Jessica Wicks

Creative living: making space for your genius

Apr
09

It’s easy to fill every spare moment of your life with items on your to-do list, yet never really accomplish anything at all.

The reason this happens is that most of the tasks we engage in on a daily basis provide only a temporary relief. For instance, checking your email and responding to all of your social media notifications may help you to achieve that all-powerful inbox zero status for a few minutes, but once the next ping comes in on your phone you have to start the process all over again. You will never ‘finish’ email or social media.

Your personal life is also full of the same types of recurring tasks, from laundry to grocery shopping to mowing the lawn. Cars will need regular fill-ups and oil changes, cell phone bills will always need to be paid again next month. No matter how accomplished you may feel when you check off a number of boxes on your list, you’re really just treading water until that checkbox returns to be completed once again.

Even client work, which allows you to provide value to a business or individual with ever-changing goals, only temporarily gives you satisfaction and pads your bank account. Next week or next month, new client work will need to take its place on your to-do list.

Would it be nice if you could hire some of these tasks out or find systems to make them easier to accomplish? Of course. This post is not about productivity hacks, but please do try some should you feel the desire. You should be warned, however, that chances are you will fill all that saved time back up with new busy work.

Instead, I propose making space in your life for a different type of task. The kind of work that will allow you to create a legacy that outlives this week, this year, and perhaps even this decade.

You need to make space for your genius.

Scared yet?

The idea of having to produce something genius-worthy is certainly daunting. Especially when you know all of the other projects and tasks you need to work on just to keep your life from imploding.

For those of you saying you couldn’t possibly make the time, I challenge you to start with something minor – like mowing your grass every two weeks instead of every weekend or checking social media twice a day instead of four times – and commit those precious saved minutes and hours toward your genius-level work.

You might be wondering what to do with this time when you’ve carved it out in your schedule. How exactly can you find the important work, the projects that you can’t wait to get back to… in essence, find your passion? The answer is surprisingly simple. It is nothing.

Whether you have found an hour a day or just 20 minutes a week, sit still and create nothing. Be disciplined in your nothingness. Do not do ANYTHING. Do not do ‘research’. Do not read blog posts or watch videos for inspiration. Please, for all that you hold dear, do not attend a webinar that will teach you how to find your next big idea. Sit in the slightly uncomfortable blank space you’ve made for yourself and think until the magic of an idea arrives.

Truth be told, you’ll probably either have too many ideas or none at all. The real challenge is not allowing yourself to take action until you’ve found an idea that won’t leave you alone. No checklists or brainstorms. No pros and cons. Just white space until something worth creating comes along.

The idea may be something small and easy, like writing a blog post. It may be complex, like creating a new niche in your industry. You never know what will show up or when, but when it hits you want to act fast. Never sit on your idea for too long.

Use your blank space for that one idea and that one idea alone until you complete the project or decide it’s not worth your time any longer, at which point you go back to the quiet space and wait for a new idea to come along. Do not allow your blank space become the time that you use to produce recurring work (like your weekly newsletter). If you get a newsletter idea that won’t leave you alone, go for it! But make sure you have other time in your schedule for ongoing tasks. The newsletter you write during genius time should be outstanding. If it’s not, put the idea aside for later and keep waiting for a better idea to come along.

The point of this space in your calendar is not to create a large body of work, although over time you probably will. The point is to give yourself space to be completely and uninhibitedly creative – something sorely lacking in most people’s world after they graduate from preschool.

What have you really got to lose? Even if you sit without an idea for a few weeks, or spend a few months creating something you decide not to take to market, your life will mostly be the same (aside from the grass blades being a little taller than normal). But just imagine for a moment that you find an idea for a book or a software application that you decide to pursue. What if you re-imagine the way your service is delivered? Picture finding the driving force to learn a new skill set because you just HAVE to produce this idea. Would that be worth the sacrifice?

