More tips for time management

In the world of business, no matter how successful one becomes, time is one thing that there is not enough of.

The majority of successful salespeople that I know and have worked with practice disciplined time management by spending the majority of their time on tasks that make them money andlittle time on things that are a waste of time.

In the field of sales, there is not enough time in the day to complete all the work that needs to be done and as a result, time management can be one of the keys to producing consistent results.

There are a few very clear and practical tactics that you can deploy to not only improve productivity, but to also help to decrease stress at the same time.

Here are a 11 tips that will help you to get a better picture of how you’ll have to manage your time in order to be successful in the world of sales.

  1. Plan your day before you leave your office or before you hit the sack.
  2. Block out the time from 8:00 AM through 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM through 5:00 PM to call prospective customers.
  3. You won’t waste your time when cold calling on Thursday.
  4. Don’t let anyone or anything distract you from these time tables.
  5. Have a plan “B” then return to plan “A” as soon as possible.
  6. Avoid the water cooler.  That’s what Happy Hour is for.
  7. Learn to say “No”, don’t over commit, and outsource when you can.
  8. If you must take a call during your sales time, limit it to two-minutes max.
  9. Check and send emails before 9:00 AM, between Noon and 1:00 PM, and after 5:00 PM.
  10. Write your To-do list on a pad of paper and prioritize your list down to the five most important tasks needed to be completed.  Find a software program as an alternative.
  11. Reevaluate your time management system regularly.

By applying the time management tips and skills in this chapter you can optimize your efforts to ensure that you concentrate as much of your time and energy as possible on the high payoff tasks. This ensures that you achieve the greatest benefit possible with the limited amount of time available to you.

Time Management to Increase Productivity

Time management is a skill you can improve. To improve your time management skills, you need to know what to focus on, and how to focus.

Here are ten ways you can use to improve your time management skills over time:
    • Work on the high ROI stuff. Apply Pareto’s Principle (The “80/20 Rule”). Work on the 20% of activities that produce the 80% of your results. For example, rather than just do a lot of tasks just because they are easy to do, ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?” Chances are you can find smarter or better plays, with more leverage or more impact. Trade-up, and do less to accomplish more.
    • Team up. Pair up with other people and improve your own effectiveness. Ask yourself, “Who can I team up with to get results? How can I build more effective teams? Who should be paired up on the team for best results?” By pairing up, you create a team of capabilities and you can amplify your results. This can also help you get over your own personal bottlenecks, by finding complimentary skills. Worst case, you can make common chores, more fun.
    • Create clarity. Ask yourself, “Who, what, when, where, why, how?” Having clarity of mind makes it easy to focus on what’s important. It also makes it easy to know where you are in the process. The bottom line is, clarity saves you time.
    • Clear your mind. Carry a small pad for tasks, notes and ideas. When you declutter your mind, you make it easier to act on your ideas, and you have more of your attention available to focus where it counts.
    • Don’t dwell on the past. Catch the next train. Keep your trains leaving the station. When you miss one, don’t hold your train back. Instead, catch the next one.
    • Learn how to scan. Find and focus on what’s important faster. By scanning before drilling, you can figure out where to invest more of your time. You can also avoid spending too much time following dead end trails.
    • Make minor decisions quickly. Don’t spend $20 on a $5 problem. Decisions take energy. If you over-invest in small decisions, then you waste your time and energy.
    • Periodically evaluate how you’re using your time. Remember that time changes what’s important. Your current schedule may be a slave to your past priorities, or may conflict with your current goals.
    • Give yourself less time for things. Remember Parkinson’s Law – Work expands to fill the time available to completion. To waste less time, give yourself less time.
    • Use The Rule of Three. Use The Rule of Three to avoid getting overwhelmed. Limit yourself to three things and think in threes. For example, identify three wins to focus on for the day, or three wins to focus on for the week. Use these three wins to improve your focus and create compelling results.

You can apply these tips on a regular basis. One simple way is to keep asking yourself, are you working on the right things, at the right time, with the right energy, the right way. It’s an easy way to find opportunities to improve your time management skills while you apply the ideas above. Remember that, a little daily improvement, will quickly add up over time.

