The podcast episode addresses the issue of unrealistic productivity expectations, termed “magical thinking,” commonly faced by high achievers. Karen Tiber Leland provides insights into overcoming this challenge, emphasizing the impact of external circumstances on focus and productivity. Practical tips include breaking tasks into smaller steps and setting realistic productivity goals to enhance daily routines.

If you were running a really giant computer program on your laptop, it would likely slow down your computer — today, as a society, we have a few really big programs running in the background of our lives. Share on X

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Today’s episode is a little different. Instead of interviewing a guest, I’m going to share about something about some concerns around productivity I’ve recently encountered with clients and that I’m dealing with myself. 
After a call with a CEO client, I realized that many overachievers suffer from the same issue. Like many of us, my high-performing CEO client expected herself to be at her maximum amount of productivity all the time, no matter the circumstances. I call this magical thinking.
I invite you to take a moment to consider how to overcome this common issue during a short episode that gets to the source of the problem and that also provides concrete actions you can start taking, as of today, to inject a dose of reality into your daily to-do list. 


  • Be aware of the impact of circumstances on focus and productivity — top of mind are upcoming elections, COVID-19, unemployment, economic uncertainty, working from home, and social unrest.
  • Keep in mind that tasks are never singular — Most seemingly two-step tasks are in reality four to eight-step ones.
  • Inject some reality into your daily routine by lowering your productivity bar. 

About Karen Tiber Leland, Brand Strategist 

Karen Tiber Leland is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group, a New York City branding, marketing, and color strategy and implementation firm helping CEOs, executives, and entrepreneurs develop stronger personal, business, and team brands. Her clients include Cisco, American Express, Marriott Hotels, Apple Computer, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

She is also the best-selling author of nine traditionally-published business books that have sold over 400,000 copies and been translated into 10 languages. Her most recent book is The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand. She regularly writes for and and has had articles published in Self, The Los Angeles Times, American Way, The Boston Globe, and many others.

Karen has spoken for Harvard, The AMA, Direct Marketing Association, and Stanford, among others. She has been interviewed on The Today Show, CNN, CNBC, and Oprah.

Get in touch with Karen on Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook

Resources for Brand Strategy, Personal Branding, CEO Branding and Marketing Strategy 

If you’re looking to optimize your time, be more productive, and fine-tune your routine, I invite you to pre-order my latest book No Nonsense Time Management: 50 Smart Solutions, Powerful Habits & Proven Time Hacks To Make The Most of Your Day.

At SMG we serve clients across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Currently, we have 3 onsite locations:

  1. Looking For a New York City Marketing and Branding Strategist? Book an Initial Consult 
  2. Want a Business Brand Strategy Session in Austin, Texas? Book an Initial Consult  
  3. Need Some Help with CEO or Personal Branding San Francisco Bay Area? Book an Initial Consult  

Tweetables and Quotes to Share

It’s really all about seeing what’s working, what’s not, and making fine-tuned adjustments as we go. PODCAST: @KarenFLeland 

When something isn’t working, don’t try to fix everything at once, try changing just one element at a time. PODCAST: @KarenFLeland 

You’re not building the whole wall at once, you’re making a brick. PODCAST: @KarenFLeland 

If we move away from the dialogue of “It’s bad,” “it’s wrong,” “We should have done it a different way,” we actually move much faster. PODCAST: @KarenFLeland 

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