You have a choice here. No one will force you to find the time and discipline to create something new. You can continue on with life as usual and hope you find that spark along your way, or you can purposely make time for your genius to visit and experience the pure magic that is the excited passion of a creative pursuit. The planet will certainly survive without whatever you might have brought to life, but maybe, just maybe, the ideas that you see through will change someone’s world for the better.

 

The three customer types you need to know

Feb
14

Instead of trying to sell to EVERYONE, think about simplifying your marketing messages to these three customer types. We’re not talking target markets, segmentation, or buyer personas. We’re talking broad strokes.

Customers who already buy from you.

That’s right, you need to keep on communicating and marketing to your existing customers. You may have heard the phrase “It’s easier to keep a customer than to get a new one.” Well, it’s not only easier, it’s cheaper too.

Here’s the thing: your competition is constantly trying to steal your market share away from you. They may be directly targeting your customers, or they might be more broadly targeting customer profiles that happen to include them. The truth is, your customers need help making the decision to keep buying from you. They need to feel connected and like your product or service is a better value for them.

Depending on what you sell, your existing clients may return to purchase from you regularly or they may just make one-time buys. What can you do to leverage that relationship and get them to buy additional products or services that they need?

Customers who buy a similar product or service from your competitors.

Now that you have a firm grasp on your own customers, it’s time to start thinking about getting some to switch from a competitor.

Here’s why: you know they want something you’re selling, and that they are already willing to pay for it.

Getting customers to switch can be tricky. You have to position your own product or service to be superior enough that they are willing to go through any pain or hassle involved in switching.

This means you have to understand what they currently believe about your business and your competitor. You need to understand and address any reservations they may have.

Potential customers who aren’t buying yet.

These are the people who have a pain that you can solve but haven’t taken the leap to buying from you yet. Generally, we call them leads. It’s important to remember that this is a specific group of people. We’re still not marketing to EVERYONE.

There is a specific process that people go through in making a purchase decision, so you may need to develop messages for people throughout this process:

  1. Needs recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluations of alternatives
  4. Purchasing
  5. Post-purchase behaviours

Identify what you can do to help them through each of the stages.

Apply your customer avatars and target market segmentations to the three customer types.

If you’ve already defined your customers through creating an ideal customer profile or segmenting with demographics, you can sort those groups into one of the three customer types to decide what you need to say to those customers.

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Aug
16

You might think that the solution to your less-than-stellar sales is to offer a promotion, discount, bundle or freebie. And that is OK. Seriously, I know I could get on my soapbox and proclaim that all discounts and sales are bad, but they aren’t – when part of a complete marketing strategy (see how I threw that in there?). The biggest problem with price promotions is that they can be the lazy solution to boosting your revenue short-term, and may end up hurting your business more than they help it in the long-term.

Entrepreneurs fall into an ‘I’m stuck for ideas, so why don’t we offer a discount’ trap because they don’t have the time to think of anything else. I’m going to share with you how those sales can hurt or help your business when thought out properly.

A whole lot of bad customers is not a good problem to have.

One of the biggest problems that come with offering discounts is that you will likely get the wrong people to buy from you. This is especially dangerous when you are selling something of a limited quantity (like your time) or at a loss (like a product at or below cost). You might see other businesses, even your competitors, offering promotions at prices that don’t make any sense to you. We will get into why they are doing that in a minute. First, let’s discuss how anyone could be the ‘wrong’ type of customer.

The customers you are attracting with deals may have no intention of ever paying for your product or service at full price. If you are a course maker or service-based business, your discount customers are less likely to be fully engaged, provide information or feedback when you need it, or complete the project – costing you time and energy through following-up and changing your schedule to accommodate them. Not only that, they are more likely to complain, leave negative reviews, or request more than the original offer from you (scope creep – the pain is real). They do these negative things not because they are bad people, but because they do not value the transaction.

Discounts can damage your value and make full-price customers angry.

Another danger of discounts is sending the wrong message to your existing customers about the value you provide. Price promotions automatically lower the perceived value of your product or service. People who have purchased at full price will understandably feel ripped off if they see you promoting discounts later. Those who have not bought anything from you may hold out to see if the price goes lower. Setting the precedence for discounts means that people will be more likely to hold out for a deal when they want to make a purchase from you. There are some ways to combat all of these issues, but it is important to get the balance right.