Planning: Prepare Your Rocket Before Launching

You’re launching a new business venture, and you’re understandably excited. You’re also really scared, which is also understandable. While no business launch comes with guarantees, you’re more likely to succeed if you cross all your i’s and dot all your t’s, literally and figuratively, before you hang up your shingle. Each business is unique; however, there are common elements to nearly every business you should be sure to put in place to give your business the best possible shot at success.

Begin With Basics

This may seem obvious, but you need to know what your business will do and how you intend to structure your company before you launch. This includes selecting a legal structure for your business and obtaining any required registrations or permits. For instance, unless you open a sole proprietorship using your own name, you will probably need to register the name of your business.

If your business employees other workers, you will need a tax ID number. You should probably get one anyway, because it will help you establish a separate business identity. If you intend to sell merchandise, you will need to register with the state to pay state sales taxes. Do you need to obtain malpractice or worker compensation coverage?  How about unemployment benefits?  You must develop answers to these and related questions before you open your doors.

Dollars and Cents

If you decide to go the bootstrapping route and fund your business with savings, credit cards, or wages from a regular job, you will be in good company.  Many companies start that way. However, if you seek funding from a bank, angel investor or venture capitalist, you will need to have a strong business plan ready.

You will also need a way to handle the money your business generates or pays out, beginning with a dedicated business bank account. Banks will generally require evidence that your business is registered with the state or county, along with a business tax ID number before they will open a business account for you.

Online and Social Marketing

Back in the day, if you wanted to get the word out about a new business venture, you bought newspaper and magazine advertising. You put up billboards. If you were very ambitious (and had sufficient funding) you could pursue television and radio advertising.

Traditional advertising and marketing outlets are still important for businesses at every phase of development. However, to tap into the potential of having word of mouth spread to thousands of potential clients or customers, it’s difficult to beat online marketing and social media. Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, which was built for business, are ideal for reaching younger audiences.

To tap into online resources, you must, first and foremost, purchase and maintain a domain for your business. Establish dedicated company email addresses associated with your company’s domain. Use this domain to build your company’s website and get the website listed with assorted search engines. Link your website to social media outlets and build back links with compatible third party websites or company web pages.

Develop a Checklist

Think of your business venture like moving house or planning a long trip. You undoubtedly begin with a plan and develop a checklist of associated tasks. Launching a business is no different.  By laying the proper groundwork, your business has a better chance not only to survive, but to thrive.

For Further Reading

Dot.Com Countdown: Seven Steps to E-Business Launch

webmarketingtoday.com/articles/jesuswalk-launch/

Five Steps to Launching a Business
microsoft.com/business/en-us/resources/startups/business-opportunities/5-steps-to-starting-a-business.aspx?fbid=OJN5sYavkpS

Follow These 10 Steps to Starting a Business
sba.gov/content/follow-these-10-steps-starting-business

Guest post contributed by Paul Kasparov on behalf of MayoWynneBaxter.co.uk – Wills and Probate Solicitors. Paul is a freelance writer. He has a penchant for new businesses and writes for various online business publications.

Seven Common Credibility Blind Spots and How They Can Derail Your Image

Beware your credibility blind spots. These bad behaviors are unintentional, yet they can derail your image. What’s more, they can be irritating and distracting to everyone … but you.

The good news is that once you identify your blind spots, you can take steps to eliminate them. And in a high-speed, hypercompetitive business world, the time to do this is now.

Today your credentials may get you in the door. Yet to really succeed, you’ve got to look credible when it matters most: in face-to-face interactions. Whether you’re meeting one-to-one or presenting to a packed audience, your credibility is immediately being assessed.

So how can you uncover your credibility blind spots? The surest way is to capture yourself on video in a typical business setting. (Smartphones make this easier than ever.) And while there are numerous behaviors to look for, seven blind spots are most common:

1. Using speech fillers.

Speech fillers are superfluous sounds or words, like “um” and “you know.” Today, such fillers are pervasive in our culture, including the business world. A smart, young technology CEO recently said to his team, “So, I actually sort of passionately believe that we have an opportunity to, uh, you know, sort of really take this platform to a new level. So we just kind of, uh, need to jump in, you know, with full force.” He wanted to fire up his people, but his fillers extinguished his passion.

