This is the second of the three Top 5 posts you will read this month on theBarronBlog – (click here for the first.)  Today’s Top 5 is around the theme of productivity.  Growth in this area simply means that you are more efficient.  You can get more done in less time.  With more time saved, you can improve your work/life balance – be a better spouse, parent, or friend.  Invest in your relationships.  Live a healthier life.  You can do it, and the posts below can help!

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But First…

Before you get to the posts below, I want to remind you of my favorite discovery of 2012 – The Dollar Shave Club.  This ingenious company produces a great product at an awesome price, and ships razors to your door every month.  No more over-paying for razors.  No more spending time at the store buying them.  I endorse this product 100%.  Guys, do yourself a favor and check it out for yourself here.  Ladies, my mom as well as some of my friends’ wives have signed up their husbands – great gift idea!  Click here for more info (this is an affiliate link, but I do not recommend anything that I do not use myself.)

Top 5 Productivity Posts of 2012

The 5 Steps to a Paperless Office – The key to pulling that off was having a paperless office.  All my data is in the cloud.  All my data is accessible to me anywhere my iPhone has a signal.  I can access it on the fly.  It means I can jump on opportunities with lightning speed.  And speed kills.  Read more…

How to Shave 30 Minutes a Day Managing Email – Email has now become a drug, and we are addicted.  As a major form of communication in the Commercial Real Estate industry, many CRE practitioners feel like they must check their smart phone every five minutes.  Show of hands:  who checks their phone before they even get out of bed?  Guilty here.  Read more…

The 17 Rules of Email Etiquette – My biggest beef with email is its ability to interrupt me.  The nature of my business requires me to be doing multiple things.  I am not a natural multi-tasker.  I much prefer to hone in on a task and focus all my energy on it.  I rarely get to do this.  I am also easily distracted.  The ding and notification that announces every email can cost me 5 – 60 minutes if I let it.  I routinely get 200+ emails a day.  That equates to 200+ opportunities to be distracted from what is important to what is less important but potentially urgent. Read more…

My Tools to Manage Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day – Let me clarify.  In one of my previous posts – The Rule of Thirds – I shared the 3 types of tweets that you should be using:  curating original or other great content, engaging with others, and getting a little personal.  The key to the first category of curating original or other great content is getting the tweets done and scheduled at one time.  Read more…

The 7 Rules of Conference Call Etiquette – Alas, the conference call is still sometimes a necessity.  On a recent call, there were 2 different people trying to lead the call (one of them was me).  There were over a dozen people on the call from 4 different time zones.  I couldn’t tell who was speaking.  People were talking over each other.  It was a free-for-all.  Read more…

So as we wrap of the year, what are the areas in your life where you have seen the most growth in productivity?

Recently, I’ve been on a number of conference calls with groups of people scattered across the United States.  My preference is to do video calls.  Especially now that there are so many good technologies like Google+ hangouts, GoToMeeting, WebEx, and others.

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Alas, the conference call is still sometimes a necessity.  On a recent call, there were 2 different people trying to lead the call (one of them was me).  There were over a dozen people on the call from 4 different time zones.  I couldn’t tell who was speaking.  People were talking over each other.  It was a free-for-all.

I had another conference call that I led two days ago that went like clock-work.  26 minutes and we were done.  What was the difference?  I followed these rules.

