What I learned from my Toddler about Sleeping #PrioritizeSleep

I have a 1.5 year old (and a 3 month old). If any of you have had a young child you probably immediately know how to spot the signs that they are tired: crankiness, poor balance (constant tripping) and a general lack of ability to function.

In a child it is easy to immediately spot the signs and send them to bed.

But what about in an adult? How does lack of sleep impact us?

This week we flew overseas and had a 6 hour time zone change. Nobody slept well and I was exhausted.

My signs of sleep deprivation were less obvious than my toddlers, but they were definitely there.

  • Lower productivity
  • Snappiness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of focus
  • Inability to concentrate (wait, did I say that already? I’m so tired today!)

The reality is that lack of sleep impacts adults too. Poor sleep in adults has been linked to:

  • Accidents
  • Health problems
  • Lower IQs
  • Low sex drive
  • Depression
  • Bad skin
  • Bad memory
  • Weight gain
  • DEATH (I kid you not)

It isn’t obvious, but the effects are there.

When adults are tired it isn’t obvious, but the effects are there. As an entrepreneur with a demanding schedule and 2 young kids I can’t afford to be off my game for very long.

It is time to prioritize sleep

If I cancelled a team meeting because I needed to sleep, my team would probably think I was uncommitted, crazy or just lazy. The reality is that by getting sleep I can function better all day. Investing in 2 hours of extra sleep can mean the difference between a productive and unproductive day.

Sleep is one of the best investments I can make for myself.

After a remarkably unproductive few days this week I’ve decided it is time to prioritize sleep.

#PrioritizeSleep

Confessions of a Frequent Business Traveler – It Isn’t as Sexy as You Think

As a frequent keynote speaker and social media trainer, I travel a lot.

I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world… helping people through speaking is the best job I could have dreamed of.

People often comment about how cool it must be – setting off around the world, exploring new cities, gaining new experiences, staying in amazing hotels….

We Post the Best on Facebook, not the Worst

My Facebook friends in particular often see the glamorous side of my travel – Checking out a music festival in Brazil, exploring India, spending an evening on a sunset cruise in Newport RI, enjoying a day on Daytona Beach in December, checking out the sites of London and Paris or skiing at Whistler Mountain in Vancouver. Don’t get me wrong, these are all amazing experiences — and the things that make traveling fun and enjoyable.

But the reality of business travel is the side that doesn’t get posted to Facebook:

  • Running a full-day workshop after 3 hours of sleep
  • Waiting in an airport for 10 hours and not knowing if I’ll make it home
  • Flying for 10 hours and then driving for 4 hours to get where I need to be on-time
  • STRESSING over missed connections
  • Staying in sketchy hotels
  • Forgetting my contact case or glasses for the 500th time
  • Not being able to get into a diet/exercise routine
  • Working super-late hours to get everything done
  • Annoyingly trying to get wifi in airports, on planes, at hotels to get work done
  • Missing meetings/calls because I still can’t correctly calculate time zones
  • Forgetting my phone charger in the hotel and scrambling to find something to charge my phone so I know where I’m going

While there are some huge perks to traveling, those perks are probably only 10% of the travel time. 90% of it is stress and hassles.

Over the past year I’ve gotten much better at traveling (maybe that will be the next post – how to travel like a pro)….

 

Don’t Buy Into the Illusion

Most business travelers make travel seem glamorous, but it really isn’t (most of the time) unless you make the effort to really enjoy it….

My first 5 – 10 years of business travel were hell – until I learned (from other frequent travelers) how to enjoy it.

Now I love travel.

The Secrets to Loving Business Travel

Here are the top 5 tips that have allowed me to love business travel.

