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Why “No” is the Key to Successful Time Management

A portrait of a young woman voting for no over white background

Time Management is critical when it comes to effectively achieving our goals. It becomes an even more powerful tool when it comes to leadership. When we are properly managing our time, we notice that the benefits start rolling in! Decreased stress, increased opportunities and a strong feeling of accomplishment, to name a few!

I have a good friend whom I love dearly.  She is the kindest, sweetest person you’ll ever meet. but she can’t say no.  She’ll start out her day prepared to work on a project, then someone will ask her to do something that is not her responsibility to do, and she will say yes and start doing it.  She becomes derailed from what she started off doing.  Then while she’s doing the second thing someone will ask her to do something else and she will get side-tracked with that.  And so goes her day, trying to please everyone and never actually pleasing anyone.  She comes off as flaky because she says she will do something and doesn’t.  All that action goes on without her ever accomplishing anything, and that time-wasting is costly.

Undoubtedly the cost of time can’t be ignored in situations such as budgeting out projects and tasks, and the more successful a person becomes, the more valuable their time becomes. A shift needs to occur in every leader’s life, from taking every opportunity for experience and goodwill, and instead handpicking the projects and tasks that hold the most weight. This is when the word ‘no’ turns from being a negative and becomes more comparable to a super-power; a definitive positive in every leaders book.

3 Mindsets For Success

1. Perspective

It may not always be easy to say no, especially when getting caught up in other’s created sense of urgency. I’ve found that often, urgency has less to do with immediate needs and more to do with managing expectations.

Saying no puts you in the seat of power when it comes to spending your time. Think back to the many times before when you’ve said yes to others, wasting preciously budgeted time on solving someone else’s problems as opposed to accomplishing YOUR goals. When you say yes to others, you are, in fact, saying no to yourself.

2. Necessity 

Some personalities will have a difficult time saying no, but it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not selfish to say no. Saying no is a necessary part of leadership and time management, and a lesson every successful individual needs to learn. It’s a choice to determine the budget of your time and where to spend it the most wisely. When you are effective at time management, you’ll develop an awareness of the difference between helping others (and budgeting time to do so), and being sidetracked from your goals. Remember, it’s not being mean when you say “no,” rather it’s a choice to say YES to your goals and stick to your plan.

3. Boundaries

Many leaders who haven’t learned the power of “no” still struggle with the establishment of boundaries and will continue to struggle in achieving their goals. Both co-workers and employees alike will develop a greater respect for you when clear boundaries are established.

If you find that your time is being eaten up and you’re struggling to say no, try setting up daily sprint meetings or “huddles” at the beginning or end of the day for the team to get together to ask questions and give updates. Make sure that you’re completely present for those 15 minutes daily, and the rest of the day is blocked off for you to work on your goals! If daily meetings don’t work, we suggest weekly or monthly one-on-ones with your team members.  Think of these meetings as problem prevention or interruption reduction time.  Your people will enjoy the personal attention and mentorship from their leader, and you’ll enjoy the boundaries of an interruption-free workday.

How To Say No

The thought of saying a blunt “NO” seems to make us cringe.  We don’t want to be a jerk, do we?  But we don’t need to be blunt.  Here are a few soft phrases that all mean “no”:

Believe God More

“Our belief in God is not blind faith. Belief is having a firm conviction something is true, not hoping it’s true,” said Max Lucado. Have you looked forward to something for a long time, then when you finally got it, it wasn’t at all what you thought it would be. Did you feel deceived? You had faith in the object, not in the one it came from. Is it any surprise some of us have a hard time trusting God? When bad things happen to good people, we second-guess God’s love for us.

Do you really have faith in God? Believing God is about trusting Him to work even when it doesn’t look like there’s anything happening. There is no middle ground when it comes to believing God – either we operate in fear or faith. If you’ve ever second-guessed a decision you’ve made, you are in like company. Henrietta Mears, the founder of Gospel Light was asked at the end of her life, if you could do anything different with your life, what would it be? She said, “Believe God more.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.”

Believing God’s plan is best is a decision we make, it’s a crisis of the will. We are deceived when we feel we can’t trust God with our situation and don’t believe He can help us. Doubt is the opposite of belief. The only anecdote for unbelief is to accept the truth. Those who believe God can put their faith in Him in any circumstance. We must trust God. That good, or bad, He has best interests in mind for us. How big is your God? Is He big enough to handle all your problems? There is no middle ground when it comes to believing God – either we operate in fear or faith.

