An Example of Legacy Challenges

Breezewood, Pennsylvania, to me, is a classic example of what happens when too many stakeholders are too wedded to the status quo at the expense of the greater good.

The New York Times recently published an article summarizing the history of the Breezewood interchange and the challenges around connecting I-70 / I-76.

My suspicion is that the weird little bottleneck of Breezewood, PA will be there for the rest of my lifetime.

I’m OK with that.

Time Management Planning vs Contingent Planning and Why You Need Both

We found that increasing your engagement and productivity at work could be as simple as making a plan for the day. But these positive effects depended on what type of plan employees used and how many interruptions or disruptions they faced in their day-to-day work.

Research Shows a Simple Way to Increase Your Engagement at Work – Harvard Business Review

What they found is that we need to plan for distractions.

They looked at two types of planning:

  • Time Management Planning – which the researchers defined as planning what you are going to get done that day
  • Contingent Planning – or…how you will change your plan if you get interrupted. Which will happen unless you unplug everything and hide in a cave.

Just doing time management planning isn’t enough to stay engaged and productive.

People over-estimate how much they can get done and don’t consider what might hinder them from getting through their to-do lists.

Contingent planning accommodates the interruptions.

For me, this looks like:

  • Here are the 3 things I plan to get done today and when I am going to do it.  (Time Management planning – this shows up as blocks on my calendar)
  • Here’s the ONE thing I will get done today no matter what. (Contingent planning – the first thing I do that day)

The days I plan for interruptions and have contingency plans just in case – I walk away from the day feeling more accomplished.

The days I carefully plan what I am going to accomplish, then get pulled in a million different directions that I didn’t plan to get pulled in, I finish the day tired and frustrated.

The researchers set aside the question of interruptions and how to control the distractions in the first place.  They are assuming that we are not able to control these.

They may be right.

I’d love for us to at least start asking why we are so distracted and what purpose those distractions serve.

Why am I inviting distraction?  How do these distractions help me?

How am I distracting others? What are my motives?

How to Create a Reskilling Environment

Reskilling is NOT about providing a library of online tutorials.

Reskilling is NOT about providing courses.

Or training.

Or any of those other singular events.

Reskilling is about developing new skills and knowledge to allow you to bring more value to the world.

Yes, training is a part of what is necessary for reskilling.  As Gary Wise explains, “training drives potential”.

How many times have you attended training, or a course, or watched an online tutorial, and never used the skill?

Or the environment didn’t encourage use of the skill?

Or the environment didn’t tolerate mistakes? Or time for practice?


To create a reskilling environment, we need to do the following:

  1. High-Quality Training.  Yes, training is an important tool.  It provides the knowledge transfer and introduction.  Training is only the beginning of the process. Oh yeah, and PLEASE allow the students to unplug when they are there.  If they have to continuously respond to email or Slack or IM or text or whatever while they are supposed to be training, no one is getting anything out of the time.  Your organization is handicapping its investment.
  2. Support at the Point of Work. Job aids, decision trees, whatever.  This is where the new skills go into application.  If they don’t need to memorize it, they don’t need to memorize it.
  3. Opportunities to Practice.  This means projects.  And this means projects with enough time to accommodate the practice of these new skills and low enough risk to allow for mistakes. And allowing for mistakes and lessons learned.
  4. Opportunities to Process. Give people the time to reflect on what is working and what isn’t.  Give people the time to figure out how to apply their new skills to solve the problems in front of them.  When people are rushed and stressed, they will revert back to old habits.
  5. Encouragement and Safe Spaces.  Learning new things is painful.  Especially if you have been an expert and now have to go back to being a beginner. There are setbacks. There are plateaus. There are times when it feels like you will never get it.  Be the guide. Remember when you went through that challenge. Remember what it felt like to be a beginner. Do this for your employees. Do this for your peers.

Reskilling Prong 6 – Sharing

I think I figured out why so many people are selling marketing solutions.