So what’s the worst that can happen?

At their worst, price promotions may cause your dream customers look for alternatives, bankrupt your business, and fill your days with clients who drain the life out of you and end up demanding refunds anyway. Ok, that may be a bit extreme. Actually, something I’ve seen more often is clients spending time and money on promoting a poorly planned sale and… **crickets**. Combine the loss you have from pushing your sale with your now devalued product or service and a couple bad customers, and it’s no wonder that so many entrepreneurs think marketing “just doesn’t work” for their business.

If there are so many negatives, why would you offer promotions at all?

Usually, the thought process that goes into offering discounts or deals includes one or more of the following reasons:

  1. You are insecure about your pricing, and worry that no one will buy at the regular price
  2. You think that once people have actually bought, they will spend more money with you or tell their friends
  3. You’re trying to steal market share (people already buying similar products or services) from a competitor by being cheaper

You may already know that I’m not a fan of hitching your wagon to the ‘cheapest available option’ benefit when pricing and promoting your service. Someone will always be able to undercut you, and you will build a following of people always hungry for a better deal. Instead, when you price your services you will want to focus on the value that the features and benefits you provide to a customer. However, pricing promotions and discounts through short-term campaigns and offers can help get people over the fear of buying and build loyalty among existing customers.

That’s right, getting someone to actually open their wallets to you can make it easier to pay you for stuff again in the future.

Discounts are just another paid marketing tactic.

Wrap your brains around this folks.

The first thing you need to understand is that discounts are a marketing tactic, just like advertising. What I mean by that is the amount you discount an item is part of your marketing budget. If you offer $20 off on a product or service, that’s like selling it at full price and spending $20 on advertising. Or selling it at $10 off and spending $10 on a sales commission. In each case, you are spending $20 on marketing that item.

The guarantee that people will make a purchase before you’re out your $20 may make discounts seem safer. However, all the risks that come with discounts (see above) can negate that safety if you are not careful. So when you are offering a discount, you should always ask yourself if it would be less expensive or damaging to your business to get the sale through some type of marketing campaign.

Retaining your value while offering a deal.

We talked above about how people can diminish your product or service’s worth if you offer discounts. Fear not. There are ways to keep the value associated with your product or service high. One way is to make the discount scarce – for a limited number of people or a limited amount of time. Another is to offer the discount only in a bundle.

Getting the right people to buy your special offer.

It’s incredibly important to share your deal with your target market, and make sure they know it is for them. You can do this by focusing on where and when you share your message, and what content it includes.

Using discounts and sales as a relationship builder.

Offering promotions for only them will keep your existing customer base loyal and tuned-in to your messages. You may have heard the phrase ‘it costs less to keep an old customer than to find a new one’. That doesn’t mean that it’s free to keep an existing customer. Offering deals to your loyal customers can help create brand evangelists (aka customers who tell everyone they know about you). It can also help offset the pull for them to switch from competitors.

Loss-leaders and the CLV.

I mentioned before that you may shake your head sometimes trying to understand how a competitor could offer such a great deal. You might know that the cost of an item they are selling is $50 (and that’s with zero profit), but they are selling it for $20, meaning they are losing $30 for every sale. This is called a loss-leader, and it seems crazy until you understand the strategy behind it.

This tactic uses a special number, and it is called the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). Your CLV can be complex to actually figure out and depends on your business model. For the sake of keeping it super simple, it is the amount of money your average customer spends with you over your entire relationship.

Generally, this competitor would have done calculations to determine that, on average, their customers spend enough money with them over a number of years to make more than their loss back in profit. In fact, knowing you CLV can help you dramatically expand your customer base in a pretty low-risk environment. Of course, if calculated wrong it can wreck havoc on your cash flow and bottom line.