Fast Tip: Embrace the tactical pause. Instead of interjecting fillers, simply pause while your mind searches for the next word.

2. Making extraneous movements.

Extraneous movements—such as jiggling your knee, bobbing your head, or shifting your weight—weaken your personal power. You might say, “I can’t help myself. I just can’t be still.” Truth is, excessive fidgeting is a self-comforting behavior. Stillness sends a message that you’re calm and confident.

Fast Tip: Test your ability to literally have a level head. Fold a thick pair of socks and balance it on your head. Try talking for several minutes without losing the socks.

3. Self-commenting.

When you feel self-conscious, it’s easy to overreact to your every mistake. If you trip over a word, you might apologize (“Sorry!”), make a joke (“No more coffee for me”), or resort to nonverbal reflexes, like shaking your head or shrugging your shoulders. The problem with this “self-commenting” is your external preoccupation with your internal criticism. Mistakes happen; simply correct them and move on.

Fast Tip: Fictionary is a game where players compose fake definitions of obscure words. Play it with your friends or family as a fun way to learn to ignore your inner critic.

4. Misplacing upward vocal inflections.

You probably work with someone who speaks in “up talk”: using upward inflections that sound like question marks at the end of sentences. This vocal pattern is widespread—and contagious. Be vigilant in not picking it up.

Fast Tip: Read an article aloud with strong downward inflections. Begin each sentence at middle to high pitch and cascade downward at the end of each phrase.

5. Making yourself smaller.

If you’re like most people, when you feel intimidated, you make yourself smaller to avoid being an easy target. You might place your feet closer together, tuck your arms to your sides, dip your chin, or pull back on your volume. Any or all of these behaviors say, “I feel threatened.”

Fast Tip: Practice optimal standing posture throughout the day, not just in important situations, to help make it habitual. Balance your weight over your feet, lengthen your spine, and elongate your neck.

6. Masking your face and hands.

Masking behaviors can creep up when you feel uneasy or on the spot. This takes many different forms, including crossing your arms, clasping your hands, playing with your clothes or jewelry, or having a poker face—cutting off any animation of your face or hands.

Fast Tip: The more comfortable you feel, the more animated you are with your face and hands. Open your posture and engage your gestures at the start of each conversation. Practice this at company gatherings or networking events, where you have the opportunity to talk to a lot of people in a short period of time.

7. Dropping eye contact.

You don’t see professional athletes dropping their eyes to the ground during play. In business settings, when you drop eye contact, you drop out of the game. Keep your eyes on the horizon and give your listeners the same respect you expect from them—your full attention. It’s all right to move your eyes to the side momentarily to gather your thoughts. Otherwise, if your mouth is moving, your eyes should be on your listeners.

Fast Tip: Train yourself to keep your eyes up while thinking and talking. One practice exercise: Place blank Post-it notes across a large wall in your home or office. Ask yourself questions and hold your eyes on a Post-it while answering. Let your sentence structure be your cue to move from Post-it to Post-it.

Cara Hale Alter is president of SpeechSkills, a San Francisco–based communication training company, and author of The Credibility Code: How to Project Confidence and Competence When It Matters Most (Meritus, 2012). For more information, visit thecredibilitycode.com.

10 steps to teach your child to read

I am always researching tips to help me become a better father.  Out of all of the jobs that I have being a parent is the most rewarding.  I recently found this article very interesting with helpful tips on teaching a child to read.

1.  Read to your child

Teaching your child to read is truly a process that begins at infancy. (No, I am most certainly NOT advocating programs that claim to teach your baby to read using flashcards!) What I AM encouraging you to do is to begin reading with your newborn within days of welcoming her home! Not only is this a special bonding time for the two of you, it instills in her a love for books. Enjoyment while reading is one of the single greatest predictors of reading success in school-age children. If children don’t learn from an early age to enjoy reading, it will most likely hinder their ability sometime down the road.

How much you read to your child is completely up to you and your family, but aim to read at least 3-4 books a day, even while your child is very young. As she gets a little older and can sit for longer stretches of time, make it a family goal to read together for at least 20-minutes each day.

