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How to save hundreds of hours scheduling meetings

how to save hundreds of hours scheduling meetingsIf you are a busy entrepreneur, speaker or consultant you probably spend a ton of your time going back and forth trying to schedule meetings.

I used to do that. I spent forever trying to find available time.

My email would be overloaded and often times the meetings wouldn’t happen because I’d forget to respond (or the other person would). The other problem that I had was that once I scheduled a phone call I’d be frantically checking through emails trying to figure out who should call who.

Those who know me know that I’m big on efficiency, and I love finding tools to help me save time and effort.

There are 2 tools that I use to schedule my life.

The first is DOODLE – a group meeting scheduler.

I use the free version of Doodle – it allows me to suggest a number of meeting times and people can simply add a checkmark if they are available. This saves FOREVER on group emails asking who is available when and then tallying it manually. With Doodle everyone can see all of the other responses as well.

I find myself frequently recommending this tool to people.

The second is ScheduleOnce – where people can automatically schedule time on my calendar.

This has saved my life in so many ways. Basically, I send people a link where they can automatically schedule time on my calendar (it syncs with my calendar availability). They can choose the length of the meeting and I can control what time on my calendar shows as available.

Now, when people want to book time with me I just send them a link.

No more “we can meet at these three times” back and forth. PLUS if the person booking the meeting wants to invite multiple people they’ll coordinate availability separately and then schedule the time. This means that I’m not at all involved in all of this coordinating.

When they schedule a time I set it up so that they automatically get conference call information (I use an open line with GoToMeeting, but you could use any conference call service where you can always re-use the same #). Now I don’t have to run around finding call-in information.

Plus if they need to reschedule or cancel they can also do that all automatically online.

Both of these tools save me hundreds of hours a year.

14 Things I Learned in 2014

Soooo…. it’s that time of year again…. time to reflect and plan for the year ahead. I used to make (and quickly break) New Year’s Resolutions. Now I use the dawn of a new year to reflect back and take some quiet time to plan for the year ahead.

Here are the top 14 things I learned in 2014 (in no particular order):

  1. I need to spend less time doing and more time thinking: I’m a doer. I like to get stuff done and I get a chill of satisfaction when I can cross something off of my to-do-list. That being said, in 2014 I got so wrapped up in doing things that I didn’t really spend enough time stepping back, planning and thinking. I need to do less and think more. 
  2. FOCUS ON ONE BIG THING: A friend told me there is a book based on this concept, and the basic idea is that each week you should choose 1 thing to focus on. The one thing should be the thing that your success is most contingent on. Stop wasting all of your time and energy on the other things, the ones that don’t matter and each week do 1 thing that will really move the needle.
  3. You can get ahead faster when you invest in training, coaches, support, whatever: As my business has grown and I’ve become busier I stopped taking time to invest in myself. I go to speak at conferences and maybe catch a session or two, but I haven’t really stepped back to just take time to learn and grow. This is SO IMPORTANT. This year I’m investing in my digital marketing education by making more time for conferences and also planning to attend some business success events.
  4. Procrastination is killing me: There are a variety of things that I procrastinate, but I can usually trace them to uncomfortable conversations or situations. I avoid them. I look at them a million times before acting. I waste tons of time on things that I could just have over and done with quickly.
  5. My standing desk really helps and is awesome: A few years ago I bought a standing desk thing (if you have a laptop you can buy one here from amazon for $40 — it is amazing), but I didn’t get into the swing of using it until last year. Best investment ever. Just by standing I’m more energized.
  6. I need to manage my energy better: Last year I met a few amazing women who have incredible energy. I’m energetic when I’m “on” and in-front of people, but day-to-day I get to the office and get to work. I compare this to the amazingly positive and energetic women I’ve met this year who make me excited just by being around them. I want to manage the energy that I bring into every room, every day.
  7. I can’t handle audiobooks: For years I’ve tried various audiobooks in various settings. I just can’t pay attention <Squirrel>. Real books only for me.
  8. I need to focus more on my appearance: I worked with a style coach in 2014 and she helped me to realize that with just a little bit of effort I could really polish my appearance and better support my career. I may do another post on my style goals for 2015, but needless to say, I’m trying to avoid chipped nail polish and wear my hair down more often (because I love my long blonde hair but am generally too lazy to consistently make it look nice).
  9. I can’t really do nothing anymore: I realized on vacation this year that I don’t really like to sit and do absolutely nothing. I need my mind to be working. I can relax with a book, or a trashy tv show, but I can’t just do nothing laying on a beach. Maybe I need to try meditating or something?
  10. I can survive being 100% disconnected for a week, but I don’t really like it: People always talk about the value of a vacation and getting disconnected. I did that this year – for an entire week (I was out of the country with no access to email or voicemail). Some people find this liberating, but honestly, I’d rather just know what is going on. I don’t need to work all the time, but I don’t like the idea that I can’t send a quick file if it is needed. I’d rather check in for 20 minutes a day than totally disconnect.
  11. I really love what I do: This year I realized that I really absolutely love what I do. I get excited speaking to groups, running training classes and even running my business.
  12. I need to take time to build strategic direction (In all aspects of my life): This links back to the idea of taking more time to think, but this year I realized how many strategically TERRIBLE decisions I was making for my business. The reason was that we just did stuff and evolved. I didn’t really step back to make sure that things made sense. This is probably also true for how I spend my personal time – I just do stuff without really thinking about what I want to make time for and what I need to cut out.
  13. I need to remove all games from my iphone: I wouldn’t say that I’m addicted to iphone games (hey – I only play 2!!!?!?!) but I will say that it is easy to waste hours half-watching a crappy TV show and playing Sudoku for hours….
  14. Investing in the right things changes everything: Whether it is FINALLY getting an iphone that just works (vs. my series of Androids that were perpetually breaking or malfunctioning), signing up for a scheduling service for my calendar or getting some social media management tools working, investing in process and tools for efficiency has made an amazing difference to me in 2014.
  15. BONUS: I am FINALLY responsible enough to spend 8 days on a beach in the sun and not get a sunburn: My mom will be so proud.

