Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Working Out for You?

What we can learn from Easter, Passover and the Boston Marathon
Rebirth and redemption. It’s in the air this time of year as many of you who observed Easter or Passover last week can attest. Spring has finally come to most northern regions of the country. Major League Baseball is underway and a nearly 39 year-old runner, an American no less, won yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

The 118th running of America’s most famous footrace went off without a hitch under near-perfect weather conditions. There were too many tales of personal and civic redemption to recount here. Suffice it to say that more than one million spectators lined the famous course—about twice the normal crowd—to cheer runners of all shapes, sizes and mobility types on. Even a hardened cynic had to be moved by the size of the crowd after last year’s bombings maimed and injured so many runners and spectators and psychologically scarred the city of Boston. Rather than giving up, the city and the running community came back stronger than before.

If you don’t follow distance running, Meb Keflezighi, who turns 39 in two weeks, became the first American winner of the race since 1983 and oldest winner in 84 years. A low-income child of Eritrean immigrants, his best years were thought to be behind him after injuries derailed his Olympic aspirations and his longtime shoe sponsor dropped him.

If at first you don’t succeed, adjust your goals

Yet there he was crossing the finish line about 10-15 seconds ahead of world-class Kenyan and Ethiopian runners wearing bright red Skechers no less, a brand normally associated with the skateboarding and casual wear crowd.

At this point, you’re probably expecting us to exhort to follow your dreams and never give up. Nope, just set more reasonable goals. Pursue those goals with all you’ve got, but don’t be afraid to make constant adjustments.

As many of you know, we advocate getting at least a one-month head start on your resolutions (see our popular December 6 blog post) and revisiting those goals several times throughout the year. It doesn’t matter how lofty or modest your goals are. You need tangible metrics to show progress and make them stick. Click here for more reasons why the vast majority of resolutions don’t stick.

If your goal was to hit the gym every day in 2014, don’t tell yourself you failed if you’re only making it two twice a week. Make those two sessions really count when you go, and maybe shoot for an average of three times per week by mid-year. If your goal was to bring in three new clients every quarter, and you just brought in one, don’t chalk that up as a failure. Celebrate that you signed on a new client. Make sure you serve that new client really well, and shoot for two new clients next quarter. By the way, if you’re serving that one new client really well, word will get around, and chances are an unexpected referral or two will find its way to your firm.

How Meb did it

Despite being nearly 40, Keflezighi knew he could still run with the world’s best, even though his chances of breaking the world record, or even the Boston course record were no longer likely. So he set up a plan to stay within striking distance of the lead pack, and if the race became tactical, rather than a suicidal exercise in attrition, then he could make a decisive move in the hilliest part of the course—half a dozen miles from the finish—and distance himself from the pack before they could reel him back in. That’s what he did—despite stomach cramps—and he held on for a historic win on a historic day.

We’re about one-third of the way through 2014 and this is one of those “Gut Check” times. So take a short lunchtime stroll if the weather’s nice. Open the windows instead of cranking the A/C and let’s get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose. You’ll be glad you did.

Have a great week. HB

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.


Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

TAGS: Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi, New Years resolutions, Skechers, setting reasonable goals, Easter and Passover rebirth redemption

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Young Workers Aren’t as Smart as they Think They Are

But they’re smarter than the rest of us

If you think the youngest generation of workers is hard to comprehend sometimes, you’re not alone. About two-thirds of companies around the world consider themselves deficient in developing millennial leadership according to
Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends. And less than one in twenty companies (5%) rated themselves as “excellent” in that area.

Part of the trouble with developing young talent, Deloitte says, is that millennials—generally considered to be those in the 18-35 age group--approach their careers very differently than previous generations. They expect to rise fast, and if they don’t, they look for other opportunities. Deloitte’s data showed that only 55 percent of millennials say they are loyal to their companies (compared to 69 percent of other generations). This means it’s important for companies to find ways to help young talent see the opportunities within their companies.

Our Take: If you have disgruntled, underperforming or otherwise disengaged young people on your payroll, talk a closer look at the manager or your hiring practices. Most employees, particularly young people, come into a new job with a strong work ethic and the best of intentions. Something has to happen along the way to derail them. In most cases, they’re not in the right job, they’re not working for the right type of manager or they’re not assigned to the right kind of team.

Here’s more from the Deloitte research:

1. Millennials want face time. 
Spending time with senior leadership is one way to convince employees that they, too, could eventually rise to that level.

