The Cardboard Room in a Box Takes Flatpack Furniture to a New Level

Photo courtesy of Room in a Box/Indiegogo

Photo courtesy of Room in a Box/Indiegogo

Opening up a new business is an expensive endeavour, that doesn't always leave much room for office furniture. If you need a quick, temporary solution, design firm Our Paper Life has created the perfect alternative called Room in a Box.

[contextly_sidebar id="7MwcyLTmIpz8kyeLjppraCoB9ai8OfBz"]

The company will mail a wheeled cardboard box to you, full of an entire room of furniture made out of cardboard. The delivery will include a folding desk, a chair, a wastebasket, and 12 cubes that you can use as shelving, or you can use your imagination and design your own piece for furniture using the cubes.

Our Paper Life also says that the furniture is very easy to set up -- the entire thing is said to be completed within 10 minutes without the help of glue, tape or tools. Plus, the cardboard itself is laminated to make it water-resistant, and the pieces come in array of colours -- blue, green, red and yellow.

It seems Our Paper Life's target demographic is students about to move in to their first dorm room. However, I see many other uses for Room in a Box. Think inexpensive coworking spaces, temporary offices, or an expansion of a home office.

You can pre-order your own Room in a Box for $149.

Millennial Monday: Gen Y Wages, and Why We're Turning Down $150,000 Jobs

pay and motivation

pay and motivation

In this week's edition of Millennial Monday, I'm sharing my take on two recent articles regarding Gen Y wages.

[contextly_auto_sidebar id="0IteccOyb5vprV7DAD4lcNwgt2ore5IX"]A key reason I procrastinate is if I just don't like doing something (either the activity itself or the context around it), so it's telling that I put off writing this Millennial Monday post for an extra week.

I'm just not motivated by money. Of course, I want to make plenty of it -- I've got a house and lifestyle that I'd love to keep above water -- but it's not the driving factor that makes me push myself to excel.

It looks like I'm not alone. At Stanford, fresh grads are turning down six-figure salaries in favor of work that's more in tune with their sense of purpose.

Startups and tech companies will sometimes offer Stanford students as much as $500,000 in compensation right out of school.

But all the Stanford students we spoke with insisted that they would never take a job just because it pays more.

Hired.com CMO Tyler Willis says that 80% job applicants don’t end up accepting the highest offer. Via businessinsider.com

Instead of money, the article continues, grads are looking for significance -- impact, a mission, doing good in the world. They crave the opportunity to learn and grow, and the freedom to work on interesting projects where they can take initiative.

I agree with all these motivators, and I'd also posit that Strategic Coach founder Dan Sullivan sums it up succinctly with his four Entrepreneurial Freedoms of time, money, relationships and purpose.

We want to work on stuff that matters -- for the world, and for us personally. We don't want to be micromanaged. We want the authority to act without asking permission.

Let's juxtapose this with a new analysis of Gen Y wages by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, using government data. On average, we're not making as much as our parents did, especially millennial women who don't live in New York. Check out the state-by-state breakdown:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-average-salary-of-millennials-2015-3

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-average-salary-of-millennials-2015-3

One of the charts reveals the average income of millennials (defined as those aged 16 to 34). "In 2013, the median annual earnings for millennial women working full-time, year-round were $30,000," states the report, "compared with $35,000 for their male counterparts." They earned less than millennial men in all but one state — New York. Between 2011 and 2013, young women in the Big Apple made $38,319, while men earned $37,542. The average salary of millennials - Business Insider

Of course, averages are deceiving -- we're looping startup engineers with grocery store checkout clerks -- but the gender pay gap bears mention.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Millennial Monday: Office Pomp and Circumstance

judge judy
judge judy

In today's edition of Millennial Monday, I'm sharing my take on two stories I read last week about what I call office pomp and circumstance. I'm really lucky in that I get to do what I love from home 99 percent of the time. I have a couple meetings a month that require me to go to a traditional office setting... which only strengthens my convictions that certain aspects of the corporate work environment are absolutely useless.

Two stories I read this week underscore these points beautifully. First, Anna Johansson squares off on meetings for Entrepreneur. My favorite point in her piece:

While many people consider meetings to be “work,” they aren’t. Just because they take place in an office with people doesn’t mean that anything actually gets done. Most meetings are spent talking about work, and if you’re talking about work, you aren’t actually working on anything. Talking about solving a problem doesn’t solve the problem. In some cases it might clarify the problem, but in many cases, it will only complicate it or do nothing at all, putting everyone back at square one when the meeting is over. Read the other reasons meetings are useless...