What did you learn last year that you’ll bring with you into 2015?

14 Things I Learned in 2014

How Sales Automation is Killing Your Business #MarketingTip

Is sales automation killing your business?First let me say that sales automation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is a bad thing when used in an annoying way.

The idea behind sales automation is that there is a set process for following up with prospects, and rather than having to remember to follow-up and customizing the follow-up, it can all be automated. Sales automation can be emails, voicemails (or robot-automated voice calls) or even regular mail.

The basic idea is that people aren’t always great at remembering to send the right message to the right person at the right time. Automating it takes the human element out, which can both be good and bad.

The good part is that it saves tons of time and effort. 80% of your sales emails are the exact same, so why not just have a standard follow-up process?

You have to be very smart about what you automate or you risk annoying most of your audience – especially those looking for something specific.

Here are a few examples of automation gone wrong (and the lesson learned):

  • When I was buying a new car 2 years ago I knew the exact car I wanted. I emailed 5 dealerships with the specifics of what I wanted, asking for a quote and stating that I was planning to buy at the end of the week. Three dealerships ended up putting me into their “Automated Sales” process, sending me random sales messages and incentives to stop in and look at their cars without ever answering what I already asked. I don’t think that a human even read the contact form I filled out. This wasted my time and was highly annoying. Plus for MONTHS and YEARS after they continued to send me automated emails. AUTOMATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A HUMAN TO RESPOND.
  • I recently started getting automated recorded calls from the service station that I go to. The cheesiest recorded voice yells at me to get my service. This is HIGHLY annoying. I don’t think that good ever comes from calling people with automated messages. If it isn’t important enough for them to have a human call me, why should I waste my valuable time? Is there anyone in the world who likes these? Even if a few people respond positively, is it worth annoying the heck out of everyone else. RESPECT YOUR CUSTOMERS. IF IT WOULD ANNOY YOU IT WILL ANNOY THEM.
  • Consider how relevant and annoying your follow-up process is. I recently made a purchase from an office supply company. I ordered my supplies online and they were delivered. Success. Since my purchase, some sales rep keeps messaging me — he has both called multiple times and emailed me. WHY? To “connect”. That is all he says. He wants to schedule a call to “connect”. I don’t have time or an interest in “connecting” with a sales person who works at a company that I buy from on the internet for no purpose. IF YOU CONTACT SOMEONE CLEARLY IDENTIFY WHAT IS IN IT FOR THEM. OTHERWISE YOU ARE UNNECESSARY SPAM AND ANNOYING NOISE. CONSIDER IF YOU HAVE A REASON. PEOPLES TIME IS VALUABLE.

At Boot Camp Digital we are very cautious of our follow-up process and try not to reach out to people who don’t want to hear from us. It is a fine line, and we constantly assess and revise our process to make sure that we aren’t annoying people with unwanted messages.

Have you seen automation done right or wrong? What do you think?

Speakers: Don't Share Information, Share Stories

Speakers: Tell a story, don't just give informationI’ve been speaking to organizations for 5+ years now.

Some people think that professional speakers are just people who are naturally talented at speaking and have some sort of a message to share.

This may be true for people sharing stories at local events or participating in panels at conferences.

Professional speaking requires more.

People don’t remember data, they remember stories.

Importantly, turning every aspect of your presentation into a story increases how people respond and how much they remember. Stories connect with people on an emotional level. Once you have the guts of your presentation worked out, consider how you can turn it from information into a story.