Loss-leaders come with their own set of considerations. You will be spending the money now and making it back over a period of time. This means you would want to understand how long it takes to make your first $30 back from your customers. You also need to consider and any financing (interest, inflation) that goes along with that. Also, customers buying at a discount may have a different CLV than customers who bought at full-price.

If you are thinking a loss-leader is the right move for your business, I highly recommend working with a professional. They will help you to figure out the right price, timeframe and number of units to use.

Proper planning is the key to a successful promotion strategy.

Part of figuring out your marketing strategy is getting all of your numbers in order. When you’re just starting out, you will need to make some assumptions. The important part is that you start testing those assumptions to see what sticks.

Throughout the promotional period, you’ll also want to track how people heard about the promotion. Some ways to do this are by asking them or using a coupon code, special URL, or analytics software.

You may choose to have occasional limited-time offers or to repeat the same offers annually. Just beware of being in sale mode too often or else you risk damaging your brand value.

Did I miss anything? Have you experienced any negatives or positives in your business when it comes to offering discounts?

How niche is too niche? Specialization is a marketing tool

Jun
21

Time and time again, I work with clients who want to be everything to everyone. And the truth is, I get it. I’ve been there, and I occasionally have to do an audit of my own services to be sure I’m not falling into that old rut again.

When you are able to provide a lot of services, it’s easy to think “why not?” When a client asks you to do something you’re capable of but isn’t what you’re building your business around, it can be difficult to say no to those extra dollars – especially when you’re starting out.

Here’s the problem with doing a little of everything: you specialize in nothing. When you’re scared of losing out on a sale (even when it’s something that’s totally not your jam), you actually end up losing out on those awesome dream clients who want you to do exactly what you do best for them.

So what makes you different in a desirable way?

Do you work with a certain size client, a specific industry, or on a specialized platform? Or do you have a very specialized service offering?

The old business adage is: if you market to everyone, you’re actually marketing to no one.

This is because marketing requires a bit more finesse than you can accomplish by simply slapping your logo or ad somewhere and walking away. That’s called ‘spray and pray’ (i.e. spend a ton of money and hope that something sticks). And it doesn’t work. Even if you get a whole whack of leads from it, your conversion rates are going to suck – basically, people might slow down to read what the signs you’ve plastered on every street corner say, but that doesn’t mean they’ll open their wallets for you.

So what does drilling down to a specific niche do for you?

It lets you know exactly who to target and how to find them. It means that when you write your customer newsletter or begin to offer new features, you can relate it to what’s going on in the world of those specific clients. And it means when someone who fits your client profile is looking for some help, you’re positioned perfectly to be the expert they choose instead of being one of the many generalists out there to choose from.

I can hear you now: “But Jessica, I don’t want to scare away potential clients by focusing on one service” or “I don’t have a lot of time to spend profiling my clients. I’m busy actually trying to pay the bills and handle the work I’ve already got”

Strategically picking your niche or specialty and defining what problem you solve for clients will help you create a marketing plan that reaches the people who need you and are willing to pay for what you do because it is worth it for them. A few extra hours fine-tuning your plan can save you countless hours (and dollars) down the road.

It also means that you can keep up on the trends and changes related to your services. Because you are focusing in one area, you can create a standard process for working with your clients (hooray for an easier workflow!), and communicate that process up front. Honestly, a process is a pretty valuable thing in a service based business.

Marketing yourself as an expert in a niche field is far easier than trying to go broad because at the heart of every marketing plan are word-of-mouth and referrals that fly through a niche, making it easy for your ideal customer to choose you. The longer you’ve been specializing, the larger portfolio or client roster you develop, and the more well known you become for what you do.

So, how niche is too niche? 

If there aren’t enough clients who fit your profile or need your service for your business to be profitable, you’re going to need to zoom out a little. Especially if there is a lot of competition for what you do. It’s going to be different for everyone, but having actual conversations with your potential clients is the best way to validate that you’re on the right track.

Whatever you choose right now, rest at ease that it can adapt over time while you grow your business.

Now what should you do if you’re not well known for a specialty and just need to pay the bills?