2. They want to jump around. Millennials in the business world are fickle. They want to explore new opportunities far more quickly than past generations. They’re not necessarily job hoppers, but they value the opportunity to move around organizations—not just for promotions, but also horizontally. An employee who spends a year in sales might appreciate the opportunity to work in a different department for a while if their skills are a fit. And if that employee has leadership potential, it’s all the more valuable to the organization to give them a better-rounded look at the company.

3. They need a different type of manager. Research says organizations need to shift the mindset of what a good manager does away from hitting those departmental goals—which rely on what he calls talent consumption (or, put less kindly, talent hoarding)—to graduating employees into better positions—or talent production. That shift would serve to give companies a better sense for their managers’ talent development skills while giving young talent the opportunity to grow.

Our Take: Here’s what we’ve learned here at HB. Millennials are like young workers of the past in some regards: They want to be challenged right away and to find meaningful work right away. They are highly motivated and willing to work long hours—IF they see a potential payoff (not necessarily monetary). They are highly adaptable. They don’t think their elders “paid their dues” as much as their elders claim they did. They think the academic world is directly transferable to the real-world (i.e. book knowledge directly applies, everything is fair and everyone at the company is as smart and motivated as they are).

Here are some ways in which we’ve found millenials are different. Obviously, they are far more technologically savvy than the rest of us. They should be. They’re digital natives, not digital adopters, who grew up with technology, mobile and social etc.—they didn’t really have to learn it. They only try to perfect it.

Contrary to popular opinion, Millennials WILL pick up the phone and talk to people and they will network and meet people face-to-face. Texting and social media is their preferred form of communication, but they will use more traditional forms of communication if their job requires it. The upside is they tend to be fast learners. Give them a little training and guidance and they will not only rise to the challenge, they will do it well.

While there is no shortage of 20-something CEOs heading multibillion dollar tech startups, it’s not all about the money for this generation. They want meaningful work and real-life experiences—they tend to be less about the money than their Boomer parents and Gen X elders. Even those working at law firms, investment banks and tech startups want work/life balance. And while the stereotype is that Millennials are not “joiners”—i.e. they don’t automatically join their industry trade association, professional society, community board or religious organization--they will join communities, both real and virtual ones, if the community can convince them of the true value in belonging.


Remember, Millennials come out of school with a built in network of connections that’s hundreds of times larger than the networks previous generations had so early in life. They don’t need to join an organization just for networking purposes.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.


TAGS: Millennials in the workplace, recruiting and retaining talent, Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends,

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Our Most Popular Posts of the First Quarter

It’s hard to believe we’re one fourth of the way through 2014, but it’s true. There’s never a dull moment on the political, economic, meteorological or sports fronts. And hopefully your business is experiencing the stress that comes with growing pains and pent up demand. Using our most popular blog posts as a barometer, your biggest concerns seem to be around managing staff, managing your time and understanding decision-making patterns.

Top 5 Posts: Jan-Mar 2014

5. Skill vs. Luck in Investing, Business and Tomorrow’s Big Games
Source: HB Publishing & Marketing Company, LLC 2014

Here are the key takeaways:

·         It pays to have your best people do their best work wherever and whenever they can be most efficient and least stressed. It’s no longer a matter of home vs. office; it’s about home AND office--and setting reasonable boundaries for both environments.

·        Friendly office pools can be great morale boosters and teach you a lot about your co-workers risk-tolerance, decision making strategies and comfort with ambiguity. Just keep the stakes modest.

·        True thought leaders are consistent, disciplined and concise. They respect the message recipient’s time, they deliver on what they promise and they always return favors.

·        Get your staff invested in your business, not just in raises, job titles and perks. The more they feel like stakeholders instead of employees, the more likely they’ll go the extra mile for you.

·       Great innovators, leaders and coaches know that good luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. They also know why they’re successful and they have systems in place for making their success persistent and repeatable.

Treat your people the right way and they’ll treat you, your clients and your board the right way in return—many times over.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: benefits of working from home, what March Madness pools teach us, manage talent not job descriptions, skill vs. luck


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Combining Video and Articles for Greater Impact with Clients

Most research and media buzz suggests that video is the killer app for business and professional thought leadership. So throw away your pencils, pens and keyboard? Not so fast. What we’re finding here I the real world is that video can be a great complement to your website, articles, blogs, newsletter and white papers—not a replacement for them. Several of our clients are seeing an uptick in video views when they include text-based summaries of the videos adjacent to, or beneath, the player. And they’re also seeing more engagement time on their websites when a thought leadership article or blog posts links to a video for more information and explanation.