Here are a few suggestions for the types of books to read to your child. But by all means, read whatever your child responds to and enjoys!

  • Birth-1 Year: Lullabies, Board Books (with real pictures), Cloth Books (with various textures), Song Books
  • 1 Year-3 Years: Rhyming Books, Song Books, Short-Story Board Books
  • 3 Years-5 Years: Alphabet Books, Song Books, Picture Books, Rhyming Books

2.  Ask questions

Asking questions while reading to your child is not only great for encouraging your child to interact with the book, but it is also extremely effective in developing his ability tocomprehend what he is reading. You see, if our main objective in “reading” is getting our child to “sound out” words, we have missed the boat entirely. Even children who can decode words and “read” with great fluency still might not be able to comprehend what they are reading. If a child can’t comprehend what he is reading, there really is no point to reading at all!

While your child is a baby, ask him questions such as, “Do you see the cat?” while pointing at the picture of the cat. This will not only develop his vocabulary, it will also encourage him to interact with the book that he is reading. As he gets older, ask him to point to things in the book himself and make the noises of the animals he sees.

Once your child is about 2 or 3-years of age, begin asking questions before, during, and after reading the book. Show your child the cover of the book and ask him what he thinks it is going to be about (predicting). While reading, ask him what he thinks is going to happen or why he thinks a character made a particular choice (inferring). If a character is depicting a strong emotion, identify that emotion and ask your child if he has ever felt that way (connecting). At the end of the book, ask if his prediction(s) came true. Afterwards, ask him to tell you what he remembered happening in the book (summarizing).

Modifying each of these techniques during read-alouds to meet the developmental stage of your child is a great way to promote and increase reading comprehension!

3.  Be a good (reading) example

Even if your child is fascinated with books from an early age, her fascination will quickly dwindle if she does not see reading modeled in her home. If you are not an avid reader yourself, make a conscious effort to let your children see you reading for at least a few minutes each day! Read a magazine, a cookbook, a novel, your Bible…it’s up to you! But show your child that reading is something that even adults need to do. If you have a son, share this article with your husband. Sons need to see their fathers read, especially since it is not something that they are naturally prone to doing.

As parents, we can sometimes get wrapped up with what exactly our children should be doing to be successful. But we often forget that children often learn by example. Grab a book and take a load off…for your child’s sake, of course!

4.  Identify letters in natural settings

Before our boys were born, we painted and hung large wooden letters spelling their name above the cribs as a decorative accent in their rooms.  I would have never guessed that those wooden letters would have such a learning incentive for Big Brother!  Around age 2.5, he began asking what letters were above his name.  That’s honestly how he learned to spell his name…and he can spell his brother’s name too because he has taken an interest in his letters as well.  In technical terms, this is called “environmental print” and includes all of the print we are surrounded by–fast food signs, labels, traffic signs, clothing, magazines, etc.

Often times, we want to force our children to learn letter names by a certain age.  We buy flashcards or DVDs claiming to teach our children their letters.  We drill our 2-year old over and over for minutes on end.  Don’t buy into this…allow your kid to be a kid and take advantage of the “teachable moments” as they come along!  Children’s minds are like sponges and are certainly capable of memorizing the alphabet from drilling, but that’s not the most effective method that will produce the best long-term results. Your child will be curious about the print he sees around him and will ask questions.  That’s your chance to jump in with a practical application that actually has real meaning and significance to your child.

Don’t misunderstand me and think that I don’t think learning the alphabet is important.  It is certainly important…but the method in which we teach them is even more important!  Always keep in mind that our ultimate goal is to foster a lifelong learner who loves to read, not a child who has simply memorized without any significance.

5.  Incorporate multiple domains of development

Children learn best when multiple senses or areas of development are included.  That’s why hands-on learning produces longer retention and more meaningful application.  Once your child has shown an interest in letters and you have already begun to utilize natural settings for identifying those letters, begin implementing activities that incorporate as many senses as possible.  Keep in mind that learning letter names isn’t nearly as important as learning their sounds!