The default mode for many corporate folks is to call a meeting to discuss a topic or report progress. It's how things have always been done, but it's treading into dangerous waters.

Last week, I wasted over four hours in meetings. In one hour, the topic had zero overlap with my responsibilities, so I didn't have anything to add. For the other three hours, the topics and to-dos could have been succinctly sent in an email... leaving me the rest of those three hours to research and complete those to-dos.

Meetings may be efficient for the CEO or decisionmaker, but for the team members whose roles center on execution, they're largely time sucks.

Speaking of time sucks, let's talk about the workplace fashion racket. Matilda Kahl, an art director at Saatchi & Saatchi, has it all figured out: like Steve Jobs and most suit-wearing men, she's adopted a single outfit variation that she wears daily:

The simple choice of wearing a work uniform has saved me countless wasted hours thinking, "what the hell am I going to wear today?" And in fact, these black trousers and white blouses have become an important daily reminder that frankly, I'm in control. Read the full post...

Kahl cites the ridiculous pressure on women to uphold a flawless image at work, and the stress that picking the day's outfit used to cause her.

I've definitely experienced this pressure, and my way to alleviate it has been with Le Tote. Since most of my workweek is spent at home, I've felt less urgency about constantly shopping for dressy clothes -- completely unlike how I used to feel when I managed an upscale restaurant.

And yet I felt self-conscious about the clothes in my closet. While getting ready, I'd go through an internal dialogue: Did I wear this dress last meeting?Are people going to think I only have two or three nice things to wear to work?

I have no idea where this insecurity came from, but it's horseshit. And I know I'm not the only woman who's felt this way.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Millennial Monday: 3 Key Strategies on How to Hire Millennials

millennial in a hat and jacket

millennial in a hat and jacket

In today's edition of Millennial Monday, I'm sharing my take on how companies can hire millennials. [contextly_auto_sidebar id="uy826QbcIqDyJqHuC8XOyxQLQTq9hh07"]A couple of my friends are going through some dire employment straits that have made me think about recruitment from both sides: employer and employee.

Entrepreneurs often tell me how they want to hire someone just like me, a millennial who "gets it." Yet, in many cases, they don't understand how to naturally attract us.

For starters, forget Facebook-like perks.

I like Evan Burns' take from a recent Inc.com article:

Purpose, cultural fit, and mission dominate all. There is a reason that people will sleep on disgusting couches in hole-in-the-wall apartments to start companies or to campaign endlessly for a politician they love.

If a candidate chooses you because you have better food, a fancier game room, or a nicer office, watch out--because you know where their loyalty lies, pretty soon it will be at the shiny new place down the street. Read more at Inc.com...

I believe in creating my own perks using the freedom of time that my work creates.

My favorite perk of all time, though, is being able to work from home full-time and invest my earnings into improving my house and physical surroundings.

Next, get clear on your company's purpose -- and your own.

Research from Deloitte reveals that many millennials use purpose as a core factor when job-hunting:

6/10 Millennials said a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer.

77% of Connected Millennials said part of the reason they chose to work where they do is because of the company's sense of purpose. Read more from Deloitte...

Finally, look for candidates who can evolve.

Today, change is the new normal, and generalists who can quickly adapt to new responsibilities, capabilities and technologies will be more valuable than specialists.

Gary Vaynerchuk cites this idea as a key hiring strategy at VaynerMedia:

I don’t believe in trying to strengthen weaknesses, but I do believe in working hard to be good at many things. In life you will be required to take on many different tasks. You might be really good at something now, but don’t let that stop you from finding out what else you can dominate. Because I know it’s not just one thing. You’re better than that.

We adapt and evolve our skill-sets depending on our particular situation in life. We do it all the time, so to consider yourself a specialist is limiting. And no excuses. When I hear people make the excuse that they can’t do other things because they’ve gone so deep in one focus, it bothers me.Via medium.com

These strategies may seem simplistic, but they're the ones that companies tend to screw up most when trying to hire millennials.

[Tweet "3 key strategies on how to hire #millennials, via @efficient"]

Millennial Monday: Where We Live (Hint - It's Not in Cities)

millennial man sitting on rock ledge

millennial man sitting on rock ledge

In today's edition of Millennial Monday, I'm sharing my take on stats and stories on where we live. [contextly_auto_sidebar id="kvFgs570CZANxaM6VT6uMiRJveN8Pezb"]I've been thinking a lot about my living situation lately. I used to think that homeownership wouldn't be in my future, at least not in my near future.