  1. Reduce Stress – Accept that you have no control. A friend once told me that once you get to the airport you have no control. Accept this and it will reduce your stress about delays or other issues.
  2. Splurge for small pleasures – Buy the $10 fresh fruit drink. Airport prices on almost anything are crazy high, and if you are frugal (or cheap) like me you may feel like things are a rip off and not indulge. Travel is MUCH more enjoyable if you allow yourself a few small pleasures (regardless of the cost) – an airport manicure, a glass of wine or a healthy snack (if you can find one).
  3. Give yourself plenty of time. I always book flights so that I can miss at least one flight and get to where I need to be on time. This helps with #1.
  4. Pack Light. Travel is easier  if you aren’t hauling a ton of stuff across the airport. Get better at packing and only travel with what you need.
  5. Invest in good luggage. Good luggage makes it easier to get you and your stuff around the airport. Cheap roller bags are harder to pull and cheap handbags can break or are less comfortable (with cheap shoulder straps, etc). Get good luggage – it will last forever and make your life easier.
  6. Bring a refillable water bottle. Almost all airports have water refill stations and I drink a TON of water. I always bring a refillable bottle and try to drink a full bottle before boarding then I bring a full one on the plane. Nothing is worse than travel dehydration.
  7. Pack snacks. I always realize I’m starving when I get on the plane. Travel is energy draining. Keep your energy high with healthy snacks.

What Makes a Great Digital Marketing Keynote Speaker?

I’ve been speaking professionally for over 10 years now, and as a speaker I find that I learn the most by watching and learning from other speakers.

Today I had the opportunity to watch 17 different speakers as a part of a Digital Day event with a client, and I wanted to reflect on my observations and share them with you.

So, What Makes a Great Speaker:

1.  Delivery over Content

Delivery matters more than content. Some of the people with the best content didn’t get much traction because their delivery wasn’t great. Most people spend 90% of their prep time on content and almost none on delivery. This should be flipped.

2. ENERGY

Most speakers are just LOW ENERGY. They are smart, well spoken and know their stuff but they don’t seem energetic or enthusiastic. Get some energy (or fake it). Seem passionate and excited – it is contagious.

3. Don’t Look Back at Your Slides

When you present your slides are usually behind you. Don’t look back at them. It looks strange and reduces your connection with the audience. You can occasionally point to slides or draw attention to them, but don’t stand and look at the slide while you are talking.

4. Presence

Work on your presence. Be big. Take over the stage. This isn’t the time to be small (and I’m not speaking about height). Own the stage with big posture and gestures.

5. Move around

Don’t stand in one place. Use the stage.

6. Jokes and Laughs Score Big

Get some jokes in your presentation. It can be some funny slides, a few jokes, whatever it is. Get people laughing and watch comedians for delivery. Pause to let people laugh. If they don’t laugh turn that into a joke. Humor matters.

7. Engage and Interact

This was missing from most of the presentations that I saw. When people sit for an entire day they get bored. No matter how great you are. Get them involved. Do a survey. Have them vote. Get someone up on stage. Plan and experiment with some interactions.

17 Tips to Travel Like a Pro

17-Tips-to-Travel-Like-a-ProI travel MANY times a year (more than I can count) and I used to hate it… well, maybe not hate it, but I didn’t love it. I was stressed, disorganized and found travel exhausting.

There are a few tricks that I discovered over time that make travel not just bearable but enjoyable. Whether you travel frequently or just once in a while, these are the things that have helped me to enjoy travel the most.

  1. Carry On Only – Whenever possible avoid checking bags. This is obvious.
  2. Bring an Empty Water Bottle – I always feel dehydrated and most airports have bottle fill-up stations.
  3. Check-in Online First – If you already check-in online you can still make your flight as long as you get to the gate before boarding closes (as long as you don’t check bags). This buys you time and relieves stress if you are running late.
  4. Always Bring Snacks – I hate being hungry.
  5. Get Lounge Access – I have access to the frequent flier lounges and it makes a HUGE difference (especially when flights are delayed and I’m waiting around the airport for a long time). They are quiet, have Wifi, free drinks and healthy snacks. It is like an oasis from travel noise.
  6. Accept that you Have No Control – This was the best piece of advice I got from a friend. Accept that once you get yourself to the airport you have no control over anything else that happens. Don’t get stressed over delays.
  7. Take the First Flight in the Morning – This is the least likely to have any delays.
  8. Give Yourself Buffer Time – I always make sure that I can miss at least one flight/connection and get where I need to be on time. This reduces my stress about delayed flights.
  9. Have a Backup Plan – I always have a backup plan for what will happen if something goes wrong with my itinerary.
  10. Avoid the Last Connection at Night – I HATE getting stranded at a random airport because my flight was late and I missed my connection. I’ll spend more $$ or even stay an extra night when possible to avoid a last of the night connection.
  11. Invest in Good Luggage – Good suitcases make travel better.
  12. Invest in Noise Cancelling Headphones – They make flights with crying children more tolerable.
  13. Have a Game Plan for Security – Know what you need to take out and have your bags ready to easily get items in and out.
  14. Smile – Be friendly to airport staff. The constantly deal with angry people and a smile goes a long way.
  15. Keep Your Boarding Pass and ID in the Same Place – I hate it when I have to search through my purse or bag or pockets for 10 minutes to find my ID or passes. I always put them in the same place in my bag to make them easy to find.
  16. You can Ask for Full Sized Cans – If you want more than the tiny cup they give you, ask for a full sized can. They normally say yes.
  17. You can Bring Mini-Alcohol Bottles as Carry-on Liquids – Sometimes you just need a drink. You can bring mini-alcohol bottles as your carryon as long as they are in the Ziploc bag.

