Simplicity

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.

Track This: The number and quality of face to face meetings you have with people.

Meetings offer opportunities to get belly to belly with people that matter to you. Getting face to face with your customers, partners and your team is certainly better in cases where you want to increase connection, meaning and value. If culture and performance matters to your organization, you need to consider these elements when deciding when, where, why and how often to have meetings.

Belly to belly meetings allow you to do many things including:

  • Build/reinforce rapport
  • Connect and form genuine relationships beyond tasks and agenda items
  • Show respect, regard to valued parties
  • Create an omni-dimensional opportunity to collaborate and make decisions
  • Read body language and other nonverbal communications

If you don’t need these things and an email will suffice, then by all means don’t abuse this tool. However, when you’re measuring what matters in meetings, be sure to account for all of the blessings of getting face to face.

All the technology out there is great but it is also an abstract proxy of a real relationship or connection for the parties involved. Hence, the reason we see so many remote workers being called back into the office.

Technology creates abstraction, distance, disconnection and increased likelihood of insincerity. According to multiple studies, all the wonderful technological terrors we’ve created (video conferencing, social media and so on) actually increase the disconnect and devaluing of people and relationships. For example, people are more likely to be deceptive over video conference than they are face to face because to some extent, the mind sees the person on the screen as an abstraction; that is, more of a cartoon than a human being. I say all this as a technologist. These abstractions continue as things get more digitized, like on social media. People get depressed with pseudo-relationships. They want the satisfaction of a real connection.

Darth Vader put it best, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”

All the technology is great and amazing, but compared to the Force of real connection and getting face to face, it is insignificant. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. But I am also pragmatic and practical, and I recognize where it serves and where it doesn’t. Don’t let the tech tools replace all your meetings. Recognize and measure what you get from getting belly to belly. Make strategic considerations for all of the benefits of getting face to face vs. phoning it in. This goes beyond achieving the items on the agenda.

Meetings Won’t Help Those Who Don’t Meet to Create Value

Many people try to avoid meetings. I believe this is because they go in without any intent to create value and fail to account for the value created beyond the agenda items. Then they proceed to victimize themselves by thinking the meeting was a waste of time. If rapport, relationships, community and connection building are a waste of time, dollars to donuts your company culture is struggling.

Would you want your congressional representatives to phone it in to a session, or fight on the floor in a rigorous debate? Which do you believe is more effective?

How about your lawyer? When it’s time to put up a defense or resolve a conflict, do you think a skype or hangout session will do?

When you need to inspire your team to perform, to show them that you care and that you are in fact leading, is an email or conference call the appropriate representation and embodiment of your commitment?  STEP IT UP.

My point is, when it matters, people show up. People have face to face meetings. The corollary is also true, many meetings that don’t matter or are unimportant take lesser forms. There are endless useless conference calls and committee sessions that take on a variety of forms. That’s fine, just be honest with yourself and your team about what you expect to get from your meetings. Measure the results and decide what is best for you and your team.

Track This: The number and quality of those people who like you, like what you do, and want you to succeed.

Let’s begin by defining what I mean when I say fan. I’ll give you a hint, it has little to do with social media. A fan is someone who knows you, likes you, likes what you do and wants to see you succeed. This is very different than someone who likes what you say, imagines who you are, and wants to get to know you.

How many people out there fit this description for you and your endeavors? Make a list. Write their names down. It will make you feel good. Include the family and friends (who fit the description of course).  Look next to customers, partners, colleagues and other acquaintances who may fit the bill to finish your list.

Now, for those you considered that were a marginal fit, ask yourself:

  • What would it take to get these people I know to become my fans?
  • How can I invest in them (without selling myself short) and get them to advocate for my growth and success?
  • What role can they play in my growth and success?

You’d be surprised how many fans you can really have, and how effective real life fans are compared to the digital ones. Work on developing these marginal folks into real fans.

The small things matter and the little people can have a big impact on you and your business.

The title of fan is not reserved for only referral partners or business prospects, and I pity the poor souls who limit their thinking to such few categories. Fans are people that come from all walks of life. The friendlier they are and the more they relate to who you are and what you do, the stronger your brand truly is. They are your personal army of advocates. And when a prospect hears your name from the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, he or she is far more likely to contact you. Don’t discount anyone because of their role. You’d be amazed at the level of influence that all the so-called “little” people have in the world.

The  many roles of fans

  • Referral and Recommendation – Those interested in your success will consciously work on your behalf to connect others to you.
  • Spread the Legend – Fans share your stories and tales of epic achievement.
  • Encouragement - It feels good when the grocery store clerk remembers your name and says hello. This is a form of fan and a gift. Don’t underestimate the value of the people who can recharge your batteries and uplift your spirit. The more of these experiences you have, the more effective you can be.
  • Feedback – I’m not talking about advice on your business strategy. I’m talking about basic and more subtle forms of feedback. Do people smile as they shout your name across a building/store or parking lot? If so, this is a good sign. People go out of their way and risk a little embarrassment just to get your attention or say hello. This feels good and boosts your confidence. This is a huge moment.
  • Insight - How many TV shows involve a protagonist who gets insight from a seemingly unrelated source or unrelated topic to solve a profound puzzle? There are many enlightened ah-ha moments that come from seemingly disconnected ideas.