It's expensive as hell to own in Southern California, and for years I rationalized renting because it enabled me to live in neighborhoods where homeownership was financially out of reach (Hollywood Hills, Santa Barbara, San Diego).

And then in December 2014, I had the kind of deus ex machina most people only see in movies. My dad died, just 18 months after my mom, leaving my childhood home in Toluca Lake (Los Angeles) vacant. Do I sell it and buy a condo, or do I move back to L.A., like, instantly?

Amid colossal grief, I saw an opportunity.

I sat on the decision for a month, and then orchestrated the move over an additional two-week span. It wouldn't be a cheap decision: the mortgage and living expenses would be a little more than what I'd been paying in San Diego. But I'd gain 1,000 square feet in living space plus a front yard, backyard and garage.

What's more, I'd get to continue my parents' legacy and finish the remaining rooms they hadn't renovated. It just felt right, and so far it has been.

It turns out I'm not the only millennial moving out of the city into the suburbs. Most people think of Gen Y as city-dwellers, but the latest research indicates this isn't quite the case:

According to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week, 529,000 Americans ages 25 to 29 moved from cities out to the suburbs in 2014; only 426,000 moved in the other direction. Among younger millennials, those in their early 20s, the trend was even starker: 721,000 moved out of the city, compared with 554,000 who moved in. Somewhat more people in both age groups currently live in the suburbs than in the city. Read more at fivethirtyeight.com

Why the move out of cities? I think it's all about efficiency.

For those of us living in big cities, it's borderline insulting to pay more in rent for an 800 square-foot apartment than you would for a three-bedroom house an hour out of the city. Plus, some of us want pets and yards, and are tired of paying extra rent for the privilege.

Technology and the rise of remote work have also made it less important to live close to your place of work. I haven't worked in an office since 2007 (and that was a restaurant!).

But just because we're moving out of the cities doesn't mean we're moving into homes. Check out this graph on the millennial homeownership rate:

http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2015/03/the-changing-economy-and-a-generation-that-cant-afford-homes/

http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2015/03/the-changing-economy-and-a-generation-that-cant-afford-homes/

Via blogs.mprnews.org...

Although I'm a homeowner now, I identify with my peers who don't own homes. It's so expensive to buy, especially here in California. I used to feel disappointed that, despite a great income, I couldn't buy a home in the neighborhoods I wanted to. That I could buy, but I'd have to settle.

Sometimes I feel guilty about how lucky I've been.

That didn't sound right. Let me clarify.

Losing both of my parents in such a short period was horrific. It still is. I'd give all this back to have them here.

I've accepted the fact that my parents are gone, and am always looking for the positives in what has otherwise been a dismal situation.

With this perspective, I lucked out. I walked into a mortgage and just had to make the payments. I'm benefiting from property tax rates from my parents' purchase date in the 70s. I'm in a beautiful home that I couldn't afford otherwise, and my neighbors have known me since I came home from the hospital. I'm walking distance from everything I could want.

Although my story is different, my approach is the same as my peers. We're all trying to make the best of our situation and take advantage of opportunities as they happen.

The trouble with housing is that, unlike other areas of our lives, we can't manufacture luck through hard work. So many other factors come into play -- credit, interest rates, savings and down payments, location, bidding wars, home costs, maintenance and repairs -- that it's absolutely dizzying.

What do you think about the millennial homeownership rates? Tweet us @efficient by clicking the link below.

[Tweet ".@efficient I think the #millennial homeownership rate is..."]

When Do You Have the Most Clarity?

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2qlt_rq-2tk-fre-sonneveld

When do you have the most clarity?

Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing?

These are all questions that top experts ask and try to solve. At the end of the day, there is no magic pill and the solution is a little different for everyone.

In a recent I Love Marketing podcast, Jamie Smart, author of Clarity: Clear Mind, Better Performance, Bigger Results, says there are three types of clarity:

  1. Clarity of Connection: This is a feeling of closeness that you get when you are around someone. Something just feels right even if you can’t put your finger on it. You and another individual are on the same page and things just seem to make sense when you are together. Although, that “it” factor that draws you together may be unclear, this is a type of clarity that must be embraced.
  2. Clarity of Thought: Clarity of thought occurs when your thinking is closely aligned with the reality of life. For athletes, this is generally the instant right before you throw the game winning pitch or the moment right before the trigger goes off to start the race. It is that moment of peace in absolute chaos when you have a feeling of knowing and you can execute. This can also be a time when you have your best ideas and can be the most creative.
  3. Clarity of Understanding: Finally, clarity of understanding occurs when something just clicks and everything begins to fall into place. This is not a new revelation or grand idea. This occurs when you accept something and can overcome it.