The 7 Rules of Conference Call Etiquette

  1. There must be a clear leader/moderator of the call – This is the person that keeps the call on track.  Time is valuable.  When you multiply the time spent on a call times the number of people on the call, multiples of hours are spent on a conference call.  There has to be a driver of the bus.
  2. There must be an agenda – Not only must there be an agenda, but it needs to be in front of everyone.  The agenda keeps the meeting on track, and allows all on the call to know the purpose of the call.  It gives direction.
  3. Announce yourself – This was the single biggest difference between the “free-for-all” call and the quick and efficient one.  Announcing yourself when you speak has two huge benefits.  First, it is polite to let those on the call know who is speaking since they can’t see you.  Don’t assume people know the sound of your voice.  Second, it almost entirely eliminates interruptions. I was surprised by this, but think about it.  You aren’t as likely to cut someone off or talk over someone if you are announcing who you are first.  “This is Jack from Ohio and I’m going to interrupt you now.”
  4. Keep the group as small as possible – This is common sense.  So what do you do if you have a large group?  Divide them up.  We are planning a national conference with over a dozen people on the call.  One of our team had the brilliant idea to break into smaller teams depending on which day of the conference you had responsibility.  We now have 2 calls instead of 1, but the groups are smaller and it is so much easier to make decisions and get off the call quickly.
  5. Practice impeccable phone etiquette – There is nothing worse on a call than background noise.  Typing is heard.  A side conversation is happening.  The background noise kills the mojo of the call and is simply rude.  It is so easy to be distracted on a call like this and start checking email, etc.  I get it.  Just make sure your line is muted.
  6. Make sure you have a good connection – Cell phones are tricky.  Regardless of my love for Verizon, sometimes I will still have a bad connection. If at all possible, dial in from a landline.  I am not a fan of VOIP in this context.
  7. Set these ground rules and the beginning of the call – This is the leader’s job.  At the beginning of the call, the leader should welcome everyone and then lay out the ground rules.  Don’t assume that those on the call understand the guidelines for a quick and efficient call.  The leader’s role is huge in setting the tone, keeping the call on track, and making sure that everyone is engaged.  If someone is not speaking up, call them out and invite them to share their thoughts.

A parting thought – if more than one person is in charge of something, then no one is.  I’m sure that is someone else’s quote, but I don’t know who.  It is so true.  A conference call is held because a group is trying to accomplish a task.  Ensure that each part of that task is owned by someone.  Then hold them accountable for the results.

I want to hear the horror stories of terrible conference calls that you have been on.  What rules have I missed?  Share with us!

Top 5 CRE Posts of 2012

December 17, 2012 — 6 Comments

It is that time of year when we pause and reflect.  Over the remaining days of 2012, I will be posting my “Top Posts” of 2012 in the categories of Commercial Real Estate, technology, and productivity.  Even though I just started blogging in earnest in Sept, we have over 50 posts to choose from in these categories.

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Quick Announcement

If you have not done so already, I invite you to sign up to follow this blog via email.  You can click on the link to the right to sign up.  I am working on some exciting projects for 2013, and this is the way to find out first.  You will also be notified every time there is a new post.

Top 5 CRE Posts of 2012

The Difference Between a CRE Broker and a Drug Dealer – Here’s what I mean.  To say that I am a Commercial Real Estate Broker I would literally say:  ”I am a broker in the buying and selling of real estate.”  The problem is that the word for real estate is also the word for illegal drugs.  So, if you don’t know me or have any context to give you a clue, you would not know if I’m saying that I’m a CRE broker or a drug dealer.  Context is everything.  Read more…

The 8 Steps to a Killer Prospecting System – I want to clarify what I mean by prospecting.  Prospecting is a form of business development.  Networking and building a presence – or a platform – is another form of business development.  Their activities are similar.  Their purpose is completely different.  (To read about the difference between prospecting and networking, click here.)  Prospecting involves asking for the business.  That is its only purpose.  Read more…

The Difference Between Top Producers and the Others – In my coaching business with the Massimo Group, I have also had the great privilege of coach CRE throughout the United States and Canada.  From the catbird’s seat, I have gotten to see what top producers do that all the others do not. Read more…

The 12 Keys to Becoming a Top Producer – Faster!  Part 1 – The Commercial Real Estate industry – or any industry really – is often so different from the Marine Corps.  I’m specifically thinking about advancement – growth – achievement.  In the Marines, there was a formula for promotion – at least at the lower enlisted ranks.  I knew exactly how to earn promotion.  Read more…

The 12 Keys to Becoming a Top Producer – Faster!  Part 2 – Top producers are team oriented.  Top Producers are not loners.  They don’t try to do everything.  They understand the value of a team.  And not only just having a team, but maximizing the production of that team.  Rod Santomassimo discusses this in his best-selling CRE book – Brokers Who Dominate.  Beyond the fact that I am profiled – along with about 22 others – this is must reading for any CRE practitioner.  Read more…

As I began this post, this is the time of year to reflect.  What were your Top 5 most productive activities this year?  Please share them with us.  We’d love to learn from you!