Chances are, even though you market to a specific audience you’ll still get requests for other work that’s not really up your ally. Or you might think of a quick and easy service offering that you can do short-term that will help cover some costs (although, if it’s so easy and profitable why isn’t it your main gig, huh?).

To help you decide when it’s worthwhile to take on some of those ‘extra’ jobs, here are a few criteria I suggest considering:

[list list_type=”0″ animation=”” actions=”icon-angle-double-right^icon-angle-double-right^icon-angle-double-right^icon-angle-double-right^icon-angle-double-right” colors=”#016a7d^#016a7d^#016a7d^#016a7d^#016a7d” list_item_content=”Are you ok with doing the work but not adding it to your portfolio, case study, testimonial folder or client list? You don’t want to confuse your future clients about what you actually offer.^Could the time you spend completing the job be used to find more relevant work? Knowing how busy your schedule is will help you figure this one out.^Is the work for an existing client who uses or will use your preferred services? While it can be worthwhile to do a small job to please an existing customer, you also run the risk of sending the wrong message.^Will you be able to complete the work to your current standards? By doing a poor job on something you are not specializing in, you send a bad message about your abilities.^Will the project be profitable? Is the value you provide worth your regular rate (or higher), or will you need to spend a lot of additional time getting up-to-date and researching to do the job properly?” sc_id=”sc1464745079110″]

Cutting services and narrowing your market demographic can be scary, but it is the best way to become specialized and distinguish your offering from the competition.

Expect less of yourself 

Mar
25

What do you want to accomplish today? This week? This year? In your lifetime?

I know that what I want to accomplish and what I am capable of accomplishing are very different things.

If I had it my way, in the next year I’d write a new blog post every day, finish client projects the day they land on my to-do list, write a book, launch a course, be a regular contributor to a major website, have an impeccable home, master the exercise activities I’ve been meaning to try, be involved in multiple community groups, become a hobby photographer, try new cookbook recipes every week, take art classes, travel the country with my son, spend a ton of time just being with family and friends, and also read every book on my favorite library shelves during ‘me’ time. Actually, I’m probably missing a lot from this list, but it’s a good glimpse into the things rattling around in my brain at this time. Life is short and I have always wanted to do a lot with it.

It’s easy to beat yourself up for not doing more, for having a to-do list that never gets checked off. But what if we only put a couple achievable items on our plate each day? What if we can pick the most important (not just the urgent) tasks and slowly work toward actually completing the goals that truly mean something to us?

By lowering your expectations, you take control of your time. I didn’t even realize that I had placed that giant list on myself until I sat down and wrote it out. I just kept feeling deflated when I realized how little progress I make toward those goals each day.

So write your list for the year out, and then take some time to lower your expectations. What can you simplify and what can you cut? How can you lay the groundwork to get some of the major items started? And how can you manage the ‘other’ stuff you actually have to get done each day to leave you more time to tackle the things that are important to you?

The secret of momentum

Feb
17

What is the secret that is going to help you achieve your dream? It’s building momentum.

Don’t let the fear of failure, the distance you need to travel, or the length of time it will take to get there keep you from taking the first baby step toward your objective. Because the first step leads to the second, which leads to the third. Your muscles ache, and you’re watching your feet to make sure every step lands on solid ground. Your end goal seems so very far away, but you keep moving because you know you’ll never get there by standing still.

You notice some people turn around and head home, while others stop to try to build a racecar that will get them to the finish line quicker. You don’t know how to build a racecar, so you just keep going.

And while you’re covering ground, all sorts of other unexpected benefits are coming your way. Your body starts to get used to the exercise, so you’re able to move faster, without getting out of breath as easily. Before you know it, you’re jogging. And you get to know your body better so that when you are out of breath, you know when you can push through and when you need to slow down for a while.

You meet other people on similar journeys who give you advice, some of which works for you. They cheer you on. They tell you about shortcuts to take and paths to avoid. You see other people starting out on their own journeys, and you tell them that it gets easier because you know how tough those first few steps can be.