Real world case studies

Here’s an article about innovation that we did for a client that works with hundreds of North American trade associations and professional societies.  And here’s the video companion to the article that shows outtakes from experts who were interviewed in the article and also references links to the full article at the end. Here’s how we help another client, a wealth management firm, produce two combined text and video blog posts each week.

The pros about video

Video is definitely cool and can be effective for moving prospects through the purchase consideration funnel. According to the Animoto Online and Mobile Video Study released earlier this month, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of prospects are more likely to purchase a product or service if they can watch a video explaining it beforehand. According to research by Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. we are also drawn to video because there is a brain function that hardwires us to use the human face as a gathering point for information and believability. Also, Weinschenk’s research says that voice conveys rich information, that emotions are contagious and that movement grabs our attention.

The cons about video

But, video also takes more time to prepare than dashing off a written piece. If it’s not done well, it can be far more damaging to your reputation, especially in today’s viral media age. Many firms spend a great deal of time so on video capture (and script), but they underestimate the importance of good lighting and high quality audio, which pretty much kills your chances of engagement. Also, some of your “stream averse” prospects may be hesitant to launch your video player since they’re so used to having their browsers co-opted by mandatory pre-roll commercials on the popular websites they visit. Finally, it’s harder in video form to do key takeaways or summary bullet points than it is in written form. Scanning or summarizing a video isn’t easy and that can be a killer for today’s time-pressed professionals.

Finally, video takes practice. Some folks, no matter how many books, speeches or lectures they’ve written about their area of expertise, will tense up when they’re on camera. You need to budget for multiple “takes” when shooting and for “expert” responses that may be briefer and less detailed than you’re accustomed to.


Like so many other things in life, it’s not a matter or either/or, it’s more a matter of either AND or. There’s a time, place and customer segment for each tool in your marketing arsenal.  Embrace the choice and take the time to do it right whether you’re streaming, writing, posting or speaking. You’ll be glad you did.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: video vs. text, Animoto, Susan Weinschenk


Sunday, March 16, 2014

What Business Professionals Can Learn from March Madness Basketball Pools

With March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day and spring fever upon us, tomorrow may not be a hugely productive day at the office. But the morale-building and camaraderie that results from these unofficial national holidays could be priceless if you’re smart about it. As many of you know, we love Guinness stout and several of us are ardent home brewers here at HB, but let’s focus on basketball for today.

The annual NCAA Men’s National Basketball Tournament (aka March Madness) starts later this week. It’s an annual rite of spring. Co-workers who wouldn’t know a free throw from a free fall; or who couldn’t find Gonzaga, Butler and Valparaiso Universities on a map if their life depended on it, suddenly start rooting themselves hoarse for the Zags, the Bulldogs and the Crusaders if they have those schools in their tournament brackets. You can’t make this up!

Just as the Super Bowl commercials have become as big as the NFL championship game itself, filling out NCAA tournament brackets--and predicting the shocking upsets that inevitably occur--has taken on a life of its own apart from the action on the court.

HR lessons from hoops?

Even the spoilsports in your HR department will generally look the other way, as concerns over illicit gambling pale in comparison to the morale building, relationship building and friendly competition that “filling out the brackets” creates around the office. Odds are you won’t win your pool. But , seeing mild-mannered Nancy from accounting--who filled out her bracket based on each team’s colors--finish 23 points ahead of Tim and Dwayne, who played varsity basketball in college. That’s priceless!

The pools also teach you a lot about behavioral finance and human nature. Who are the big risk takers in the office and who are the “Johnny Favorites” who follow the “wisdom of the crowd” and play it safe each round? You get to see who relies on complex algorithms to make their picks and who relies on gut instinct (i.e. Sunbelt teams do better on the road than northern teams if playing within 100 miles of home). Who hedges their bets with five separate pools filled out a week in advance, and who fills out a single pool on a whim 15 minutes before the opening “play in” games start?

According to SHRM, the Society for Human Resources Management, 81 percent of employers say they do not have a policy regulating office pools like those that come with the NCAA tournament. That data was collected during last year’s tournament and marks a big shift from 2010, when 67 percent of employers said they had an office policy. (Of the companies that do have policies, only 7 percent claim to have ever disciplined an employee.)

