Looking to lighten your load when you travel? Here’s how.

      Looking to lighten your load when you travel? Here’s how.

      We live in a world filled with options. For example, “Would you like that latte decaf or regular? Low-fat, nonfat, soy, almond, regular milk or half-and-half?” However, where packing for a business trip is concerned, the fewer choices you have, the happier you will be.

      Click this link for these four steps, and your next business trip will be both lighter in suitcase and more substantial in style: This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

      How the most productive (and wealthy people) approach their to-do list.

      How the most productive (and wealthy people) approach their to-do list.

      Several years ago, I completed an international survey of over 20,000 business owners and leaders around the world. Most of the entrepreneurs I interviewed were millionaires, thanks to their smart ideas, hard work — and time management habits. These moguls were so successful in part because they knew how to be effective AND efficient. Here are the three time-management habits most of those millionaire small business owners had in common.

      This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

      Organize your computer and stop wasting your valuable time searching for lost files.

      According to one study from Microsoft, US workers spend an average of 7 hours a day on their computers, while still another survey from Accountemps found that workers spend an average of 6 weeks a year looking for things.

      While these two statistics may seem unrelated, think about this. One of the places we undoubtedly look for things is our computers. How much time did you spend this past week searching for a file you stashed somewhere on your laptop?

      My recent experience hunting and pecking for a client contract on my computer led me to the conclusion that just as I give my closets a good cleaning from time to time, I was due for a computer decluttering. Here’re the steps I followed to give my laptop a new lease on life.

      Clean up your hard drive.

      Since computer memory has increased exponentially over the years, storage is not in general a big issue; however, the bad habit of dumping info on our computers is. A few ways to keep your hard drive clear of the clutter include:

      • Delete any old working drafts of documents that have since been updated or are no longer useful.
      • Dump files that are so old, the information in them is outdated and never used.
      • Empty files that you created but never did anything with or that have no documents in them.
      • Eliminate files that have different names, but contain the same duplicate materials.
      • Delete all those hundreds (or thousands) of non-usable digital photos from your last trip.

      Set up a logical filing system.

      Try to mirror your paper filing system on your computer. The more your main folders resemble the names and categories you use to file paper, the easier it will be for you to both find and file various documents.

      In addition create a ‘working file’ or ‘pending’ folder that lives on your desktop and can hold anything you are currently working on and need to access quickly and easily. While much of your computer may be used for the archiving of information, the ‘working file’ folder can hold the most relevant information and projects.

      Finally, organize and update the bookmarks on your browser. Just as you may have random files floating around your hard drive, you more than likely have a ton of bookmarks that are not organized in any particular way.

      Go under bookmarks and choose the organize feature. This will allow you to make folders with logical names that you can group and move your various bookmarks into.

      Get control over your email.

      For most of us our email inboxes have become the dumping ground for all our unhandled to-do’s. To begin the process of email cleanup, start by going through your mailbox and deleting all old messages you no longer need. Then be sure to delete the messages in the trash file.

      Because most people have enough room on their computer to keep old email, they often skip this step. However, it has been my experience that the more current and up to date your email, the less time spent searching for what you really need.

      Next, establish an email filing system. One method is setting up your email folders the same way you classify your work. For example, if you generally reference your work by client, then set up folders by client name; if you generally reference by product, then set up by product name and so on…

      Finally, don’t fall into the trap of using ‘ignore’ as an option for dealing with the items on your computer. In the same way that a junk drawer, closet, or even room can become a loose end that drains your energy, random floating files, in an unorganized fashion, become the clutter that clogs up your computer.

      This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

      Why Crafting Your CEO Brand Should Be a Priority in Your New Role as CEO

      Why Crafting Your CEO Brand Should Be a Priority in Your New Role as CEO

      Many, if not most, are surprised to learn just how necessary it is for them to create a strong CEO brand in their new role as the chief brand ambassador of their companies. Those who do catch on, realize that creating a CEO brand is a powerful way to position their leadership and build the brand of the business. Here are three important ways to pursue your personal brand as a new CEO. This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

      Going Crazy Trying to Keep Up on Every Social Media Platform? Stop!

      Recently a new branding client called me in a panic saying, “We have to get on Snapchat. It’s the hottest thing. We can’t miss the boat.” I gently pointed out to the client that their core customer was women age 45-60, more likely the Pinterest — not the Snapchat — crowd.