As we wait on God’s purpose and plan, it helps to turn our hearts toward God’s plan and quiet our soul with promises from His Word. Psalm 130:5-6 says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and, in His Word, I put my hope.” Once we understand God’s stable character and realize we have power to stand firm in our authority on the finished work of Jesus Christ, we can confidently trust God and depend on His unwavering faithfulness.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:13-15). This process is called embracing our Identity in Christ. In Christ, we are accepted, we are secure, we are significant. Because the blood of Jesus Christ has cancelled the curse, we can let go of our past feelings of shame, blame, unworthiness. This is knowing the truth of what God says about me and acting accordingly.” David Wilkerson says, “Likewise today, some Christians are content to merely exist until they die. They don’t want to risk anything, to believe God, to grow or mature. They refuse to believe his Word and have become hardened in their unbelief. Now they’re living just to die.” Won’t you choose to believe God more? Yes, me too. Let’s do it together. We are better together.

Empower Your Team to be Leaders in 2020

Empowerment is the creation of a motivational climate that releases power, resources and responsibility to each team member to foster maximum engagement, involvement and commitment to achieve the desired results. No matter how ambitious, talented, or self-disciplined you are, at some point it becomes necessary to involve other people in achieving your goals and creating better results.

As you plan for the new year in 2020, consider how you can achieve better results, increase productivity and success by empowering your team to become leaders. Empowerment is the means for accomplishing your goals. Empowerment extends productivity beyond the organisational skill and knowledge of one person. It is the art of enabling others to take action.

Empowerment is an essential building block in win-win interdependent human relationships, regardless of your position and responsibilities. Allow others to make more decisions and they will bring more commitment to any team or department endeavour. Impart a degree of ownership to others and they will become involved in your vision and action plan. This is true in sales, education, hospitality, customer service, management, manufacturing or any other field.

Empowerment allows anyone striving for personal and professional development to develop and move forward. Because it is the essence of true leadership and influence, empowerment achieves results and progress through enhancing the involvement and commitment of others. In the past only leaders were allowed to control information flow and decision making, taking full credit for the results. Today, however, it is widely recognised that all team members can make valuable contributions to the plans and decisions and share in both the responsibility and credit for outcomes.

Empower those who are in the best position to take action by giving them the direction, knowledge, resources and authority they need. Communicate your respect for your team members through delegating some of your traditional authority and power to them. Handled correctly, empowerment multiplies your efforts to accomplish your vision and goals. Empowerment takes many shapes and forms – self-directed work team, asking for ideas, turning over the leadership of meetings, delegation of training responsibilities, flex-time policies, surveys, cross training and other methods that encourage participation, input and feedback. These strategies are just some of the tools for empowerment.

Recognising the expertise of all team members will unleash their creativity. In today’s diverse, internationalised, information culture, top down autocratic control is obsolete. Mutual respect, reasonable delegation of authority, open communication, and mutual commitment to the team and organisational goals are the hallmarks of an effective organisation. Give employees the responsibility to adapt, respond and take advantage of opportunities.

Experimentation and innovation must occur regularly to keep up with any work characterised by customer interface, information or techonology change. Consumers increasingly demand instantaneous service and faultless quality whilst expecting low prices. To address these demands, train your team members in more that just the required procedures. Help them to understand the spirit and purpose of their work. Even temporary workers need information and training to function as empowered, dynamic team members,

Tapping into the existing values and vision of team members is the key to nurturing accountability and commitment of the team. The story is told of a traveler who visited a stone quarry and asked three of the workers what they were doing.

“Can’t you see?” said the first one irritably. “I’m cutting a stone.”

The second replied, “I’m earning a living.”

The third put down his pick and thrust our his chest proudly. “I’m building a cathedral.” he said.

How people view their work makes a significant impact on both short and long term productivity. All workers perform and respond to change best when they are accomplishing work or goals that matter to them. A synergistic, empowered and productive team consists of individuals who view their input as meaningful and significant.