There are a plethora of ways to incorporate multiple domains of development in regards to letter recognition and early-reading skills.  Alphabet crafts allow your child to learn the shape of a letter along with an association of the sound it makes all the while utilizing fine motor skills in the process of cutting, gluing, and creating!   Playing games that involve gross motor skills (like tossing beanbags on the appropriate letter) are also wonderful ways to include movement.  Of course, every child loves songs and rhymes!  Take an inventory of your child’s strengths and areas of interest and target activities to fit them!

6.  Classify the Genre

Once your child is around 5 and can recognize the difference between real and make-believe, I would suggest starting to help your child understand various genres of books during your reading time together.  This might seem complicated, but it’s really not.  There are around 5 different genres of children’s books that I would encourage you to point out to your little one.  Of course you can use the term “type” rather than “genre” if that is easier to remember.

  • Nonfiction (real stories or facts about animals, places, people, etc)
  • Fantasy (make-believe, can’t happen in real life because of magic, talking animals, etc)
  • Realistic Fiction (a made-up story, but it could technically happen in real life because the characters and situations are believable)
  • Alphabet Books 
  • Song Books
 

When children classify a book into a certain genre, they have to first summarize the book in their head and recall details.  Then they have to use that information to decide which type of genre that particular books fits into.  Finally, your child will be recalling details from other books in the same genre, making connections between the two.  This simple activity that might take 5-10 seconds of your time after reading a book but it certainly packs a punch of thought and processing in that young brain!

Also, it’s important to note that not all books will fit into one of these genres, especially books that are considered “phonics readers.”  I would suggest that you do this exercise only with high-quality children’s literature, not with books that are attempting to get your child to “sound-out” on their own.  Most picture books found in children’s libraries will fit into one of these genres.

Remember, our goal is for our children to learn to comprehend what they’re reading…otherwise reading will honestly do them little good.  When we encourage our children to think about and process the book we’ve just read together, we are inadvertently modeling what we hope they’ll one day do independently!

7.  Word Families

To put it simply, word families are words that rhyme.  Teaching children word families is a phonemic awareness activity that helps children see patterns in reading.  This is an important skill because it allows children to begin “reading” by grouping sets of letters within a word.  The first part of a word is called the onset and the last part of the word is conveniently called the rime.  Word families share a similar “rime” as the onset changes.

Once your child recognizes the word “mop”, he’ll then have an advantage to reading all of the other words that have the same rime (top, pop, stop, cop, hop) because only one letter is changing.  Plus, recognizing rhyming words is a great language skill in and of itself!

Check out this Word Family Game
8.  Phonemic Awareness and Phonics
“Phonemes” are the smallest sounds in the English language (go here for a complete list of phonemes).  These sounds are made up of consonants, short vowels, long vowels, and digraphs.  ”Phonemic Awareness” consists of learning those sounds and how to manipulate them within a word.  Digraphs are unique sounds comprised of individual letters like /th/, /sh/, /ch/, etc.
“Phonics” includes learning how to spell those sounds and the various rules that the English language follows.  Phonics is an important components of reading/spelling, but it should never be the main focus.  Again, we are looking to balance our literacy “program” with reading comprehension as the end result.  Learning the rules of phonics is simply a tool that helps a child learn to decode and spell.  I used the Pathways to Reading program in the classroom as my phonemic awareness and phonics program and loved it!  It made learning all of the tricky spellings so much fun, but I wouldn’t recommend it until your child is in kindergarten or first grade.
 
9.  Decoding
Decoding is often referred to as “sounding it out.”  This is an important element in teaching your child to read, but it certainly isn’t the most important.  Once your child knows the sounds each letter makes (which is taught in real, meaningful situations), she is ready to begin putting words together.  When looking at a short word, encourage her to say each individual sound /b/, /a/, /t/,  and then put them together “bat”.
As children decode words with more frequency, they will become more proficient at automatically identifying that word.  Sometimes this task is tedious, though, so it’s important to find creative ways to make it fun.  When I taught first grade, I used to buy little finger puppets that my students could use to point to the letters as they were decoding.  This was a huge hit and made this process so much fun!
Find these finger puppets and more at Oriental Trading
 
10.  Sight Words
Sight words, also known as high-frequency words, are the most common words in our written language are are often difficult to decode phonetically because they don’t follow the rules of phonics.  Because of this, they must be memorized.  As I’ve shared with you before, I am not an advocate of rote memorization for optimal learning because I feel it only utilizes the lowest level of cognitive processes.  However, sight words must be memorized in order for your child to become a fluent reader.  There are a few popular lists of sight words that individual researchers have found beneficial, including the Dolch List and the Fry List.  Don’t get overwhelmed when looking at this list…just start working on a few words at a time when you feel your child is ready.
Activities like Sight Word Bingo can help make memorizing sight words more fun!