For example, I can tell you that older people are now using social media. I could even give you statistics.

Instead, I tell a story (along with a hysterical picture) of how my father joined Facebook even though he still has dial up internet.

People remember the story and are entertained. PLUS they remember the message. Much better than they’d remember a statistic or a chart.

Turn Everything Into a Story

My goal is to turn every aspect of my presentation into a story.

For example, when I introduce myself I don’t just randomly share information about my background, or rhyme off my qualifications.

I tell a story. The story starts with me working at P&G…. I share my journey of how I got to where I am.

People connect with the story.

It resonates with them.

They remember it.

They feel more connected to me and my message.

It is WAY more interesting vs. just talking about myself.

Every Story Should Have A Purpose

The key is to be sure that each story that you share has a purpose. It should build upon your overall message and connect with the audience. It should help them understand WHY your message is important and HOW to implement it.

Storify your message. (Make your message a story).


Matter More, Market Less

Matter More. Market Less. Social media tipI read this quote in my Facebook newsfeed today (and apparently credit is due to Nathan Engels for sharing it).

As a marketer, it may be surprising that I would share this.

Market less. Matter more.

With social media, if you create content that matters to people they will WANT to pay attention to you.

Even after doing social media for 7+  years, so many businesses struggle with this idea. They think that the only way to sell is to directly talk about selling, or to do marketing by talking about your product or service.

Resist the urge.

Provide amazing information that matters to people.

This will establish your credibility.

This will grow your brand awareness.

This will grow your brand equity.

This will sell your product over time.

Marketing isn’t dead, but in a digital world where people don’t have a lot of time, they’ll give their attention to the things that matter to them, not the things paying to be in-front of them.

Figure out how to matter.


Celebrity Nude Photos and Your Digital Footprint

What's your digital footprint?I’ve been reading on Facebook and in the media a lot of different comments and perspectives about the recent leaked celebrity nude photos. The discussion quickly changed from “Exciting Celebrity News Pics” to a dialogue about sexism and violation of privacy.

Here is the thing.

No content that you create digitally is ever safe. Period.

This is called your digital footprint – it is all of the digital content about you (whether you create it or somebody else does).

I speak a lot to college students about social media, and we’ve all heard the mantra “nothing you post on Facebook is ever really private – no matter how you handle your privacy settings”. We tell people “assume that everything you post is public” as a guiding principle for social media participation — on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, everywhere.

Yet really the warning should extend to any digital content that you choose to create about yourself – drugs, drinking, partying or naked pics.

Any of these things can come back to haunt you – regardless of how careful you are.

Should people violate your privacy?

Of course not.

Did the celebrities with nude photos deserve to have their privacy violated?


Should you be careful of the digital content that you choose to create?


Should you consider that at some point, maliciously or otherwise your digital content could find its way online?


Many business professionals that I know are very careful about the situations that they allow themselves to be photographed in.

The bottom line is: always consider your digital footprint. Every piece of digital content you create could somehow, sometime, be found. Be aware of that whenever you capture digital content or post anything digitally.

I don’t care if you take naked pictures (I’m not your mother). Just be aware of the possibilities.

Think of this the next time you take a digital (or non-digital photo).

Social Media isn’t a Magic Bullet

Social media isn't a magic bulletMany of the businesses that I work with, especially small businesses and start-ups think that social media is a magic bullet that will bring them an endless stream of customers.

It doesn’t work this way. If it did everyone would be rich and successful. The reality is that social media marketing takes work. It isn’t easy and takes time and resources. Expecting to create social media assets and instantly develop a following isn’t realistic.

Social Media can create breakthrough results when used correctly and with time, money and effort, but it isn’t a magic solution.

Here are the best ways to maximize your social media efforts:

Social Media is Part of an Overall Strategy

Social media should be a part of your overall marketing strategy. It is great at building awareness, relationship building and connecting with communities. But social media isn’t the only tool that can do these things. Your marketing plan should include additional ways (yes, even offline) to achieve these objectives as well.

Social Media Works Best when Connected to Other Marketing

Linking social media to your other marketing is important. In marketing there is something called the Rule of 7 which says that it takes 7 touchpoints to make an impact. This means that you’ll have to see a business, brand or product 7 times before it really makes an impact. This means that you should connect social media to the rest of your marketing in a strategic way.

Everyone in Your Company Should be Involved

It shouldn’t be an isolated team or the job of one individual. The organization should understand social media and the strategic value that it brings. Employees can be advocates and bring more value.

How a Real and Proper Vacation can Recharge You (Entrepreneurship)

Entrepreneurs: Take a Vacation

I’ve been running my business, Boot Camp Digital for over 5 years now (where does the time go). I love what I do. I work with great people. I’m always doing something fun and exciting. I look forward to working.

That being said, I recently found that I was having trouble getting energized about things…. I love my job but I noticed that some of my passion for using social media was disappearing. I rarely posted on Twitter (except to reply to people), I was only checking LinkedIn messages and ignoring groups and I was hardly posting to Facebook even. I think that after 7 years of social media I just kind of burnt out on sharing things on social networks…. I had sort of lost interest. I wasn’t building my personal brand, and I wasn’t passionate about actually using social networks any more. I still loved helping businesses use them, but I just kind of stopped posting myself.

Then I took a vacation.

I went away for over a week (10 days) and only worked for about 3 hours (plus checked emails from my phone when I had a break).

My first day back was a little tough – I didn’t sleep well so I was tired, and spent the entire day responding to emails (BLAH) and reviewing things.

Now, I find myself energized. Excited. Enthusiastic. Working until 9PM checking out some cool tools (which is kindof a good thing because it shows that I am excited about what I’m working on – not that I’m a workaholic)…

I’m re-engaged.

I’m re-energized.

I’m re-excited.

Take a real vacation (even if you love your work).

You may find that it gives you the clarity to recharge and get excited about things that were getting boring.

10 Things You Didn't Know About (Aboot) Canadians

Happy Canada Day! As a Canadian living in America, I wanted to clarify some of the things that Americans don’t know about Canadians…. Have something to add? Share in the comments.

1) Our Milk Comes in Bags.

Yes, it sounds weird and yes, it probably is. No, I don’t know why. You get milk in a 3-pack of bags, you put the bag into a jug and cut the corner. The milk isn’t poured into the jug, the bag sits in it and it is dispensed from the bag. Yes it is messier and grosser.

Photo by PMM

2) We Don’t Think We Have Accents

When I moved to America (9 years ago) I was accused of having an accent, which I blamed on mid-westerners having accents. Now I laugh when I hear my Canadian family talk with their accents… which they deny having. Canadians don’t hear their accents, even those that have been “beaten over the head with the Canadian Stick”. Don’t accuse Canadians of having an accent. They will deny it.

3) Canadian Thanksgiving is in Early October.

Yes, we celebrate Thanksgiving in early October. Most other major holidays (Halloween, Christmas, Easter) match up with the US and we follow the same calendar. When I first moved to the US I found it amusing to convince americans that we celebrated Christmas in November.

4) We Don’t Have Black Friday but we do have Boxing Day.

Black Friday doesn’t exist in Canada… Our Canadian Thanksgiving holiday falls on a Monday, and shopping has nothing to do with the holiday. We do however, have boxing day, which is similar to Black Friday, but it is the day after Christmas. People line up at store to get deals, but unlike Black Friday, we don’t trample each other (because we are generally nicer).

5) We’ve Only Really Been in One War, and it Was Against America. And we Won.

In the war of 1812, started by America, Canadians pushed the Americans back…past their ‘White House’. Then we burned it…and most of Washington, under the command of William Lyon McKenzie who was insane and hammered all the time. We got bored because they ran away, so we came home and partied…Go figure..  Also, Canada has the largest French population that never surrendered to Germany and the largest English population that never ever surrendered or withdrew during any war to anyone, anywhere. Although you could argue that it is because we don’t really fight any more (again, because we are nicer).  (Verified by Urban Dictionary – I know, totally credible).

6) Our Money Is Called Looneys and Tooneys. Seriously.

Yes it sounds like a joke, but it is legit. The looney is a one dollar coin with a Loon on it, and I guess Tooney for the two dollar coin just seemed to awesome too pass up. Also, Canada recently eliminated pennies, although I still don’t understand how that works, since prices may still end in a penny. The lowest coin is now 5 cents.

7) When You Search for Canadian Things on Google You Get Awesome Results.

For example apparently searches related to Canadians includes:

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.41.52 AM

Also, a search starting with “Why is Canada” may end with “A Country” or “in the “NBA”. Shaking my head.

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.42.33 AM

8) Canadians Think American Beer Tastes Like Water.

I remember growing up, a commercial for American light beer with the tagline “If I wanted Water, I’d ask for Water!”. This is because American light beer has less alcohol than Canadian light beer. Although in researching this post, I can’t actually confirm this “Canadian Fact”, but know that Canadians believe this to be true.

9) Nobody Uses the Phrase “Take off – Hoser”

I don’t know what TV show that came from, but I’ve never heard anyone say it. Ever. Also, we pronounce Toronto as “Torono”.

10) We aren’t all nice.

Especially me. I’ve been called the meanest Canadian (although at the time I was informed that I was still nicer than most Americans, just not as nice as the stereotype).

10 Things you didn't know about Canadians


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