Initiating the process of achievement through empowerment can take longer than imposing an agenda upon others. Strict, top down control fails to fully use the potential of individuals. As a result, team members show only short-lived effectiveness along with little or no responsiveness or adaptability to outside events. In contrast, once people experience the fulfillment that comes through empowerment and involvement they are eager to adapt and make full use of their potential. They recognise the many personal benefits they reap as the organisation succeeds and their responsibility and effectiveness expand through empowerment.

How do you get the most out of your influencer marketing in 2021?

Influencer marketing isn’t new for most organizations. In October, Digital Marketplace reported that the influencer marketing industry is expected to hit 10 billion dollars by the end of 2020. Influencer marketing is growing exponentially. More than 67% of marketers promote content with the help of influencers. The statistics may surprise you. 

In case you’re just starting to learn about influencer marketing, here’s a great place to get an overview on the current state of Influencer Marketing in 2020. 

With so much discussion about influencer marketing,  you’d think everyone is incredibly happy with the results they get from their investment. Over 60% of the marketing people I talk with tell me they are concerned if this is a sustainable trend.

They share how the numbers were so much higher earlier in their influencer marketing campaigns. Many have had at least one bad experience in dealing with influencers. Brands share their inconsistent results.

What I’ve learned as an influencer

I’m an influencer. There I said it, I confess. COVID19 has given organizations an opportunity to mean something more than just being a vendor to clients and customers. We have the chance to provide our clients with a positive partner during this most challenging time. Influencers can provide that positive partnership because they are part of the larger community.

Why does Influencer marketing fail?

Many brands fail to hit their goals using influencer marketing. I’ve been involved with several hundred influencers over the past 5 years. I’ve been involved in small and large events, from 25 to over 30,000 people in attendance.

As a technology influencer for years, I have a confession about technology influencers.  We’re different. For tech brands, things can change very quickly. Many times overnight. Of course, I’m also an influencer or thought leader in digital and channel marketing. I’ve been a Regional President for Microsoft Partners with over several hundred partners here in the Midwest.

I serve as a trusted partner to executives in marketing and business communications. My influence helps organizations have impact.  I’ve never thought of myself as an influencer. My clients certainly didn’t think of me as one either.

What makes your influencer programs work?

But based on my success in influencing people, I know successful influencer marketing programs share three key elements. Miss any one and your program is going to have trouble. Do your influencers:

tell a better brand story? create engaging content? elevate customer relationships? The missing element

There’s a fourth element you won’t find in many articles on influencer marketing. They have a strong leader who can balance creativity with the ability to hit deadlines and drive business results. Sounds like  job for Wonder Woman or Superman. How did your program do?

What would it be worth to get a backstage pass to some of the best influencer programs on the planet? An opportunity to hear how some of the best marketers are leveraging influencer marketing programs to have impact on their best stakeholders, both inside and outside their organization.  Want to be the fly on the wall while the best of the best describe how they do it?

Then I’ve got great news! you can sign up here for a free program on Thursday, October 29th at 1:00 PM EST which is 10:00 AM PST.  Sign up here.

Participating marketing leaders include: Kathleen Reidenbach, Chief Commercial Officer, Kimpton Hotels and Resorts Guillaume Conteville, Senior Vice President of Global Digital Marketing, Mastercard Steve Rummer, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Creative, NBC Universal Zara Mirza, Director of Global Brand, GE Kari Lincks Coonan, Director of Managed Services, AspireIQ Why should you go?

So, here’s the scoop. I’m involved in Reuter’s Strategic Marketing USA on November 5-6. I’m a moderator talking about Influencer Marketing. I want you to be successful in your influencer marketing programs.  I want to give you a chance to see if you like the virtual format of the event risk-free. I’ve been to several recent Reuters events and I really enjoyed the experience.

Sign up for different programs there depending on your needs and budget. I’ll be there both days, moderating two panels. Check back here and on their blogs to see what I learn just in time to help you finalize your marketing plans for 2021. Check out the event on Thursday.  If you think it makes sense, sign up for the larger event the following week. See you later this week on Thursday and next week at the virtual conference.

Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Even When You Are in a Majority Group

The other day I was on a call, and the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion came up. I could feel myself sliding into that uneasy zone where you no longer know whether anyone wants to hear your perspective. To try and break the ice, I half-heartedly joked, “Well no one wants to hear from a white male about diversity.”  A female colleague immediately stopped me and said, “No, you are precisely the group that needs to talk more about diversity.”