As you’ve probably noticed, there is no “magic formula” for teaching your child how to read.  The points we’ve discussed in previous posts have highlighted simple, effective strategies that are easy to modify for your child.  After all, every child learns differently!  This series is not to be used as a “checklist” and think that once you’ve covered all the strategies your child will be proficiently reading.  Rather, this series provides valuable information to you so that you can guide your child while creating a print-rich, learning environment to foster his/her growth as a reader.  Don’t rush and don’t stress!  While it’s important to take advantage of the prime-learning time, it’s even more important to let your kid be a kid!

In summary, here are some practical suggestions you can implement every day based on the strategies shared with you in this post and previous posts.  Obviously, you can’t implement all of these suggestions with children of all ages, so use your judgement about what is best for your child.

  • Read to your child every day!
  • Ask your child questions before, during, and after reading.
  • Let your child see you reading.
  • Look for letters while out and about and in the environment around you.
  • When teaching letters and letter sounds, incorporate as many senses as possible.
  • Read a variety of books and make a game out of guessing the genre.
  • Have fun rhyming!
  • Work on letter sounds and manipulating them within words (phonemic awareness)
  • Encourage your child to sound out short words (consonant, vowel, consonant).
  • Practice memorizing a few sight words each day.
  • Most of all, have fun together!

7 steps to building your business

Here are a few steps to growing your business:
  1. Join one or more business networking groups.
  2. Do business with people who do business with you and let your business partners know that you would appreciate their business as well.
  3. Become involved in your community – this serves your community well and it really expands your relationships at the same time.
  4. Always be on time and provide excellent services to your customers.
  5. Ask your customers if you can use them for a reference.
  6. Ask questions about other peoples’ business wherever you go. People love to talk about what they do – be sincere in finding out what they do. You may not be able to use their service, but might know someone who could. When you give referrals, you get referrals.
  7. Hand out your business cards wherever you go.

10 steps to being a better speaker

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Personally, I enjoy speaking in front of groups and have almost none of the jitters so many other people feel at the prospect of talking to a crowd. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the anxiety they feel, though. Studies show that glossophobia — fear of public speaking — ranks up there with fear of death, spiders, and Rottweilers.

You can relieve your anxiety, though, by practicing, preparing, and following the advice of expert speakers.Toastmasters International has these 10 tips for public speaking:

  1. Study your material. It’s important to know more about your subject than what you are actually planning to speak to in your presentation, which will give you more comfortable with the subject matter and allow you to answer unexpected questions, personalize your speech, and be more fluid and conversational.
  2. Rehearse. Practice your presentation, ideally in the same setting and using the same equipment that you will use when you actually p[resent. Practice with a timer and be prepared for questions or sidebars that unexpectedly use extra time.
  3. Know your audience. Even if you’re talking to strangers, try to meet some before you step up to the front of the room. It’s easier to talk to people you know than a group of anonymous faces.
  4. Scope out the room. Don’t be surprised — arrive early, and know how to operate the AV equipment.
  5. Ease in slowly. Don’t dive into your prepared speech; greet the audience and use that time to calm your nerves.
  6. Use visualization techniques. This might sound like it’s straight out of the Age of Aquarius, but it works. Imagine yourself speaking clearly and confidently. Visualize getting applause – it will boost your confidence.
  7. Know that the audience wants you to succeed. The audience really is rooting for you. After all, they want to enjoy themselves and learn something. No one hopes to be bored by a poor speaker.
  8. Don’t apologize. For anything. If you’re nervous, just push through and the audience probably won’t even notice.
  9. Concentrate on the message. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
  10. Gain experience. Of course, the more experience you have, the more confident you will be. Especially if you are a reluctant speaker, seek out opportunities to talk to groups to bolster your skill and your confidence.