Your cheap walking shoes wear out, so you invest in some good quality ones and don’t know how you ever got by with the old ones. Then you think about how far you made it in the old ones. You remember that the shoes are the tools, but you’re still the one who has to take the steps.

You pass by people sitting on a bench, telling you to give up – you’ll never make it – but by now you’re moving so fast that you barely hear them. You think about them for a few moments after you pass them. How did they get to that bench? Why don’t they just get up and keep taking steps? Who would want to sit on the same bench their whole life?

Some days you are tired, but you know that you can keep taking one step at a time because you’ve done it before. Most days, you wake up and can’t wait to keep going because your body has become so used to burning all that energy, you don’t know what you’d do if you had to sit still. Every once in a while, you glance backward. But all you see are things you’ve already seen. Places you’ve already been. You can’t even see your starting point anymore.

You realize that finding solid ground is like second nature now, and you no longer have to stare at the road. It seems so funny that you used to spend so much time looking down. Now you spend most of your time looking forward.

At some point, you realize that the destination isn’t nearly as important as the journey. The path you had planned in the beginning is getting a bit too boring, the journey too easy, so you decide to pick up a partner, change directions and go on an adventure.

Maybe you decide to climb a mountain. You’ve never even seen a mountain in person before, so it totally wasn’t on your radar when you began your trip. And you think, “man, what was I doing with all that walking and running? I should have been training to climb all this time. The other people on this mountain have been climbing so much longer than me.”

You and your partner team up with a group of other climbers who are headed toward the same summit. You tell them the story of where you started, the paths you took. They tell you theirs. Some people had a relatively easy journey while others… you couldn’t even imagine doing what they did to get here. You’re surrounded by the same type of people that you used to look to for inspiration. But you’re all in the same place now, and you help each other as you ascend to new heights. A few people in the group are veteran climbers. They keep climbing new and different mountains over and over and already have the tools and experiences to get through just about any type of mountain terrain and weather. You’re incredibly happy to be climbing with them.

You know that even if the journey is tough, you can get through it if you keep taking it one rock at a time. Your body is in good shape now, so even though your arms are aching and your core is burning, you don’t need to stop to catch your breath. Who knew that those strong leg muscles from running would come in so handy for climbing a mountain?

Together, you make it to the top and look at the world below you. Everything seems so small, so achievable. You reflect on the beginning of your journey and realize you’ve traveled much further than you had planned. You’ve been on the move for years, which is funny because you remember thinking that it would take forever to get anywhere worthwhile. But when you look back now, the time flew by so fast.

You see someone down below speeding along in their race car and think its pretty good you didn’t try to build one because you would have never made it to the top of a mountain in a car.

You descend the mountain carefully, marveling at how much work is involved in climbing down. Still, it is much easier it is to come down a mountain than to climb up one and you make good time.

You continue to keep moving, not in as big of a rush as you used to be. You take the time to stop and talk to people, offering your advice. They tell you that they couldn’t possibly do what you did. They don’t have the right shoes. They don’t have as much energy as you. They have to pull a wagon full of rocks behind them. You want to scream because you know that you did it, that countless other people have done it, and that they can do it too if they really wanted to. You realize that you can’t actually take the steps for someone else, and you can’t force them to take them either.

You also talk to people who tell you about their own incredible journeys. Some stayed on the road while others made their own paths through the unexplored jungle. Now, you realize, you can tackle any adventure you want to. You have the tools and the drive. You begin to look for new challenges, new people, new places. It’s hard to think of a goal that seems out of reach because you have already achieved the seemingly impossible.

Momentum will keep you moving, faster than you thought possible. If the going is tough and you really don’t want to keep moving, just think about how much easier it will be tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that if you just stick with it. Focused energy multiplied by time equals miraculous results.

 

The Stress of Being Paid Too Much

Dec
01

While navigating the waters of freelance communications, I’ve learned a lesson many may say to unlearn. I’m about to say something that is unpopular amongst freelancers, so beware.