For some these moments, come while exercising, doing yoga, or in the shower. However, where it happens is not as important as learning to get there. Once you are made aware of these points of clarity in your life, an automatic learning curve starts to form and you are more likely to be able to find them more easily and more often.

Learning how to find these moments of clarity in your life can be radically important because if you can control when and how you jump into these moments of clarity you can control how efficient and effective you will be.

Why RuPaul is One of My Productivity Heroes

rupaul charles

rupaul charles

I'm often asked who my productivity heroes are. I've got plenty of obvious choices, but to be honest, long-term, I've gotten the most usable insights from icon RuPaul Charles, best known as RuPaul.

Background

I am a child of the 90s, so I first learned about RuPaul during her "Supermodel (You Better Work)" era.

But it's while watching the competition reality show "RuPaul's Drag Race," and the drag queens competing for the crown, that I've gotten the best productivity insights and motivation.

1. Everything is your choice.

RuPaul has always encouraged agency, autonomy and exercising independent control over our emotions.

We as a culture believe that if other people change their behavior, then my life will be so much better. When the truth is, why would you give that power to someone else outside of yourself? It's up to you to do what you need to do to make yourself happy. But don't depend on other people changing what they do or how they present themselves to you, or how they address you to dictate how happy you're going to be. Read the full interview

When you free yourself from this pressure -- that your happiness hinges on others' behavior -- you're free to choose only that which actually makes you happy.

Over time, this approach also gives you the courage to make all sorts of choices that make you happy, even if they're non-traditional.

Hate office drama? Work from home. Don't like the pomp and circumstance of traditional weddings? Elope, or don't get married at all. Want more control over how much you earn? Screw the standard job and start your own business. It's always your choice.

And if you get offended by others' opinions along the way? For RuPaul, and for me too, the onus is on you to choose how you feel about any given situation.

It’s just words! Like, 'Yeah, words hurt me!' Bitch, you need to get stronger. If you’re upset by something I said, you have bigger problems than you think. Via queerty.com

This distinction is essential for people who are taking big risks and diverting from the norm. I've gotten so much criticism from people who didn't understand some of the nontraditional lifestyle choices I've made: eloping, refusing to work in a traditional office, taking monthly working vacations, outsourcing much of my shopping to Amazon and delivery services.

Had I listened to these critics, or wasted emotional energy processing their "helpful advice," I wouldn't be me, and Ridiculously Efficient sure as hell wouldn't be here.

2. Nobody's perfect, and that's okay.

We all want to be the best -- to find the best workflows, or the best work-life alignment, or to be seen as the best among our peers.

That relentless pursuit can sometimes trap us into discontent when we inevitably discover we aren't perfect.

RuPaul always looks flawless from head to toe, and exudes confidence and self-assurance. So it was surprising to hear his take on perfection.

I’m not perfect, and part of the brilliance of drag is that the whole premise is a joke. That’s what makes it so profound. That’s why throughout the ages -- witch doctors, shamans, court jesters -- are there to remind people to not take themselves so seriously. So the perfection you see is really, really not. Read the full interview

This healthy dose of perspective and humor are exactly what high achievers need so we don't drive ourselves insane.

3. Adaptability and resourcefulness are essential to success.

Like a chameleon, RuPaul's career has continually evolved: model, pop star, television producer, author, actor. On "RuPaul's Drag Race," you never know what RuPaul will wear, what persona he'll portray.

This constant state of flux has given him staying power, even as trends and pop culture change.

My ability to adjust to what the situation calls for has been my secret weapon. Via papermag.com

Resourcefulness is essential in my world, too. New apps, workflows and strategies are constantly emerging. Researchers are uncovering all sorts of data on how and where we should work, how our brains process stress and interruptions, and the optimal conditions for happiness at work.

Because of all this change, our competitive advantage at work is our ability to adapt and find a way to make things work.

But what challenges emerge when your career is built on pushing boundaries and breaking new ground? For RuPaul, and for all of us, it's the same: engagement.

The biggest success in my career so far is staying engaged in my work. I'm a powerful witch, we all are, and depending on how I choose to see a situation that's the experience I will have. Via papermag.com

How do you push yourself forward when you're competing against yourself? This drive has to come from within. There simply isn't enough external energy to keep my internal fires stoked. So I am my own power plant.