Why you have fewer than 20 friends

My average day is completely filled with people. From the moment I wake up, I’m constantly reading peoples’ opinions, emailing, messaging, chatting, tweeting, meeting, skyping, and texting. All told, my social network (physical and digital) spans about 30,000 people.

I’ve come to realize that connections, acquaintances, and friendships serve fundamentally different functions and require radically different approaches. In fact, I believe you can only have 20 real friends in your life.

All relationships start as a connection. You met somewhere, digitally or otherwise. This phase of the relationship is about context and awareness. Who is this person? What are her values? What bucket do I put him in? We really like to get past this phase quickly because it’s extremely awkward, and most connections are wasteful (i.e., don’t lead to anything meaningful). We try desperately to take shortcuts by running through a litany of possible shared experiences that would allow us to categorize the relationship. School? Hometown? Job? Accomplishments? Shared relationships? Without commonalities, it’s almost impossible for the relationship to progress.

Once a commonality is found, the relationship can progress to the acquaintance phase. This is where almost all of our “friendships” reside. We organize acquaintances into categories based on the type of value they add. My categories include business, church, family, travel, hometown, and certain special categories of interest, like golf, wine, and entrepreneurship. By the time people make it into these categories, I generally know who they are and what they do. I have interacted with them, usually more than once. I have a general trust and respect for them. I would help them (to a degree) if asked. I appreciate them for the value they add to my life. I don’t go out of my way to interact with them. I don’t feel responsibility for their happiness. I don’t usually have conflict with them. I generally enjoy our interactions.

Does this sound cold and sterile? It probably does, because most of our relationships are exactly that. They are based on limited interactions and a specific type of value. That doesn’t make them worthless or unattractive. They just are what they are. We have a limited amount of resources (most importantly, time) to invest, and we must choose wisely to get the largest return on that investment (and I’m not speaking economically).

True friendship is strange, difficult, and deeply rewarding. In some ways, it’s indescribable. Many poets and people far smarter than me have written volumes on the subject. All I can do is provide some context to describe a true friendship.

A friend understands you, including your faults, beliefs, prejudices, aspirations, and frustrations. A friendship is dynamic and ever-evolving. It molds to both friends’ needs. It supports both your lives. A friend helps you maintain your principles, never asking you to bend or break them. A true friend inspires and encourages you to live up to your potential. A friend speaks truth into your life, which is sometimes hard truth. It’s said that “good advice grates on the ear,” but a friend won’t resist. Ultimately, friendship is a mutual agreement to take partial responsibility for the happiness in each other’s lives. This unspoken contract provides a bond and sense of fulfillment that cannot be achieved any other way.

How many people fit that definition in your life? The number likely hovers under 10, and it definitely includes fewer than 20. I arrive at those numbers based on the sheer amount of resources required to maintain a friendship. It’s incredibly hard – and incredibly rewarding.

By understanding how we should truly classify our relationships, we can become far more productive and effective socially, emotionally, and economically.

Brent Beshore is the CEO of AdVentures , ranked #28 on the 2011 Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in the U.S.

Building a strong relationship with your children

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Building a healthy relationship with your child begins with choices you make each day.

  • When you take the time to listen to your child, instead of brushing her off, you are building connections.
  • When you respond in a manner that validates her feelings instead of invalidating them, you are teaching her to be caring.
  • When you help her to choose appropriate actions, you are helping her to be more competent.

Coaching Tips

  • Connect instead of disconnect.
  • Assist instead of taking over.
  • Listen rather than lecture.
  • Stop firmly rather than grabbing or jerking.
  • Help instead of abandon.
  • Explain instead of force.
  • State rather than shriek.
  • Smile more, frown less.
  • Think about your relationship in the long run.
  • Start with a single step.

Read more on FamilyEducation: http://life.familyeducation.com/parenting/discipline/36653.html#ixzz23kXEozGF

10 Ways to be more Charismatic

Some people instantly make us feel important. Some people instantly make us feel special. Some people light up a room just by walking in.