      This intense pressure to keep up with the online Joneses has led to a flurry of action, but not necessarily impact. The idea that you should be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and more leads many business owners to join each and every social media network–but do none of them well.

      Instead, I encourage my small-business clients to think through the following three critical questions before choosing which social media sites to focus on:

      1. Where and how does our ideal audience(s) consume their information?

      Are they more likely to be reading blogs at Inc.com or surfing their Twitter feed three times a day? The answers help determine the social media site(s) that makes the best use of your resources.

      2. What are the demographics of the various sites?

      It’s important to take into consideration the details of each site you are considering. For example:

      Facebook. According to the Pew report, 72 percent of female and 63 percent of male Internet users are on Facebook, equaling over a billion users a month. The site also has a strong presence across several age groups with a majority being 18- to 29-year-olds, but with solid users in the 30-49 and 50-64 brackets as well.

      For businesses that have a strong business-to-consumer component, Facebook is a great place to showcase your brand personality since the site supports posting pictures, quotes, and fun updates–all opportunities to present your brand narrative to followers.

      Twitter. Twitter has an estimated 250 million unique monthly visitors but according to the Pew report is marginally more popular with males and with users ages 18-29. Unlike LinkedIn, where status updates can be weekly, successful Tweeters post at least 2-3 times a day, but no more than 8-10. Businesses using Twitter as a main social media strategy need to have a significant amount of how-to and informational tips, ideas, strategies, and suggestions they can tweet.

      LinkedIn. Considered the top B2B site for professionals, LinkedIn tends to attract an older, more educated and higher earning crowd than its competitors. One report by Royal Pingdom reveals that 79 percent of LinkedIn users are 35 or older. In short, LinkedIn is all about business. According to Lab42, top-level executives primarily use LinkedIn for industry networking and promoting their business.

      Pinterest. Pinterest is best known for appealing to a mostly female audience, with 72 percent of users being women at an average age of between 25 and 54. Twenty-five percent of Pinterest users have earned a bachelor’s or higher degree, and the majority have a household income of between $25,000 and $75,000.

      3. Do we have the time, talent, and/or money to pursue this social media tactic with excellence?

      Another client I was working with–the CEO of a mid-cap high-tech firm–felt strongly that writing a regular blog would be of great benefit to his CEO brand and his company brand. The problem? He wasn’t a very good writer.

      I suggested someone from his staff might take on capturing his ideas and turning them into initial blog posts. Sadly, no such person existed. As for hiring a professional writer, the costs–given the quality the client wanted–were prohibitive.

      In the final analysis the client settled on a strategy featuring a monthly, rather than a weekly, blog. He also went whole hog on his Twitter strategy–reaching out to influencers in their space to gain brand recognition.

      Regardless of which direction you decide to take your social media strategy in, the most important aspects to building your brand online are consistency and quality. Don’t let your social media accounts go idle, and don’t bombard your followers with promotion-only posts.

      Let the particular medium dictate what and how often you tweet, post, or pin, and you will be on your way to branding your business like a pro.

      This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

      How To Turn Your Business From a Noun to a Verb

      Years ago I went to visit some friends who lived in South Lake Tahoe. As I came over the crest of the hill, the panoramic view opened up before me. White snowy mountains, a deep blue lake, and crisp green pine trees–I was hooked.

      So hooked in fact that I decided to buy a cute cabin in a quiet neighborhood a few short blocks from the lake. As part of my ownership obligation, I was advised by my local realtorto make my new home as “cabiny” as possible. The reasoning behind this was that renters apparently expect a Tahoe cabin to look, well–like a Tahoe cabin.

      When I inquired as to what exactly comprised this mountain-esqe decor, I was shown images of log furniture, pinecone ornamentation, and anything with a moose on it–moose placemats, moose lampshades, moose pencil cup holders, and yes, even a moose toilet paper holder.

      Despite the fact that no actual moose have been seen in South Lake Tahoe for decades, the moose theme is so synonymous with cabin life that my friend Lynette and I coined the term “moosey” as a kind of shorthand to represent all things South Lake Tahoe–decoration-wise, that is.

      Essentially we had transformed the word “moose” from a noun to a verb. For example, my cabin did not need an interior design update. Rather, it was in need of a moose-i-fication makeover and some moose-ing up.

      The slang name for this process is “verbing.” The official term, according to etymologists, is “anthimeria,” meaning a functional shift in the use of a word.