“Here’s what worked for me.”

It’s a way of monetizing the reflection step of learning.

I don’t blame them.  Setting up marketing requires a lot of complicated, unpaid work.

In my case, sharing what I learn outside of my immediate group of friends encourages me to process the information in ways where I cannot take shortcuts in my explanations.

  • What did I do and can I explain it in a way that others can follow?
  • What results did I intend?
  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?
  • What would I have done differently if I knew then what I know now?
  • Why would I do those things differently?
  • What are my next steps?
  • What is my anticipated result?

Don’t worry.  I’m not going to be selling my marketing “solution” anytime soon.

There are others who are much more passionate about marketing as an activity.  And I’m still in early days.

If I become a kajillionaire doing this, I might change my mind.

Meanwhile – a reminder regarding my newsletter and mailing lists.

I appreciate everyone who reads this blog.  Thank you for spending your valuable time with me.


My sweet spot is helping middle managers and senior team leads cope with their current environment, find time to do the things that are important to them, and be less stressed about it all.

Let me know if you want to work together.


I am also offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.

 

Reskilling Prong 5 – Experimental Mindset

Treating my marketing and sales activities as experiments helps me get stuff out there and reduces the resistance (a little).

  • Do (sales and/or marketing) thing.
  • Put out into world.
  • Receive results.
  • Analyze results.
  • Make adjustments.
  • Rinse, repeat.

There is less pressure to get something out there that is “perfect.”

That doesn’t always stop me from procrastinating.  That’s a fear/resistance thing.

This is why the mentor in Prong 2 and the friendly safe space in Prong 4 are so important.

They encourage me to get over the fear and resistance.

Maybe one day I won’t need to lean on those prongs so much.

I’m not quite there yet.  It will take more cycles.

It’s part of the mastery process.


I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.

 

Reskilling Prong 4 – Safe Space

New learning needs safe spaces to allow for experimentation and development of stability.

New learning is scary – why make transversing the dip more challenging than it needs to be?

This is where I recruit supporters and allies for friendly pilots.

These are trusted friends who I know have my best interest at heart.

I’m blessed that these friends are also really smart – I get good feedback from them.

That safe space allows me to practice and solidify the new learning before going out into the scary world.


For my marketing efforts, I decided to approach safe space creation in three ways.

First – through my entrepreneurial friends. They can relate to the need to market (and the resistance that pops up).  We are also not competing with each other for clients.  They have provided sound, actionable feedback and encouragement.

Second – through my “target market” friends.  They are able to look at my materials and tell me whether they work for them.  They provide a good place for me to experiment, tell me whether I am hitting my mark with my service, and whether I am actually helping. They get free help, I get practice. Everybody wins.

Third – through a small mastermind group.  This is a higher risk approach, but one that I needed to add to my safe space.  I needed a group of people who don’t know me to give me feedback. We are all trying to do the same thing, so they can relate to the struggle.  They also haven’t heard my attempts to explain things umpteen-million times, so they are approaching my work with a fresh eye.

I consider this “coopera-tition.” We may be competitors, but we can help each other too.  This has the added benefit of growing my network.  I have no problem with forwarding potential clients to any of them if that client would be better served through their services.


Example:  If you are a senior executive or CEO – I feel you would be better off contacting one of the following:

None of those are affiliate links.


My sweet spot is helping middle managers and senior team leads cope with their current environment, find time to do the things that are important to them, and be less stressed about it all.

Let me know if you want to work together.


I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.

 

#52books Authorpreneur

authorpreneur cover
#52Books Authorpreneur: Build the Brand, Business, and Lifestyle You Deserve. It’s Time to Write Your Book.

Format: Kindle

Have you noticed the explosion of books on Amazon?

I sense that a large percentage of those books are written by individuals trying to establish expertise in a given niche.

Jesse Tevelow comprehensively explains the entrepreneurial book writing process; from idea to the act of writing to packaging and marketing.