I hope that you have a mentor.  I have been blessed to have a number of men in my life that have fulfilled this role for me.  You can learn so much from mistakes and experience.  You can also learn from the mistakes and experiences of others.  I prefer the latter.

Having problem concept

A couple of years ago I was having lunch with one of my mentors.  This guy has been wildly successful.  He owns numerous businesses.  He has a great marriage – great family.  Like my dad, he is someone I want to emulate.  I was peppering him with questions.  He told me a story that surprised me.

Years ago, he had somewhat plateaued in his businesses.  He was working too much.  Progress was not being made.  He felt like he had hit a brick wall that he couldn’t break through.  He had a conversation with a mentor of his and asked him what he was doing wrong.  The mentor replied, “The problem with your businesses is you.”

Sobering statement.  My mentor was initially angry.  How could he be the problem?  No one worked harder than him!  He was the leader of these businesses.

I think that every entrepreneur reaches this point.  Characteristics like passion, vision, integrity, hard work, and others are what lead to initial success.  After a while though, the entrepreneur or leader of a business becomes the log-jam.  Nothing gets done with his/her touch. John Maxwell calls this the Law of the Lid.  The business cannot grow past the leadership ability of the leader.  The entrepreneur ends up being his own biggest problem.

At this point, two options exist:  enjoy the plateau or learn to replicate yourself in your business.  In other words, learn to delegate.

I am going to assume that you chose the second option.  The best organization at delegation and reproduction is the Marine Corps.  The Marines regularly take 18-year-old kids and turn them into the best fighting force on the planet.  While you might think that the Marine Corps has a very traditional hierarchical system, it is actually very decentralized.  Twenty year old corporals on the front lines have the training and ability to make decisions on the fly.  Here is how they do it.

Commander’s Intent

I want to acknowledge up front that the Military in general is not good at communicating the “why.”  I rarely knew the big picture.  I suggest that you run your business with the “why” constantly out in front of your team members.

That said, the commander’s intent is the “what.”  This is the directive that comes from on high that says take that hill.  The Commander does not come and tell anyone how to do.  He simply gives the directive.

We recently built a database of all the Dollar Stores in Kentucky.  I gave the directive to my executive assistant to find me the location, physical data, owner, and contact information on every store.  She had the training and tools to accomplish this.  She did not need me hawking and micro-managing.

Rules of Engagement

Remember in the movie Top Gun when Maverick and Goose were in the dog fight with the fictitious MIG-28 at the beginning of the movie?  Their Commander kept telling them “Do not fire unless fired upon!”  (You can see the cigar in his hand, can’t you?)

Rules of engagement tell you what you can and can’t do.  This is where delegation really works.  The best kinds of rules for a team member are the ones that explain what is not acceptable.  In other words, if you can define the boundaries of what is not OK, then everything in that box is OK.

Now your team members have the “Commander’s Intent” or the task to accomplish, and they understand the boundaries.  Within those boundaries, they are free to accomplish the task with great creativity and resourcefulness – and without you staring over their shoulder all the time.

How would these principles of delegation impact the team that you lead?  Are you the lid on your business?  I invite you to share with us in the comments how you could implement these principles in your business.

If you are always the head of the class, then you’re in the wrong class.  The best place to learn is always where others are ahead of you.  ~ John Maxwell from his new best seller The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

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Friday Quote to Motivate: Head of the Class