I was surprised by her response. I had been sure that the only viewpoints that mattered were voices from diverse groups. My colleague went on to explain that she didn’t need me to share my empathy or support, what she needed to hear was what am I doing, as a leader, to build a more diverse workforce? What are my goals in doing so? Why does diversity matter to me and my organization, and what have I learned?

My friend is right! As members of a majority, let us not offer bromides and flattery. Our empathy rings hollow because there is no true way to understand the minority’s perspective. Yet, as my friend suggests, we can describe what are going to do to move this initiative forward.

Here are some ways to describe what you are doing about diversity, equity, and inclusion in your own leadership efforts and organizationally.

Explain what you have learned. Describe a genuine moment where you have seen things differently and where your perspective has changed for the better. Clarify what changed your mind. The Irish author George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Describe how and why diversity will make your organization better. Every organization will benefit from diverse perspectives. True learning comes in the application of a concept; so, demonstrate commitment by clearly articulating how diversity will improve key areas such as innovation, process flow, customer experience, etc.
Avoid quotas and reputationally-driven goals. A female colleague was once offered a board position and she asked why the invitation had been extended. The president callously said to her, “We need your demographic.”[i]  That is the wrong answer and the wrong perspective. Our mandate is to grow and learn, not to create quotas for perceived reputational benefits.
Describe your personal leadership goals. For example, are you finding that most of your social interactions primarily involve men? How are you changing that? If you oversee a lot of meetings, how are you ensuring that diverse populations have a meaningful way to contribute and share their thoughts? Are you actively acknowledging contributions from minority voices?
Establish your organizational goals. For example, in making hiring decisions does the nod go to the diverse candidate when all other criteria are equal. Does your organization sponsor employee resource groups for minorities? Are you using analytics to examine whether minority populations are properly represented in your pool of high performers? Are diverse voices part of your employee surveys and feedback gathering efforts?

As I reflect on my colleague’s advice, I am grateful for her encouragement. I had felt that I was in a no-win situation, and that no one wanted to hear from me. I still find myself hanging back and letting others voice their perspectives about diversity and inclusion, but now, I am prepared to step in and explain what I am striving to do in this context. I now feel like I can be a part of the conversation.

Prayer for Redemption

Today, Jerry Nichols leads us in a prayer for redemption. Jerry is the Managing Director of SEO Forensic Marketing. He has been a senior executive at Fortune 500 companies with experience in banking, network marketing, business startups, and internet marketing. Jerry is also an experienced educator, trainer, leader and coach.

It is my privilege to be talking with you today in the 40th day of a prayer challenge that is literally changing hearts and minds and, we believe, changing the course of this nation.

I was recently at the prayer march in Washington, D.C. with a good friend of mine. We were there on the Mall and we were listening to Franklin Graham begin to talk about what this was. He said, “This is about prayer and prayer starts with repentance, and it starts with me.”

That was a humbling moment because I thought of myself—and you may be thinking that right now. I get emotional thinking about it.

God calls us to come to Him in humility. That humility begins with that soul searching and that aching to be close to the fire, that pursuit of holiness; not the striving for perfection, because that’s an impossible move or feat for us to accomplish.

But as David said in Psalms 139:23-24:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wickedness, any grievous way in me and lead me and teach me your ways.

I will tell you, that is a sobering prayer. That is sobering Scripture to read. To realize “Search me, O Lord? Search my thoughts even? Everything?”

Of course, I’m not going to measure up, but I can come boldly into the throne room of God Almighty and pray and repent and say, “I accept the blood of Jesus. I am not perfect. I will strive for that ultimate piece of humility, which is simply me confessing my sins and praying my heart out to God.”

That’s what we did on the Mall. And so I’d like to pray with you now. Please join me:


Heavenly Father, Lord, we come to You and we thank You that You are a mighty God, that you are a Redeemer, that your mercy endures forever, that your grace is sufficient for all things.

God, we can come as your children, even though we may be weak and weary; we may be overwhelmed; we may not know what to do next; we may have made some mistakes that we have to confess our sins and make some wrongs right, Lord.

But that’s just part of the course. That’s just part of what You have in mind for us.

God, we ask You to first start with us and we ask for repentance and we ask for forgiveness. You are our Redeemer.