I'm constantly reinventing my own work processes and how I approach tasks. Not because I have to, but because I want to. Because I still feel like there's a better way -- I just haven't discovered it yet.

For all these reasons and more, RuPaul has been a source of personal and professional inspiration on how to excel at being unparalleled. In the days to come, I'll be sharing more icons who've shaped who I am and how I got to be ridiculously efficient.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Millennial Monday: Where Are the Jobs?

line of coffee cups on a table

line of coffee cups on a table

In today's edition of Millennial Monday, I'm sharing my take on stats and stories tackling a core question: Where are the jobs? (Click here to skip to the TL;DR)

Here's the good news: millennials are on track to be the most educated generation ever. All the cajoling from our parents and grandparents on the importance of an education has paid off! 

http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/20/news/economy/millennials-jobs-college/

http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/20/news/economy/millennials-jobs-college/

Today's young adults are on track to becoming the most educated generation to date, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. More Millennial women, in particular, are securing their diplomas than their older sisters, mothers and grandmothers. Via money.cnn.com

But, as you might imagine, there's a downside. Despite our awesome education, millennials aren't getting jobs.

http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/20/news/economy/millennials-jobs-college/

http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/20/news/economy/millennials-jobs-college/

Via money.cnn.com

Want some more bad news? Most millennials with jobs aren't earning what they used to.

But even with more education, working 18-to-34 year old adults are earning less than they did 15 years ago. Since 2000, real wages for people in that age group have fallen by a full 10 percent, according to Census data. Lower pay is not just a by-product of the most recent economic downturn. As corporate profits and productivity have increased in recent decades, wages for most workers have not kept pace. That means a shift in what kind of life workers can afford. Via nbcnews.com

That said, some of us are doing just fine.

Despite unemployment rates and the stereotype that millennials are all unemployed and living in their parents basement, many young adults today are defined as affluent, meaning they are living in households with annual incomes that exceed $100,000. In fact, there are 15.5 million affluent millennials in the United States. Read the full post at Forbes.com...

TL;DR

1. Millennials are the best-educated generation ever.

For whatever that's worth.

2. More Gen X-ers than millennials are employed, and millennial women have a slight employment edge over men.

Go women! It's about damn time. Now let's let wages catch up.

3. Some millennials have found ways to make a solid living, but those working "regular jobs" aren't paid as well as in the past.

See my Final Thoughts below for more on this point.

Final Thoughts

If you're one of those not finding a job, pave a new path. It's not going to be easy, but it is that simple.

If you can't make the money you want to make in your current industry with your current skill set, invest in new ones. Look elsewhere. Don't complain, evolve.

Jobs are going to continue disappearing, whether due to the changing nature of employment, the rise of robots and artificial intelligence, or collapsing economies. So we can't count on what used to work, because the world 50 years ago was nothing like the world today.

It's no longer about your history -- what you've done in the past. It's about your future -- the results you can provide and the skill sets you can continue to evolve.

The bottom line: Resourcefulness will always win.

2 Painstaking (and Painful) Productivity Lessons From My Parents' Death

photo-1414788020357-3690cfdab669 Nobody likes to talk about death, but here goes.

In the last year and a half, both of my parents died (Mom in June '13, Dad in December '14). In picking up the pieces, and contrasting their very different approaches to personal organization and accountability, I uncovered two crucial lessons.

1. Have the tough conversation, even though no one (including you) wants to have it.

Marissa and her parents in 2013I remember a couple of awkward conversations I had in middle school with my parents. We were in our living room, and my mom and dad were talking to each other about their final wishes and intentions.

It's odd -- at the time, little kid me shut down and disengaged from the conversation. I didn't want to even think about my parents not being around. But I still remember everything they said, almost verbatim.

"I want to be cremated," my mom said. "I don't want to rot in a grave."

"Me too," my dad added. "And I don't need a f*ckin' fancy urn, either. Spread my ashes."

"Yeah, same here. I want my ashes spread in Hawaii."

"And I want an Irish wake," said my dad, taking a big swig of his beer. "No crying. Everybody's drinking and having fun. Telling stories about Old Man Brassfield."

After my mom died, lots of family opinions surfaced on what we should do and what Mom wanted. But because of that conversation, and similar ones like it later, we were clear. It simplified everything and made the interactions we had with others much easier, because we were confident that we were carrying out her wishes as intended.