      Successful brands do this all the time. Google has now become so associated with the activity of searching the web that regardless of the search engine you may be using (Yahoo!, Bing, YouTube, etc.) the common expression is “I’m going to Google that.”

      Hoping to turn a noun into a verb in your business? Bear in mind that this requires a fair amount of fate–one communications professor, Scott R. Hamula of Ithaca College, says it’s “more aspirational than achievable and involves a lot of serendipity.”

      Regardless, here are three steps you can follow to help lady luck moosify (so to speak) your brand:

      1. Replace a sentence for the action with a single word.

      Brands that become verbalized replace sentences that represent actions with single words. For example, people don’t say, “I will Gmail that” because a word for that–“email”–already existed. They do however say, “I’ll Uber,” because prior only a sentence such as “I’m going to call a car service to get home from the party,” could convey the idea.

      Ask yourself:

      • What actions do people take when they use your service or product?
      • Is there a current word that exists for that? If not, is there a single word you can extract to represent the action?
      • Are you the first to bring this to market? If not, is there an aspect of what you are doing that is first?
      • Is there a way we can make our brand an “ing” so that it is a thing?

      2. Keep it to two or three syllables.

      A Skype call, Google search, Photoshop image, or FedEx package. All of these have one thing in common: They’re simple to say and contain very few syllables. In general the shorter and sweeter you can keep the term, the greater the chance you have that it will catch on.

      3. Socialize it.

      The more you can use your noun as a verb in your marketing collateral and conversation with your customer base, the stronger the possibility that it will become verbalized. For example, Twitter created and promoted the idea of “tweeting”–and now even presidents do it.

      One word of warning.

      Turning your company brand into a verb can potentially endanger the trademark, if it becomes the generic term for the product or service; i.e., Xerox (for copies) and Kleenex (for tissues). Barbara Findlay Schenck, coauthor of Branding for Dummies, points out that Rollerblade inline skates spends heavily to educate consumers that rollerblading isn’t a sport; it’s a specific brand.

      Consider the trademark case where Windsurfer applied for a wind-propelled, surfboard-like apparatus patented in 1968. The term was presented as a verb (windsurfing) to describe the sport of sailboarding, and the courts found the mark to be generic and no longer protectable.

      If all this has your head spinning and you feel like you might need some time to step back and think about how to verbalize your brand, I’ve got a nice cabin in the woods that’s all moosed up and ready to go.

      This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

      Small Businesses Beware: Bad Boss Behavior Doesn’t Just Happen in Big Companies

      Sexual harassment, temper tantrums, a ruthlessly aggressive corporate culture and disgruntled drivers. These are just a few of the plethora of problems facing Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. So much so that after a heated exchange with an Uber driver that went viral in May of this year, Kalanick publicly declared, “This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help, and I intend to get it.”

      But executive intervention may not have come hard or fast enough for the CEO, who as of this week is on track for a leave of absence. The bigger story here, however, (beyond the Uber debacle itself) is the underlying issue of toxic bosses — a problem not limited to large companies but equally rampant in many small businesses and start-ups, as well.

      In one study from the University of Manchester’s Business School, researcher Abigail Phillips found that leaders who show narcissistic tendencies and have a strong desire for power are often lacking in empathy, a toxic combination which can result in those individuals:

      • Taking credit for the work of others
      • Being overly critical
      • Behaving aggressively

      “In short,” says Phillips, “bad bosses have unhappy and dissatisfied employees who seek to ‘get their own back’ on the company.” Specifically, the research showed that working for a toxic boss can result in:

      • Lower job satisfaction
      • High levels of clinical depression
      • Counterproductive workplace behavior
      • Increased workplace bullying

      And the impact of toxic bosses is not just limited to the internal workings of the organization but can have dramatic consequences for a corporation’s reputation as well.

      Toxic bosses are bad for business.

      One study, reported on in the Harvard Business Review by Stanford Professors David Larcker and Brian Tayan, found that the impact of bad boss behavior on company standing was dramatic. In the reported incidents that Larcker and Tayan studied, the specific story of bad behavior was cited in more than 250 news stories each, on average. In addition, the CEOs’ behaviors were still being referenced online up to an average of almost 5 years after the initial incident occurred.

      A flood of frustration.

      OK, so I think we can all agree at this point — toxic bosses, bad. But how do you make sure the strain and stress of the job isn’t overcoming your naturally jovial nature and turning you into a tyrant? Anna Maravelas, author of How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Stress, says the place to start is by identifying when you are experiencing the neurobiological state of flooding.