Why You Should Ignore the “Next Big Thing” in Social Media

Why-You-Should-Ignore-Next-Big-ThingRemember QR codes? Google+? Ello?

All of these were “the next big thing in marketing” where marketers started investing their time and $$ in new social networks ahead of user adoption.

Marketers seem to believe that there is a first-mover advantage – if they get on the network first they’ll have an advantage and grow their audience bigger faster. So they jump in and invest their time and effort – even before people actually use the network.

Meet your Customers Don’t Beat Them

Unless your goal is to show innovation (which only really matters for tech or social media companies) you don’t need to beat your customers to using something. Meet them. Be where your customers are.

Wait for Some Significant User Adoption

Wait until you see that a significant number of people in your target audience is using something before you jump in and invest your time and effort. People started slapping QR codes on everything despite the fact that most people didn’t have the slightest clue how to use them.

QR codes had faster marketing adoption than user adoption and were ultimately a huge flop.

Optimize vs. Expand

You have limited time, money and resources. Use them wisely. Expanding into new and largely unproven networks takes your valuable resources. Instead of jumping in to something new, consider the results you could achieve from doing what you already do better. Evaluate the pros and cons of each.

Most New Networks Fail

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the reality is that most shiny new objects never reach mass adoption. Wait until you see real traction on a network – most of them will fail and you’ll waste lots of time.

It Takes Time to Get Big

Social networks don’t suddenly explode – they grow over time. Pinterest, which still seems like a new network was founded in 2011. It didn’t get big out of nowhere. There was a slow steady climb to reach mass adoption.

Get Over Your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

You won’t miss anything if you aren’t the first on something new. You’ll actually save yourself time and effort by waiting until there are some established best practices and case studies. Let other people experiment and learn from them.

You don’t need to be on the next big thing in social media. You need to be strategic and be where your customers are.

Want My Advice? Do This First.

Want-My-Advice

A lot of social media practitioners, consultants and “social media experts” complain about people constantly asking to “pick their brain”. Most of the posts complain about people asking for free advice and explain in great detail how and why this is offensive.

While I agree with these posts, many years ago I received some GREAT advice about how to handle these requests.

When someone asks you for help, give them something to do first. Some small first step that they have to complete before you spend your time helping them.

Here are some examples:

Request: Krista, I’m looking for a new position and I was wondering if you could introduce me to some people.

Response: I’d love to help you. Can you take a look at my LinkedIn network and identify a few people who I am connected to who could help you?


Request: I have a startup and I think we need to use social media. Can I pick your brain about what we should consider?

Response: Sure. I wrote a few blog posts about this topic already that I think would be helpful. Could you read them first, let me know your thoughts and then we can schedule a meeting.

Response: Social media is great for startups. Could you send me links to social media accounts of some of your biggest competitors? I’m curious to see what they are doing.


Why This Works

This strategy works for a number of reasons:

1) If I’m going to invest my time I want them to invest theirs.

    It is easy to ask for advice or for a favor. Asking the other person to do a small amount of work before you invest your time shows that they are really interested. It also shows that they really value and want your help since they are willing to do the follow-up step that you suggest before you dive in and help.

2) They are more likely to take action.

    I really don’t mind occasionally meeting with people to help them out. Lots of people helped me with advice to get to where I am. What annoys the heck out of me is when I spend my time giving someone free advice that they don’t follow.
    Asking them to do something upfront shows that they can follow-through on something.

3) It shows that you are thoughtful and value your time.

    It is so easy for people to ask for advice or opinions. A lot of the people who ask for advice don’t realize that they are asking you to basically do your job for free. I like to use this approach because it shows that I have considered what they asked me for and have given them a thoughtful and specific next step. This shows that I value my time, even though I will give it to them for free.

4) Most people don’t do it.

    The reality is that in my experience well over half of people don’t follow through with the simple next step. This weeds out requests that would be a waste of my time since the person doesn’t have great follow-up. It also lets me focus my time on helping people who are action oriented and willing to invest their time when they ask for mine.

5) You don’t have to say no and get all cranky.

    I don’t really like saying no to people – even when they ask for free advice. This helps me to not have to say no and feel like a jerk.
    I know some social media experts who are highly offended by requests for free advice and often respond with cranky rants along the lines of “How dare you ask for free advice?!?! Don’t you know this is how I earn a living?!?!?! Have you no common decency?!?!?!”

6) It is nice to help people sometimes. Even for free.

    I got into what I do because I actually love it. I love talking about social media. I love helping businesses and people. I got to where I am because a lot of people helped me along the way. I’m happy to give back.

This approach has helped me tremendously – I wish I could remember who suggested it to me initially. Giving the requestor a simple next steps shows if they are willing to do something prior to me investing my time. As a bonus I don’t have to say no 😉

Marketing Strategy: Optimization vs. More

Marketing-Strategy

 

Many businesses that I work with are looking for strategies to get more traffic, more followers, more likes.

They want to grow their footprint and reach more people.

One thing to consider is whether or not your time is better spent getting more or optimizing what you already have.

What gets you a better ROI:

  • Spending time/$$ to get 100 new website visitors or turning more of your existing website visitors into customers?
  • Getting more Facebook fans or driving engagement with current fans?
  • Reaching more people or making sure that your message actually grows your business?

The point is that we sometimes focus too much on more when we aren’t even getting results with what we already have.

As marketers it is important to weigh the investment of time/$$/other resources spent on growth vs. optimization. Figure out how to build a system that works before you spend money driving people to something. Get a conversion strategy for your site to turn visitors into leads before getting more traffic.

Carefully weigh your options – often optimization provides a better ROI than growth.

Defensiveness is Killing You

Defensiveness-is-Killing-You

 

I’ve been consulting and training companies on social media for 10 years now (time flies!!!). Companies pay me to go in and tell them what they should do to get better results. As an outsider it is really easy to see their mistakes – when you are in the weeds you don’t often see them.

My job is to tell them what to fix. They proactively reached out to me asking me to help them. They know they are making mistakes and want to improve.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that many people, when confronted with how they can improve naturally respond with excuses and reasons. They know they aren’t getting results (that is why they hired me) but they have a hard time not being defensive when shown how to improve.

I think it is a natural reaction.

It is difficult to hear that we aren’t doing something well.

I tell them that their Facebook posts aren’t getting results because the content isn’t optimized. They get defensive even though they know it isn’t working. Then we have to waste time talking about their excuses/reasons and I have to convince them to listen to the advice that they paid me for. It is a bit of a dance where I try to make sure they don’t feel attacked or offended.

The reality is that if they would just be open minded and listen they could fix things faster and move on more quickly.

Other clients have no ego, no defensiveness. They are eager for feedback, ask questions and implement quickly.

If you can be less defensive you can get better results faster.

We can all improve. I can improve 5 things about my writing style or headlines now. Getting actionable feedback encourages me to do better.

Consider your approach to feedback. Are you defensive? Are you open to it and eager for advice?

In my experience the less defensive you are about feedback, the more likely you are to change and grow.

Want to Grow Your Business? Focus on What Matters.

Want-to-grow-your-business

I read something yesterday (I’m tired today from 12+ hours of international travel so I can’t tell you where I read it or even who said it) that resonated with me about driving focus in your business.

  1. Make a list of 20 things that you could do to grow your business.
  2. Then cross off everything except the top 3-5 – the best ideas.
  3. If you find yourself working on something NOT on the LIST STOP IMMEDIATELY.

The idea is that we lose focus too quickly and don’t do the things that really matter most.

I read a book a few years back called The One Thing that suggests focusing on the one single thing that is most likely to impact your business and letting go of as much else as possible.

Success in business is just as much about the things that you don’t work on as the things you do.

This was a great reminder for me to stay focused and really be careful about how I spend my time and energy.

Relentless focus on what really matters wins.

Don’ t allow yourself to be sidetracked.