What’s more, HR professionals agree that office pools actually have a positive workplace effect. About 70 percent say they play a positive role in relationship building at their companies, 64 percent say they help with team building, and 54 percent said they even increase employee engagement.

Now we’re not encouraging employees to wager (and lose) life-changing amounts of money, and we certainly don’t want those with gambling addictions to fill out pools, but as SHRM discovered through its research, employees huddled around, keeping track of scores, talking about something other than work — it’s not hard to see how March Madness could ultimately help build these connections.

As Inc. Magazine reported recently, “You might notice a small downtick in productivity during the Madness, consider your laissez-faire approach to office pools an investment in creating the kind of longer-term engagement that will more than make up for it down the road.” Amen to that.


So who are we picking to win it all? Stay tuned. DISCLOSURE: One of our largest clients is based in Gainesville, Florida—home of the top ranked Florida Gators—and another client is on the board of UF's Warrington College of Business Administration, but don’t make automatic assumptions about our “bracketology” leanings.

Enjoy the tourney. Have a great week. Erin Go Bragh!

Tags: March Madness, Society for Human Resource Management, SHRM, bracketology, NCAA Basketball, Florida Gators, St. Patrick’s Day, bracketology



Sunday, March 09, 2014

Best (and Worst) Times to Do Things at Work, Part 2

Many of you commented on last week’s post about the best and worst times of day to get things done at work. So we thought we'd further deconstruct the “ideal workday” as per Jenna McGregor’s recent article in the Washington Post.

In case you missed Part 1, we took you through the ideal morning work schedule according to the experts cited by McGregor. Today we’ll weigh in on the afternoon portion of the so-called ideal work day.

·         6 - 8 am. Send email. 

·         8 am. Make decisions about ethical dilemmas.

·         9 am. Avoid scheduling meetings.

·         1 - 2 pm. Don't make cold calls (especially on Friday).

·         2:30 or 3 pm. Schedule meetings (especially if it's Tuesday!).

·         4 pm. Do tasks that don't involve sending e-mail. 

·         4 - 6 p.m. Avoid sitting for an interview

·         6 pm to late evening. Do your creative work, if you're a morning person (yes, when you’re most likely to be tired)

1 - 2 p.m.
 Don't make cold calls (especially on Friday). McGregor cited research by James Oldroyd, "the mad scientist of cold calling," showing that unsolicited calls are worst if made between 1 and 2 p.m. and far more successful if made in the late afternoon (between 4 and 5 p.m.) or first thing in the morning (8 to 9 a.m.).

Our Take:
On the surface, we agree with Oldroyd’s time recommendations, but WHY THE HECK ARE YOU EVEN MAKING COLD CALLS? If you haven’t done your research, obtained a qualified lead or referral, or even made a legit LinkedIn connection with a prospect, then you’re wasting your time making cold calls any time of day. If you must go the cold call route then do it very early in the morning or after 5pm, when the decision maker’s “gatekeeper” has gone home for the day. 

4 p.mDon’t do tasks that don't involve sending e-mail.  According to HubSpot’s analysis of several million email messages, 4 p.m. has the lowest click-through rate of any time of day. The rationale? That’s when people hurry to get out of the office and check things off their list before heading out the door. "Late in the day is bad," HubSpot says. "People’s brains are fried, and they're trying to clear things off in a cursory way."

Our Take: WRONG! 4pm to 6pm is the “Sunday afternoon” of the workweek. This is when people are regrouping from the day and trying to wind down before going home and hopefully set up for tomorrow.

6 p.m. to late evening. Do creative work, if you're a morning person. Taylor and Francis research claims that people do their best creative thinking when they're tired. That’s right. When their tired! Researchers argue that creative thinking requires us to approach problems from a different perspective, which is actually harder to do when we're clear-headed and can only see the obvious answer.

Our take: A great idea can strike at anytime, anyplace anywhere—just ask top innovators who keep notepads or voice recorders near them when taking showers, swimming laps, mowing the lawn or jogging. Your best creative work comes when you’re in a fluid state of mind, free from the daily friction of emails, meetings, conference calls and budgeting.


We all have stuff we love to do and we all have stuff we hate to do. The main thing is we all have a heck of a lot to do. Many of you are familiar with the Four D’s: Do It, Delay It, Delegate It or Destroy It. We’ve found that to be effective for many of our clients as well as the Eisenhower Matrix: Urgent & Important; Urgent & Not Important; Important & Not Urgent and Not Important & Not Urgent.