We can’t always define it, but some people have it: They’re naturally charismatic.

Unfortunately, natural charisma quickly loses its impact. Familiarity breeds, well, familiarity.

But some people are remarkably charismatic: They build and maintain great relationships, consistently influence (in a good way) the people around them, consistently make people feel better about themselves–they’re the kind of people everyone wants to be around…and wants to be.

Fortunately we can, because being remarkably charismatic isn’t about our level of success or our presentation skills or how we dress or the image we project–it’s about what we do.

Here are the 10 habits of remarkably charismatic people:

1. They listen way more than they talk.

Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond–not so much verbally, but nonverbally.

That’s all it takes to show the other person they’re important.

Then when you do speak, don’t offer advice unless you’re asked. Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice, because when you offer advice in most cases you make the conversation about you, not them.

Don’t believe me? Who is “Here’s what I would do…” about: you or the other person?

Only speak when you have something important to say–and always define importantas what matters to the other person, not to you.

2. They don’t practice selective hearing.

Some people–I guarantee you know people like this–are incapable of hearing anything said by the people they feel are somehow beneath them.

Sure, you speak to them, but that particular falling tree doesn’t make a sound in the forest, because there’s no one actually listening.

Remarkably charismatic people listen closely to everyone, and they make all of us, regardless of our position or social status or “level,” feel like we have something in common with them.

Because we do: We’re all people.

3. They put their stuff away.

Don’t check your phone. Don’t glance at your monitor. Don’t focus on anything else, even for a moment.

You can never connect with others if you’re busy connecting with your stuff, too.

Give the gift of your full attention. That’s a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you and remember you.

4. They give before they receive–and often they never receive.

Never think about what you can get. Focus on what you can provide. Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.

Focus, even in part and even for a moment, on what you can get out of the other person, and you show that the only person who really matters is you.

5. They don’t act self-important…

The only people who are impressed by your stuffy, pretentious, self-important self are other stuffy, pretentious, self-important people.

The rest of us aren’t impressed. We’re irritated, put off, and uncomfortable.

And we hate when you walk in the room.

6. …Because they realize other people are more important.

You already know what you know. You know your opinions. You know your perspectives and points of view.

That stuff isn’t important, because it’s already yours. You can’t learn anything from yourself.

But you don’t know what other people know, and everyone, no matter who they are, knows things you don’t know.

That makes them a lot more important than you–because they’re people you can learn from.

7. They shine the spotlight on others.

No one receives enough praise. No one. Tell people what they did well.

Wait, you say you don’t know what they did well?

Shame on you–it’s your job to know. It’s your job to find out ahead of time.

Not only will people appreciate your praise, they’ll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they’re doing.

Then they’ll feel a little more accomplished and a lot more important.

8. They choose their words.

The words you use impact the attitude of others.

For example, you don’t have to go to a meeting; you get to go meet with other people. You don’t have to create a presentation for a new client; you get to share cool stuff with other people. You don’t have to go to the gym; you get to work out and improve your health and fitness.

We all want to associate with happy, enthusiastic, fulfilled people. The words you choose can help other people feel better about themselves–and make you feel better about yourself, too.

9. They don’t discuss the failings of others…

Granted, we all like hearing a little gossip. We all like hearing a little dirt.

The problem is, we don’t necessarily like–and we definitely don’t respect–the people who dish that dirt.

Don’t laugh at other people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you sometimes laugh at them.

10. …But they readily admit their failings.

Incredibly successful people are often assumed to have charisma simply because they’re successful. Their success seems to create a halo effect, almost like a glow.

Keyword is seem.

You don’t have to be incredibly successful to be remarkably charismatic. Scratch the shiny surface, and many successful people have all the charisma of a rock.

But you do have to be incredibly genuine to be remarkably charismatic.

Be humble. Share your screwups. Admit your mistakes. Be the cautionary tale. And laugh at yourself.

While you should never laugh at other people, you should always laugh at yourself.

People won’t laugh at you. People will laugh laugh with you.

They’ll like you better for it–and they’ll want to be around you a lot more.

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up fromghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden