Last nite, I had a most-awesome kickoff of my Company of Friends Book Tour at the Montclair, New Jersey, CoF. Besides thanking Serge Lescouarnec for sponsoring my visit, this blog entry owes its very existence to Glenn Steinberg, who not only kept track of the conversation, but went back home, transcribed his notes, and emailed me these notes by 12:45am. Wow! Thanks, Glenn!
A conversation sampler about simplicity…:
Bill: What bogs us down in our everyday life?
- Deciding how to delegate work to others
- Determining which tasks take priority
Bill: Cited research that said the five biggest time wasters are
- Dealing with communication from others
- Communicating to others
- Your boss micromanaging or undervaluing you
- Worktools and processes that are designed for company success, but not necessarily yours
Serge Lescouarnec: Acknowledged that he procrastinates with many things in his life, but his family and friends are his priority. He needs to get the crap straightened out in his life so he can have more time to spend with them.
Catherine Ashman: Recognized that she needs to determine how much risk taking she can handle, and whether something really needs to be passed onto others. For example, is a particular email important enough that it should be passed on to someone else or should she just delete it? The CEO, with whom she works closely with, often has trouble dealing with communication from others (One of the Top 5 time-wasters). The CEO often doesn’t communicate with her because he’s confident that Catherine knows what she is doing. She likes the compliment, but that forces her to be more assertive when she really needs to talk to him.
The group seemed to almost unanimously agree that email is one of the biggest time wasters in our daily lives. Very interested in not only learning how to delete as much of our email as possible, but also the best way to compose an email.
Among Bill’s Tips: Write a billboard, not a letter. The most important points need to fit in the top 3″x5″. No more than 10-12 short sentences. (About 75-85 words. It’s OK to write longer emails, but follow the journalistic Inverted Pyramid approach: Get your most important points at the very top, then have all the other details below, after they scroll down). Why? Everybody’s scanning their emails. Nobody’s reading them. You’ve got to write for scanning, not reading. You’ve got to grab people’s attention.
Make sure in that 3″x5″ space to do three things.
- Spell out the action required after reading the email
- Provide a deadline
- Make an emotional appeal to the receiver
This translates to the communication model of Know, Feel, Do. Whenever you have to pick up the phone, send an email, or make a presentation: always make sure you’ve written down or thought through three sentences that describe the one thing you want people to Know, the one thing you want them to Do, and how you hope they’ll Feel when you’re done. This will focus all your communication.
Wrap-up summary: Everyone found it refreshing and helpful that so many little things could end up making such a huge impact. It was clear that Bill’s passionate call to take more control over our lives through those little things had an effect on everyone. For example, Serge Lescouarnec said that he has to learn not to get upset over the things that he has no control over. An organization’s failure to communicate only propagates more time wasting conversations because the time must be taken to explain things slowly. Most everyone vowed to go back and re-examine how they deal with meetings, emails, and all communication.