You don’t have to spend money to build fans. Real fans require less and give more than those on social media. Kindness is so quick and easy to give. It requires little preparation or investment. People want to feel acknowledged, have opinions validated, and held in high regard, or at least preserve their egos. Simply saying a person’s name, restating what they’ve shared with you to reflect understanding, and adding something to it go a long way to building a fan that can transform into a referral.

So be generous in giving kindness. Listen, connect, share and be open to receive the benefits of such generosity. It works.

TEE, Time, Effort and Energy,

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

The most important metric or currency of our time is attention; composed of time, effort and energy. 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 TEE. The point is, measuring in terms of TEE, is really important.

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

Measuring where and how you’re spending your time, effort and energy, and comparing it with the results earned, can help you make better decisions and invest wisely. The TEE 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 considerate and respectful for other people’s TEE

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

Reflecting on where you pour your TEE 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 TEE 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 TEE. 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 TEE (Time, Effort and Energy)?

3  Emerging TEE Trends

  • Awareness of the new currency of attention & TEE (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 TEE (time, effort and energy) 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 TEE metric. By being aware and having a regard for others’ TEE, 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 TEE (Time, Effort and Energy) 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 TEE 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.

Meeting someone once or twice is pretty easy. Creating a robust professional relationship requires work and TLC. You can run into the same person at a mixer or 3. Connecting in meaningful ways, or even reconnecting, proves to be an elusive skill for most. If you’re looking to reconnect with contacts you’ve met once or twice, or colleagues you know but don’t see often due to your schedule or theirs – look no further. Here’s a sure fire, 8 step, simple formula to get back on their radar. The trick involves sending an email  from your account, adding personal context, an invitation for them to share with you, and give visual bullets of what you’re interested in sharing with them. This doesn’t work if you are trying to spam all of your contacts. However, this  can be very effective if you’re sincerely trying to reconnect and maintain or grow a healthy, professional relationship. Read on!

Everyone has something important they need to remember but, often our memories fade and decay over time. The likelihood of remembering a single piece of information decreases after each minute that passes. This is exacerbated by the fact that in the digital age, we’re constantly bombarded with “important” content. Information is presented to us like a gushing hose from all angles. This flood of data makes what we really want to remember difficult. A new app and web service, Studyhive promises to help make remembering easy.

As leaders and ambitious professionals, we all want to cultivate the practices, habits, and culture that truly serve us. And we want to hit the eject button on all the garbage that does not serve us. The things that don’t serve us, act as roadblocks, keeping us from growth, performance, and success. So how do we identify those things that don’t serve us?

Your inbox and social feeds are probably regularly bombarded with zillions of tips and tricks of what you should do to succeed. How much of that has helped you confront the things that are currently getting in your way? Are you ready to try something different? So why don’t we Heroikly go where few have gone before? Let’s get a step closer to becoming Mission Ready For Life. First, let’s get clear about the things that benefit us and the garbage that hinders, damages, and holds us back.

What does it mean when we say something is serving you?

At the core of Heroik Culture is our mantra: Mission Ready For Life. This is an attitude and dedication to both personal and professional growth, and it has many implications. One of the key practices boils down to this: cultivate that which serves you, and proudly hit the eject button on that which does not.  Bruce Lee, the Martial Arts legend, said “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”

empty your cup

So, want to make like the lord of kung-fu, empty your cup, and get trigger happy with the eject button? Read on!

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

Email has been a great tool, revolutionary even, but times have changed and so have our expectations for modern communication and collaboration. After considering a wide market of new options to traditional email dependence, does good ol’ email measure up anymore?  Is email the right tool for collaboration? Is it the best? At the very least, the leaner and more efficient our inbox, the more productive your team can be. So read on and discover new ways to cut down on the pile.

Here are the 4 email obstacles that are keeping you from getting things done: 

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.

I prefer to operate lean, mean and mobile when it comes to tech. I live by the Principles of Digital liquidity – A discipline for the digital lifestyle consisting of  constant pursuit of 6 factors; speed, simplicity, independence, mobility, control and tactility. The tools that make it onto my utility belt help keep me free and in control of my digital lifestyle. All of these applications are cross-platform, synchronized, mobile-reachable from the web as well as via apps for iOS, Android, etc. Though I use many apps and solutions, these are kept in my pocket and on call everywhere I roam- digitally speaking. Here are 5 I never leave home without:

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