As any freelancer knows, pricing your services is one of the most difficult aspects of getting started. After all, what is your time really worth? There are a number of formulas for working out your hourly and project rates. You can decide how much money you want to make in a year and divide by the number of billable hours you plan to put in. You can research your competition’s rates and place your own according to your experience. You can under price to get a ton of work or over price and take on only a couple projects.

Years ago, when I first started working as a freelance designer, I was unconfident in my abilities and unsure of market rates so I severely under priced my services. It led to reasonable expectations from clients to continue my work at unprofitably low rates and caused me to reconsider full-time employment.

More recently, I have completed more formal education and I have experimented with rates ranging from mid-level to high in my market. Here’s what I learned: the more that you charge, the more you and your client expect. The more your client expects, the more difficult it is to really impress them.

If you’re anything like me, this can cause a lot of stress. In response to worrying that my client would be unhappy, I put in extra time, added extra services and generally spent about five times as much time on a project than I normally would. Because when it comes down to it, I’d rather have a happy client (and the referrals and repeat business) than make a few extra bucks right here and now.

In the end, I provided good value to the customer but spent so much of my own time trying to justify that value that I missed out on opportunities to work on other projects.

Obviously, your rates will rise with experience but if you’re looking to get started and don’t know what to charge, I say save yourself the stress of being paid too much and let your confidence build along with your portfolio.

The Most Important (Invisible) Skill

Sep
23

Organization. Time management. Multi-tasking. Call it what you will, this skill which people develop with hard work and dedication is pretty hard to measure. It’s not something you take a class for. Not something you become accredited in. Yet it might just be the most important skill for success in both work and life.

It’s the key for getting things accomplished. Which, regardless of your job, is necessary. And everyone does it to some degree or another. If you manage to work, eat, and sleep every day you’re doing it.

But what if we could really develop this skill in an individual? What if they were able to get things done at maximum capacity? Could this mean higher productivity at work? Could this lead to a better work-life balance?

Professional communicators have been surveyed as having one of the most stressful jobs in the world, and I believe that a lot of this stress comes from having to manage the information for a number of critical projects at the same time – all the time. From developing relationships with multiple people in order to get things done to needing to be in ten places at the same time, it’s a fast paced job by any standard.

As an organization, you look to hire the most organized person who can manage their time and multitask with high efficiency. But how do you find that person? From an interview, how do you determine who is better able to manage the workload?

And as an employee, how can you prove your ability – or explain it – in order to get the job?

Currently, this seems to be where entry-level positions come in. They work as a long-term job interview for seeing if you can handle the heat.

Entry-level sucks. We all know it. But it is a necessary evil to proving your value. So for those who are annoyed with looking for or working in an entry-level position where you are not yet able to provide the company with your full knowledge or capabilities, focus on proving yourself through time-management, organization and multitasking. Be obvious about it. Use a multi-coloured calendar. Be early for everything. Offer to lead a team and prove you can do it. Ask for more work because you’re just so efficient, you can get your own done in no time. Use a checklist where you leave the checked-off accomplishments for everyone to see what you’ve done. It’s the most important skill for proving your worth. Stop making it invisible.

As My Friend Seth Would Say, Ship It

Apr
29

Let me tell you one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve heard in my professional and educational career: Ship It.

These wise words and the concept behind them were brought to my attention by Seth Godin. If you have any ambition, creativity, or smarts you’ll subscribe to his blog as I have for the past couple years.

Ship It

Let me paraphrase the “ship it” concept:

If you put it off, it’ll never get done.

[ctt_hbox link=”296K5″ via=”no” ]If you don’t stop until it’s perfect, it’ll never get done.[/ctt_hbox]

If you waste your time, all the things you want to accomplish will never get done.

He’s not saying to settle for mediocrity. He’s saying get the bang for your buck, value for money. It’s something I learned at one of my first jobs. You need to balance time (or money) and quality in a way that maximizes both.

The beauty of this idea is that it encourages you to make yourself more valuable and grow your list of accomplishments. This blog was created in response to these words. I’m shipping it.

You might want to make your next read one of his books. There are lots to choose from, and you can find them at most bookstores and libraries.