Tevelow argues that the act of writing a book helps the development of mastery. The research required and the attempt to explain what you are learning to others help you gain expertise in the topic.  By the time you are done writing the book, he argues, you can speak authoritatively on the topic you researched.

I feel that there is more credibility if you have applied what you are writing about and can speak to the hazards and pitfalls of your ideas out in the field.  I know I am in a more privileged position than many of Tevelow’s readers. I have been doing what I have been doing for 20+ years, and I am not trying to reposition myself as an expert in things I haven’t done before.

The research I am doing now is helping me get some new ideas for maneuvering in our current environment and get a better understanding of some of the new conversations around business. Step 2 – for me – is to put what I learn into practice. Only after I get some feedback from application in the field, that’s when I write. I’ve operated this way for my entire career. Take idea, test in environment, write about the results. 

The big issue I have with Tevelow’s advice is that it skips the application step. I’m finding that many of the books I am encountering in the “build-a-business” space are missing proof of application.  It takes some digging to tell you whether the book is written by someone who has done the work or is just a decent researcher and writer.  This is not a complaint – it only speaks to the increasing need for assessing sources before diving in headlong.  At least Tevelow practices what he preaches.

Everything else he describes strikes me as dead-on.  Knowing WHY you are writing the book and how you are positioning it (freebie for email collection, expertise development, or as a profit center), the process of writing and how to make it less crazy-making, even some marketing recommendations.  There is a lot here for those of us who like to write and want to make writing a core part of their business.


Disclosure: The book link goes to Amazon and supports my blogging.  Thanks.

#52books Authorpreneur

authorpreneur cover
#52Books Authorpreneur: Build the Brand, Business, and Lifestyle You Deserve. It’s Time to Write Your Book.

Format: Kindle

Have you noticed the explosion of books on Amazon?

I sense that a large percentage of those books are written by individuals trying to establish expertise in a given niche.

Jesse Tevelow comprehensively explains the entrepreneurial book writing process; from idea to the act of writing to packaging and marketing.

Tevelow argues that the act of writing a book helps the development of mastery. The research required and the attempt to explain what you are learning to others help you gain expertise in the topic.  By the time you are done writing the book, he argues, you can speak authoritatively on the topic you researched.

I feel that there is more credibility if you have applied what you are writing about and can speak to the hazards and pitfalls of your ideas out in the field.  I know I am in a more privileged position than many of Tevelow’s readers. I have been doing what I have been doing for 20+ years, and I am not trying to reposition myself as an expert in things I haven’t done before.

The research I am doing now is helping me get some new ideas for maneuvering in our current environment and get a better understanding of some of the new conversations around business. Step 2 – for me – is to put what I learn into practice. Only after I get some feedback from application in the field, that’s when I write. I’ve operated this way for my entire career. Take idea, test in environment, write about the results. 

The big issue I have with Tevelow’s advice is that it skips the application step. I’m finding that many of the books I am encountering in the “build-a-business” space are missing proof of application.  It takes some digging to tell you whether the book is written by someone who has done the work or is just a decent researcher and writer.  This is not a complaint – it only speaks to the increasing need for assessing sources before diving in headlong.  At least Tevelow practices what he preaches.

Everything else he describes strikes me as dead-on.  Knowing WHY you are writing the book and how you are positioning it (freebie for email collection, expertise development, or as a profit center), the process of writing and how to make it less crazy-making, even some marketing recommendations.  There is a lot here for those of us who like to write and want to make writing a core part of their business.


Disclosure: The book link goes to Amazon and supports my blogging.  Thanks.

Reskilling Prong 3 – Scheduled Deliverables

I do best when I know what steps I need to take and, for the scary bits, those steps are small enough that I can do that step today and celebrate the fact that I’ve taken the step.

Is this quick? Nope. I’m making progress.

Days when I am feeling more confident about what I am doing, I get more steps done.  Days where I am not right in the head – at least I did something.  I count that as a win.