Bottom line: If you’re engaged in your work, you’ll find the energy to get it done almost any time of day, whether at home, at the office or on the road. If you’re not engaged, or you’re not feeding off your colleague’s energy, then you’ll just keep finding excuses for NOT getting things done.
Last week’s post touched on the high intensity/frequent break “interval” approach we use here at HB. If you have an athletic background, we strongly recommend it.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: Jenna McGregor, ideal time to get things done at work, Hubspot, Taylor and Francis, James Oldroyd, interval approach, work hard frequent break; Eisenhower Matrix, Four D’s


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The best (and worst) times to do things at work, Part 1

Not a morning person? Don’t sweat it. You might actually be more productive than your early-riser counterparts. Washington Post columnist, Jenna McGregor recently explored the latest research on the best (and worst) times of day to get things done at work and compiled a master day planner based on what the time management experts said. McGregor’s article has been making media rounds to mostly positive acclaim, but I’ve got to admit we’re scratching our heads a little here.

According to McGregor, here’s the ideal schedule the experts came up with collectively:

·         6 - 8 am. Send email. 

·         8 am. Make decisions about ethical dilemmas.

·         9 am. Avoid scheduling meetings.

·         1 - 2 pm. Don't make cold calls (especially on Friday).

·         2:30 or 3 pm. Schedule meetings (especially if it's Tuesday!).

·         4 pm. Do tasks that don't involve sending e-mail. 

·         4 - 6 p.m. Avoid sitting for an interview

·         6 pm to late evening. Do your creative work, if you're a morning person (yes, when you’re most likely to be tired)

Instead of doing certain tasks (or types of thinking) at pre-set times of the day, we suggest doing critical tasks when you know you’re most adept at doing them. The key is to know thyself—do what you’re good at when you’re best at doing it…..leave the rest for others. Let’s deconstruct the list a little:
6-8am: Best time to send email?  Time management experts say not to get mired in our inboxes first thing, or we won't get the critical things done. On the other hand, marketing software firm Hubspot find click-through rates are higher for emails sent around 6 a.m.

Our take: Since most of you (and your clients) are time-pressed professionals, weekends tend to be best. Whether or not they admit it, weekends are when C-Suiters have time to regroup and catch their breath and review the week that just whizzed by. That’s when they handle e-mails that require serious consideration—not an instant response.

Do the most important thing first. Never check email in the morning, experts say. Make a to-do list the night before. Don't schedule meetings right after lunch when everyone will be half-asleep.

Our take: While much has been made about getting the toughest things done first thing in the day (and giving yourself a reward)….that only works if you get that tough task done exceptionally well first thing…..if you’re just getting it done to check it off the last, chances are it won’t be done really well…and you’ll end up re-doing it or spending the rest of the day cleaning up the mess. Better to “time box yourself” –give yourself an hour to make a good “first cut” and then move on to  the next task with a commitment to making a good “second cut” at a pre-set time a day or two later.

Don’t schedule meetings before 10am. Experts say the hardest part about scheduling meetings isn't finding the time when everyone will be bright-eyed and engaged. It's finding a time when everyone can attend.

Our take: Set a time when your meeting is most likely to be first on everyone’s calendar within reason. If you’re in a major city in which key staffers tend to have long commutes, then shoot for 8:30 to 9:30-ish and have those who can’t make it call in from the road. If you’re in a smaller town, or heavy telecommuter organization, then 8am to 8:30 is not unreasonably early this day in age. As will talk about in a minute, most on your team can only fire on all cylinders for a few continuous hours at a time. You’ve got to get them on the peak energy upswing.


We all have stuff we love to do and hate to do every day. If you’re engaged in your work, you can find the energy to get it done almost any time of day, whether at home, at the office or on the road. If you’re not engaged, or not feeding off your colleague’s energy, then you’ll just keep finding excuses for NOT getting it done. As many of us are endurance athletes here at HB, we’re also big on the “interval” approach to work—a few hours of intense concentration, followed by a break.  More intense concentration, followed by another break, etc.  We have a number of Steve Jobs clones here who take short walks multiple times per day and 60 to 90 minute lunch breaks are the norm, not the exception, most often for exercise. How can we possibly allow that much time out of the office? How can we not? If you come back from a long lunch break fully energized and operating three times more efficiently and more sanely than when you left, you’ll get significantly more done the rest of the day than if you gritted your teeth and at lunch at your desk.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: Best times to email, best time to set meetings, Jenna McGregor, Washington Post, when to get things done at work