You can redeem anyone, anything, any situation.

God, we ask You to redeem this soul, this heart and, God, of the hearts and minds that are joining me here today, we ask for the same thing.

We ask for this nation, Lord, that as we pray, and this world, as we pray, that we are changed and that the kingdom of God is advanced. In Jesus’s name.Amen.

God bless and take care.

Teams That Perform Part II

As we can see, there are predictable stages that people or teams navigate when their world changes. Key among them is resistance. This is often THE toughest obstacle to overcome on the path to newness.

As change happens, tune in to what kind of resistance you may be encountering. Is it fear of an unknown? Could it be victimhood rearing its head? Might it be just plain anger over having to do things differently? Is it directed at you as the personification of change?

Tips to deal with the resistance stage include: Encourage people to express thoughts & feelings, listen carefully to what is said and what is not said, proactively engage them in the process without waiting for them to acknowledge it, carefully identify what people may be losing and discuss how their role will be impacted by the changes taking place.

Leadership Virtues We Can All ApplyThese seven virtues were originally in the poem, Psychomachia, by Aurelius. They have been adapted for our purposes.

1.Kindness – placing the desire to help others above the need to supersede them

2.Temperance – the desire to be healthy, therefore making one fit to serve others

3.Charity – placing the desire to help others above focusing exclusively on one’s self interest

4.Self-control – managing emotional energy and leveraging that energy for the good of others

5.Humility – removing one’s ego and therefore allowing the attitude of service

6.Diligence – being both present and engaged with those around us and walking in their shoes

Honoring Veterans on Veterans Day

Everyone should know that Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen who have fought in foreign wars. It is always celebrated on November 11. This is because World War I (the war to end all wars) unofficially ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. In 1938, congress declared the anniversary of this date as a federal holiday. So, every November 11, we Americans take the day to honor those living and dead military who served in battle.

That’s the official lesson. However, I believe this video does a much better job of demonstrating the importance of our veterans. Army Sargent Rob Cestrino had been deployed overseas for an entire year. When he returned, he surprised his son, Luca during one of his taekwondo classes.

Joe’s Perspective: This son’s joy is indescribable. It’s undoubtedly a mixture of excitement to see his dad and relief that he actually made it home alive. I ask you to think about how hard it is on that family to have a family member absent for an entire year – the stress, the burden, the sacrifice. So, on this Veteran’s Day, please thank a veteran that you know and/or reflect on the sacrifices that our military endures for you.

Your Turn: Do you have a family member or a friend who served in wartime? If so, please tell us how you thank them for their service?

A Beautiful Story of Serving and Thanksgiving

This week we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day here in the USA. Though the date changes year to year, my entire life Thanksgiving Day has fallen just after my birthday, which makes it an even greater season of reflection for me. 

A few years ago I shared a story about sitting in a Starbucks and observing an interaction between two men. One was middle-aged and the other quite elderly and feeble. The two men entered the coffee shop together, with the younger man firmly grasping the belt of the older, ensuring the elderly gentleman didn’t fall. Watching the duo order coffee and shuffle over to sit down stirred my curiosity and compassion, so of course (having never met a stranger) I went over to introduce myself. 

As it turned out, the younger man was not related to the older man, nor was he employed to assist him. He was simply a friend who knew this dear gentleman wasn’t able to get out much, so had taken it upon himself to take his friend out for coffee every so often so he wouldn’t be completely shut off from the world.

As I reflect on this story and also on the story of my life, I can’t help but feel thankful. I am thankful that in the story of the two men at Starbucks, I could be either man. 

Looking back on my life, I am filled with gratitude that the path I have chosen is one of cherishing relationships. Granted, I haven’t always been the best friend, colleague, employee, boss, son, brother, husband, father, etc.—far from it—but I have tried, and I can sincerely and truthfully say that I’ve done my best to show love, compassion, and generosity to the many, many people in my life. So in this way, I see in myself a little bit of the younger man, and I am thankful. 

I also am deeply thankful that I have many, many people in my life who I know care for me in return. No matter my self-deprecating humor and poking fun at this “old man” that I’ve become, I know that if it was Dan Nielsen needing a helping hand and firm hold to steady my failing legs, someone would be there. So in this way, I see in myself a little bit of the older man, and I am thankful.

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