Paper Practice

On the great list of all metrics worth tracking, somewhere high on the list, is your product. What are you producing? How’s the quality? Are you producing enough? Is that effort generating the results you want? These are essential questions to explore on a regular basis. In fact you can take charge of your productivity, simply by defining, owning, and measuring what it is that you produce.

These days, products take many different forms. In fact, defining where products stop and services begin is really tricky in the Information age. There’s service as a product (SaaP), product as a service (PaaS) and a lot of confusing, blurry areas in between.  For a more functional, modern definition of what a product is, how about this:

Products are ideas that are given form to add value to others. The creators of the product are responsible for its quality. And owners act as stewards of that quality.

Products do not have to be physical. They can be packaged ideas, like software, or even a methodology. They can be experiential, like services, video games, and roller coasters. The roller coaster is part of the product but so is the experience of the ride.

Products represent and embody your brand when you are not around. They are the chief experiential marketing collateral for any brand. Products are physical expressions of our values and perceptions. They allow us to scale and grow. They bring value to more people than we can meet face to face in a day, and create opportunities to entice people to share more with us in many forms of value.

Owning what we produce and how we produce it, transforms our work into our craft. We are rewarded with a craftsman’s pride; a sense of service and worth that allows us to experience greater flow in our work. Ownership through craftsmanship is an aspiration worthy of encouragement for those seeking high performance and more productivity for themselves and/or their teams.

What you produce speaks volumes about the level of integrity with which you operate at the moment of production. Did you make strategic considerations to ensure that your product would deliver value for consumers and your returning customers, or did you put it together last minute? Is it a finished product? These are but a few questions that even the largest enterprises fail to stop and explore from time to time.

For those in the service industry, or those with specialized roles inside an organization, it can be challenging but immensely valuable, to clearly define your product. Products come in different, nuanced forms.

Think about what you put down on paper or build with your own two hands. Are you laying bricks or dropping truth bombs in documents and reports? Whatever those key things are that you produce, they are products of your personal and professional brand. Many things we produce are taken for granted, dismissed and devalued. Yet, when we take a bit more ownership, and put a little bit more excellence into them, they get noticed and great things can happen.

From a performance and productivity standpoint, our products are anything we generate with our own two hands. Sure, we may like to avoid ownership of a lot of things, but would our lives be better off if we did? I think so.

Here are a few products that are taken for granted everyday:

  • Moms and Dads pack lunches for their kids. How much love and consideration is packed each day? Kids measure this stuff (ultimately), just as customers measure products.
  • A great meal – TV dinner or farm to fork?
  • A clean home – I know many dedicated and underappreciated neat freaks out there. We love you.
  • A refined, edited document – Again, the guy who solves problems we never have to see. My editor Mike Penfield for example.
  • An organized office – I still think these are about as common as unicorns for really productive people, but I’m open to the idea.
  • A TPS report – What’s this I hear about you having trouble with your TPS reports? Someone needs these?
  • A handwritten note, sent through snail mail
  • Sales and marketing collateral – The better armed your sales and marketing team, the more successful they can be.
  • An outreach email – Yes you can create these in a hurry and generate spam, or put a little more care into them and increase the engagement.
  • A birthday card – Or anyone with a shop on Etsy, you know who you are. Keep it up!

Just about anything you can experience or create can be a product. Calling attention to what we produce, and raising our awareness as to its potential, is a Heroik metric and an empowering tool.

Whatever you are producing, here are a few questions to consider regarding taking account of your products and production process:

  • Are you doing what you can to make your products excellent?
  • Do your products embody your values and aspirations?
  • Are you committing enough Time, Effort and Energy (TEE) to achieve the quality standard on par with your brand?
  • More importantly, are you measuring / comparing the two?
  • What tweaks can you make to increase your rate and/or quality of production – without selling yourself short of course?

The more you think about the things you produce as products of your personal brand, and the more you are aware of this connection, the more mindful your decisions and output will be.

TEE, Time, Effort and Energy,

Track This: Where and how you spend your focused attention; time, energy and attention.

The most important metric or currency of  these days seems to be our focused, attention time, composed of time, energy and attention (TEA). The modern audience of potential customers, partners and fans, for your business and mine, is actively searching for ways to spend less time consuming anything where there is a low perceived value. These are called low information diets. These diets have different needs, like tools that block ads and social networks. Or management programs that provide analytics and visual breakdowns of where they are spending their precious available TEA. The point is, measuring in terms of TEA, is really important.

