miss 100% of the shots we don't take." Take your shot: if you pick a game, focus on what it takes and work your strategy, you will score. So, know your game, focus and plan, and enjoy a winning season this year!

Keep Charging & Shine!
Christy Geiger, Executive/Leadership Coach, www.synergystrategies.com