      “Flooding is when our body becomes awash with adrenalin and cortisol,” says Maravelas. “The stress and pressure of the workplace can lead to a flight or fight response in reaction to frustration and make otherwise good people into toxic bosses.” Maravelas says that the walnut-sized amygdala part of the brain lights up during flooding and interferes with analytical thinking, memory and even hearing. The key to halting this tidal wave of hormonally induced bad behavior is to pay attention to the little pause that happens in between the time when something happens and we react.

      3 possible responses

      According to Maravelas, there are three habitual thinking responses:

      1. Blaming the other person or situation. For example, you are waiting in line at the local deli, anxiously looking at your watch, worrying about being on time to your next meeting with a new prospective client. You find yourself thinking, “What is wrong with these morons? Could they move any slower?” This type of response inflames the flooding response and can lead to inappropriate expressions of anger.
      2. Blaming yourself. You are standing in the same line at the local deli worried about being late, but saying to yourself, “I always do this. I am such an idiot. I should have left earlier; now I am going to be late.” This type of response is reactive and focuses the anger inward, and it often leads to depression.
      3. Curiosity and problem solving. There you are in the same line, finding yourself concerned about being on time for your next meeting. What you are saying to yourself is, “I know this clerk is doing the best he can, and they are short staffed. I’m here at peak time. Is it worth it to wait? Should I just leave or text and say I may be late?” This type of response allows for the greatest degree of problem solving and is an antidote to flooding.

      “The first and second responses blame either another person, a [NM2] system or yourself,” says Maravelas. “The third response generates curiosity and humility and looks for data.” All three responses become cognitive habits — unconscious or not — and can be changed with practice and by working backward. “If you are flooded, it’s likely that it’s because of something you are saying to yourself,” says Maravelas. “Go upstream and identify what triggered your sense of anger, hopelessness, etc., and change what you are saying to yourself to be more organized around the third response — curiosity and problem solving,” she says.

      As for Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Maravelas says it’s probably a good idea for him to take a break. This way he can get some distance from the demands of the job and put the brakes on the flooding that’s leading to his bad boss behaviors.

      This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

      New Study Explains why Swearing May Make Your Next Speech Shine

      Most of us get a bit of tight tummy syndrome when we know we have a presentation coming up. I’ve worked with hundreds of executives preparing to give a big presentation, and regardless of their content, competency or charisma — they all shake in their stilettos (or wing-tip leather Oxfords) when faced with an audience.

      We have all heard the reports declaring that the fear of public speaking is even greater than the fear of death. It’s so much a part of the culture that comedian Jerry Seinfeld joked about it saying,

      “I saw a study that said speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear of the average person. I found that amazing. Number two was death. Death is number two? This means to the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

      But whether your next public speaking gig is a corporate meeting, keynote speech or television interview, some new research on swearing shows a simple way that cursing can prepare you to hit it out of the park the next time you stand and deliver.

      Swearing and emotional arousal.

      A new research paper published by Keele University psychologist Dr. Richard Stephens found a direct connection between swearing and emotional arousal. A Psychologytoday.com post on the topic, quoted Dr. Stephens as saying:

      “We appear to have established a two-way relation between swearing and emotion. Not only can swearing provoke an emotional response, but raised emotional arousal has been shown to facilitate swearing. These psychology studies demonstrate that there is more to swearing than routine offense-causing or a lack of linguistic hygiene. Language is a sophisticated toolkit and swearing is a useful component.”

      Emotion is the key to great public speaking.

      Just how important is getting your emotional mojo up before a big speech? “Very,” says Charlotte Dietz of Speakwellpartners.com. Dietz, who has trained CEOs, TEDx speakers and entrepreneurs, says that most businesspeople want to scurry past emotional context in their presentations. “Fearless presenters use emotionally charged content to grab an audience’s attention, not to manipulate, but to connect and ensure that their ideas stick,” says Dietz. “Today, science has validated what the ancient Greeks knew — without affect there is no effect.”

      Where and when to swear.

      Just so there is no misunderstanding, I’m not suggesting that you bring out the bad words at your next board meeting. I am suggesting however that the next time you are due to speak, take a few minutes beforehand, sneak into your office, hide backstage (or in a bathroom stall), and say with as much gusto as you can measure:

      “Ok, people, I’m [expletive] ready to rock this presentation.” Then go out there and give ’em hell — just watch your language.

      This article originally appeared on Inc.com.