At Heroik, we’ve been asking our clients where they are pouring their TEA (Time, Energy and Attention) for over 8 years. We work to make their businesses more efficient, and free their TEA so that it can be poured elsewhere. We also pay attention to the TEA of their customers.

Measuring where and how you’re spending your time, energy and attention, and comparing it with the results earned, can help you make better decisions and invest wisely. The TEA metric is a powerful business tool that helps you:

  • Measure the return on sweat equity and whatever demands your attention
  • Helps you to create more effective processes
  • Find more time to invest in customers
  • Identify activities that deepen relationships vs. make more noise
  • Be more considerate and respectful for other people’s TEA

With Customers: It’s important to invest some TEA in developing  and serving potential and existing customers. Content is an easy example, investing a little TEA to provide an audience with useful information can go a long way to a fruitful and profitable relationship.

Reflecting on where you pour your TEA can help you identify waste. For example, over-estimating the value of social media engagement can cripple a business. If you spend too much time flirting on channels that don’t convert, this can significantly take its toll on the clock, your enthusiasm and of course your wallet.

The TEA metric also allows you to create more effective processes. Process is about creating effective activities and standards that lead to greater efficiency. The standards and repeatable steps in your workflow also make it easier to automate, delegate and liberate your TEA. We use this concept to help our clients identify waste and inefficiency.

It all starts by looking at your efforts through this lens. In terms of strategy, you can create an actionable process around the quality and frequency of your work to eliminate waste and inefficiency, which will give you back the important commodity of time. More time can translate to more freedom. Use your new strategy to achieve a higher level of freedom.

Ask yourself: Where are you pouring your TEA (Time, Energy and Attention)?

3  Emerging TEA Trends

  • Awareness of the new currency of TEA (time, effort and energy) is leading to more sophisticated consumption habits. Content creators drew so much attention to the attention economy that the modern audience is now adapting as it becomes more aware that the world is competing for this commodity.
  • The word count and thickness of the book matters less. One book weighs as much as another on the iPad. Quantity matters less than quality and TEA required to understand the content. People are paying as much for the cliff notes and summaries as they are for the complete work. This is but one example of the attention metric.
  • Continued Increase in audience resilience, scrutiny and filtration. This applies to everything, especially content, and means there is a growing value placed on being mindful of the TEA metric. By being aware and having a regard for others’ TEA, you’ll be on the cutting edge of value creation.

No easier or more practical example can likely be found than that of the content we create and share. If you pour your TEA into building something in alignment with your values, and emphasizing those that you share with your target audience, you’ll notice a few things:

  • It feels easier because it is easier. You’re not spending energy faking it. You’re gaining energy and supercharging your batteries by sharing what comes organically while in alignment with your audience
  • You grow faster because what you have to say, and how you say it, resonates as honest and true with your crowd
  • Creative ideas for refinement and growth come easy, because you’re not distracted or vulnerable to the snake oil tactics that serve at best for the short-term

If you enjoyed this post and want to explore more implications of the TEA metric and content creation, be sure to check out our book “The Heroik Power of Headlines“. You’ll get plenty of practical advice on how to more successfully leverage it in your business.

It’s amazing to me, how many ambitious upstarts have the passion for new endeavor, yet hate to read and learn to reach their goals. If reading is a barrier to improvement for you, perhaps because you find it slow-paced, difficult or uninteresting, then you’re in luck. With the help of some new technology, you can speed read your way at 2-4x your current speed. This is a real time saver.

How Speed Reading Works

There are many books out there disguised as how-to’s, prompting you to tell your story through social media, and to use it as a platform to build a more authentic brand. But let’s be real, most of these books are far removed of specifics with watered down recommendations to use social media to tell your story. Some of the better books on the subject show you how to sell-out your brand for mass appeal. These don’t pass the sniff test of building an authentic brand with great content. That’s where this book comes in.

Picture Batman robbed of his utility belt. He’s still  more than able whoop your ass, solve the riddle and save the day. You too, should aspire to cultivate your skills to the point that  armed with only the most primitive of tools, locked in an 8×10 room with a magic marker, you (your ideas, filters, lenses and processes) can be just as dangerous and powerful. Do you want more mental clarity, focus, less anxiety and stress? This year, this month, this week, try something different and get back to the basics. Brush the dust off a pen and paper, visit ye olde staples, follow along, get involved, and  measure your gains. Spend the $10 on a pad of paper and something to write with. I recommend a moleskine notebook and a good pen. Just as a fool trusts his life to a weapon, do not place ultimate faith in your gadgetry. I’m not anti-tech. I’m a thrivalist.  Read on if you want to become a bare knuckle  biz champion of  productivity.

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