Learning sticks when we apply it. Not just when we hoard information.

To that end, I create small, low-risk projects for myself to start.

What that looks like will vary for everyone.

As I get more comfortable, I increase the risk and scale.

For instance, creating a marketing architecture and plan requires a number of small steps and deliverables attached to those steps.

Small, low-risk – create a MailChimp list.  MailChimp has a free level and allows you to create a list.  Is your list created and working? Yes/no.   (BTW – that is not an affiliate link. MailChimp is a popular tool in the marketing space for a reason, it’s really simple.)

Small, higher risk – ask people to join the list.  Again, a deliverable with a measurable outcome.  How many people are on your list (that is not you and your testing accounts)?

The risk is in the ask. Getting over the fear of asking and what people will think of you. Some of us have an easier time with this than others.

Slightly larger, slightly higher risk – ask people you don’t know very well to join the list.  Yet again, a deliverable with a measurable outcome.

This time, you can work with lag and lead measures. Lag measure – how many people are on your list?  Lead measure – how many people did you ask today?

This is the deliverable I am currently working on.   Eventually – I will have enough information to be able to see a percentage of the number of people I asked vs the number of people who signed up.


When done well – you can work up to large, multi-deliverable projects at a significant risk level.

Unfortunately, many of us try to go big right out of the gate.

In my experience, 9 times out of 10 that is a huge mistake.

Failing big makes it much harder to try again.  Not only have you burned yourself out, you have also damaged your goodwill with others.

Don’t under-estimate the power of small, low-risk projects.


This is a good time to offer my personal marketing and mailing list disclaimers:

  • If you sign up for my newsletters (check the sidebar of the blog) – I will send you monthly newsletters, any freemiums I develop, and potential offers as I come up with them.  My intent is to provide value and not spam your inbox. You get enough email.
  • If you decide to watch my Masterclass – the newsletter subscription will not be automatic. I do have email follow-ups (like everyone else) – but I’m not going to hound you every 2-3 hours.  I’ll send a separate invite to a newsletter subscription, but you can choose whether you want to subscribe or not. Again, my intent is to provide value and not spam your inbox.
  • The blog is always there.  I do not intend to cease writing for free just because I am trying to make a living.  The blog is one way I reflect and process information. I’ll talk about this more in a future post.

Does the above go against common marketing practice?

Yes – I don’t want to clutter your inbox.  My goal is to build positive relationships.

Providing me with your email tells me that you trust me to provide value.  For that, I thank you.

Oh – and feel free to let me know what you would like to see me cover.  What is your most pressing problem?


I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.

 

 

Reskilling Prong 2 – Finding a Mentor

This one is a bit trickier for me. I’m not good at asking for help.

As I learn sales and marketing, finding a mentor provided a greater challenge than usual.

Most of my closest friends have the same problem I do – sales and marketing are not natural acts.

Furthermore, the best salesman I know is my brother, and though I can ask him advice, he’s a natural.  He probably thinks my struggle is ridiculous.

I’m also not good at receiving advice from people close to me.  This is why I don’t ask my partner for golf tips (even though he is a fantastic golfer).  I know myself well enough to know that I’m going to resist.  I prefer to keep my relationships with both my brother and my partner strong. No point in testing those bonds because I’m suffering from the “familiarity breeds contempt” fallacy.

The sales and marketing mentor I found is completely outside my network.  This works for me because he doesn’t need to be my friend. Plus, he’s been there. He’s made the mistakes. He’s far enough along that he can guide, but isn’t so far along that he can’t relate. And he holds me accountable.  This has been critical for the “hard” activities. I’m great at procrastinating when I have to reach out to people or release projects I’ve been working on forever.

Mentorship provides the accountability that is absolutely critical for learning a new skill and feedback from someone who has already done the work multiple times.  In my case, my mentor has also talked me down from a few fear-based freakouts. I haven’t been the best student 			</div><!-- .entry-content -->
	    
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