Developing Discipline and Focus – the Keys to Success

July 10, 2013 by  
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I wasn’t a role model for discipline and focus until 1991 after I began my entrepreneur training program. I was one of those people who had to save every magazine I enjoyed such as Success, Fortune and anything pertaining to entrepreneurs. I have ADD and it was like the “follow the shinning object” syndrome when it came to the Internet in the mid90s. That’s when I knew I had to change my ways!
I hired an organizational consultant the first week in January 1993. I had her come over to my home office and after she watched me work for an hour she started making suggestions as to how I could organize my office for better time savings. The binders I would invariably refer to during phone calls were placed to the left of my computer. The filing cabinet was moved to the right with the files I most often had to look at were moved to the desk top drawer height. We created a clean work space to the left and to the right of the computer and phone.
Everything I needed was within arms reach. I no longer had to get up and stretch the phone cord to grab a file across the room or put my caller on hold to look up the information they needed.
Then she began the arduous task of going through the magazines and tearing out the articles I thought I might need for writing for my newsletter. She helped me create binders with sleeves and placed the marketing articles in the marketing binder; sales in the sales binder and so on. It seems so simple and logical now, but at the time, it never occurred to me I didn’t have to save the whole magazine.
We created an excel spreadsheet for phone calls rather than the carbon paper phone record book, sticky notes and scraps of paper I had been using. It was so much easier to record the date someone called, if they were returning my phone call, their name, business, number and a comment in the proper column. I highlighted calls when they were complete. At a glance I could see who I needed to call and make a note of the attempts to return calls. But the greatest benefit of all was being able to search for a name or company name six months later when I needed to go back and look up their information. Searching through my notes previously was a nightmare!
I have no idea how much time these few techniques saved me during the first year but the peace of mind in knowing where things were and diminishing the clutter was priceless.
That is what inspired me to hire a time management specialist the next January. We spent an hour going over my daily routine. He had me create a log of every activity I did for the first 30 days so he could recognize patterns and repetitive steps.
One of the simplest changes I made was to have my business mail sent to a mail box service rather than my home address. I picked up my business mail on Friday afternoon when I was more than likely already in the vicinity. Even though it might have only saved ten minutes a day plus the time to wade through the wanted and unwanted mail, he figured it was about a two hour time savings a week. I also learned to through out the junk mail before I brought it home.
Another time drain pattern that surfaced was how much time I spent in the car. It was about 30 hours a month or nearly an entire week’s worth of productivity. He suggested two ideas to remedy the downtime of my driving so much. First I changed my meetings to once a month rather than twice a month. I only made outside appointments when I was in the same area and eliminated the extra drive time to go back to San Jose which was an hour away.
But listening to books on tape (too early for CD’s) was the best suggestion he gave me. Rather than feeling the hour drive to San Jose was a waste of time, I felt I was contributing to my effectiveness by listening to Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins, Steve Covey and the likes. They became my mentors and guides to becoming even more efficient and productive.
The hardest time management change I learned from him was “just because the phone rang it didn’t mean I had to answer it,” especially if I was doing marketing or outbound calls. The discipline it took to not be distracted by an inbound call was excruciating at first. But logic prevailed and I became more focused on the importance of having specific times for specific tasks and soon my clients got used to having me available on Monday and Friday afternoons to talk with me on the phone.
I doubled my revenue the first two years after and it was proof enough for me to realize I was on to something worthwhile.
Every January for 12 years I alternated between an organizational and a time management specialist. I never hired the same ones twice because I assumed they would have told me what they could the first time we worked together.
I became more efficient, productive and focused than I ever thought possible. The greatest benefit was how I developed a discipline of being in the moment with whatever I was doing and not wandering mentally from one thing to the next. It alleviated a tremendous amount of stress and made me feel like I was in control of my business.

Getting Effective Book Reviews

July 1, 2013 by  
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Every book sells better with good book reviews, but who do you know who will provide you a great review? Do you know anyone who has the clout to raise eyebrows and gain you the level of attention your book deserves?

When people are browsing Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other online bookstores, they pay attention to what others have said about a book. The choices they have to purchase a book are insurmountable to make a simple choice, so how will you compete with all of the other books available and stand out in the crowd?

I did a brief search for Law of Attraction books and the results on Amazon are 8,893. How to Start a Business has more than 64 thousand results and diet books more than 77 thousand! Any category you choose will show you the competition is stiff.

Book reviews have proven to gain attention of those searching for a book, especially from online resources. Often authors will trade reviews to build up a stockpile of reviews, but the real gems are those reviews written by well know authors and experts in the same field as the book’s topic.

One of my friends sent a request to 25 well known speakers and authors requesting a testimonial for their book and sent along a copy of the book so they would know it was not just a fishing expedition. They received two generic comments about their book, but the names on the comments were priceless.

Another author I met while I was in Arizona told me he sent out 50 review and testimonial requests to well known individuals and received 12 in return. What was the difference? He actually looked through their books, used words they had written and wrote out the testimonial for them. He told them in his request what he had done and if they agreed all they had to do was send the suggested testimonial back signed or with the changes they preferred. He only requested reviews from people who were in the same field he is in and not just random authorities.

The difference in the response was impressive to say the least. Well known people are busy people, often with too much on their plates to read anyone else’s books or to write out a review and put their reputation on the line for someone they’ve never met. When you make it easy for them the results you achieve will be much greater.

There are many other resources for great review results. Newspaper, magazine and periodical editors and reviewers can make an impact on the perception of their subscribers and sway them to purchase your book with a positive review. They are often overlooked in today’s marketplace. One of the best reasons to have them do the reviews is they have the built in audience who already trusts their opinion.

Good book reviews impact Amazon algorithms drastically. It is one area of marketing however most authors shy away from. One method of gaining reviews is to write reviews for other books listed on the online bookstores which are in your genre and you will more than likely receive a reciprocal review in return.

Then, there are paid reviews. You can pay as much as $400 for a well known and respected reviewer. It doesn’t mean your book sales will sore overnight either. You might see an increase, but there are no guarantees. The reviewer will provide their honest take on your book and based on their reaction, it might not be what you are expecting from a paid review.

There are other sources such as Google’s “15 minute book reviews”, “San Francisco Book Review” or even “Pacific Book Review.” They can be fairly expensive but they will guarantee the will review your book for around $150.

The best place to start however is Midwest Book Review. They don’t charge for reviews and they are well respected and make their reviews available to libraries as well as posting the reviews on their website.

There are a few more suggestions such as Reader Views, The Book Reporter, and for ebook reviews, Kindle Obsessed, The Kindle Book Review and Red Adept Reviews.

But don’t overlook the book obsessed blogger who scours the world for their next favorite book of the week. Yes, they’re out there and all you have to do is ask them for a review and send them a copy of your book if they agree to read it. But don’t expect an immediate return on your requests, everyone seems to have more to handle than they have time to accomplish their tasks. So be patient!

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