And when my dad died this month, I had no one to ask. Just my memory of those conversations. And we had an awesome Irish-style wake.

Have the tough conversation now, to save hours of painful analysis and indecision for your loved ones later.

Marissa's parents in their early 20sMaking assumptions that your spouse or kids know what you want steals precious mental energy from them at a vulnerable time. Instead of grieving, they're forced to agonize over what you might have wanted -- and potentially regret a bad decision.

I witnessed this at the mortuary, when I overheard a conversation in the room next to mine. The family was deliberating between urns, some of which were out of their budget. The woman said to the person accompanying her, "We'll have to think about this and come back tomorrow."

I can't imagine what that next scene at home was like, but I know it might have been avoided with a tough conversation.

2. If it's important, collect and store it in a logical spot.

My parents had two very different approaches here, but both ended up working perfectly.

Mom was a financial analyst, a notary public, MBA and lifelong student, and she kept meticulous records on everything that happened in their lives. So when I needed anything, from my dad's military records to our trust documents to the service records for the family cars, it was just a matter of finding the corresponding manila folder.

My dad wasn't as patient or passionate about organization, but he had his own deceptively simple system. When my dad died, I couldn't find their checkbooks or his most cherished possessions: his 101st Airborne ring, his Breitling watch, and the book of logins and passwords my mom maintained. He'd hide these items in the house, usually together, but I couldn't find them after looking in all the obvious places.

Then I thought about our recent conversations. He'd purchased an iPad 2, and we'd talked extensively about how to set up iCloud and some other apps. I looked in my old bedroom, and after rifling through a couple boxes, I saw the box for the iPad. I picked it up, and the weight in the box shifted unevenly. Bingo. I opened the box and it was all there.

Show your loved ones where to find important documents and items now, before they need to find them in a hurry.

Because of my mom's impeccable organization, I was able to find information I was clueless about but needed immediately, like my dad's Social Security number, his birthplace and his dates of military service.

In the days afterward, it was easy to find our trust documents, registration and service records for the cars, and even which companies and contractors they used around the house when things needed to get fixed.

I can't imagine how much of a hassle it would have been to notify government agencies, banks and lawyers if I had to search the house for this info.

Conclusion

When I think about productivity, I think about economy and efficiency in everything I do. How can I get the most done with the least effort or investment?

Proactivity is essential. So is a heavy dose of courage.

I'm grateful to my parents for a trillion reasons. But this month, I'm most thankful for how their actions in life enabled me to make efficient, accurate logistical decisions after their deaths and, ultimately, spend more time grieving and healing than agonizing over tiny details.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

REBEL Spotlight: Eunice Miller, Piranha Marketing & Genius Network

Front Row: Eunice Miller, Arianna Huffington, Joe Polish (Photo Credit: © Debbie Lefever) When REBEL was just a crazy idea, the first person I sought counsel from was Eunice Miller. So it's only appropriate that she was the first Rebel and the first person I interviewed. [rebel]

Interview:

Quotes

Share the above images freely -- but please include a link to REBEL: http://rebel.so

Transcript

Marissa: Hello, Hello! I am with one of my favorite people in the whole world, Eunice Miller, who works for Joe Polish for the past 19 years; which is absolutely insane. I am so excited to share Eunice with you for a little while.

So Eunice, tell me your story, your "Joe Timeline." Nineteen years working for one of the most visionary entrepreneurs -- how has your life changed and evolved over that time and how has your role changed?

Eunice: My goodness, well, first of all I have known Joe since we were in high school and he was best friends with my husband when they were in junior high, and so that was how I first got to meet Joe, but I remember specifically I worked for an advertising bureau before I started working with Joe and I remember one night I was complaining to my husband that I was not happy at my job and that I was going to have to start looking for another job because I just wasn't happy there and the phone rings and it was Joe.

I remember thinking "Oh, ok, he must be wanting to talk to Marty."

He was like "Well, no, actually I'm calling to talk to you."

I'm like, "Ok, what's up?"

He's like, "I just started this marketing company and I am looking for an assistant and I thought that maybe you might be interested."

I remember thinking, "Oh my gosh that is so weird that you are asking that because I was just telling Marty that I am not happy with my job."

He's like, "Well, why don't you come to my office? We'll talk about it, see if it works out."

So I met with him and we talked for about an hour or 90 minutes and he offered me a job and here I am 19 years later.

Marissa: So crazy!

Eunice: You know, I am like, I owe a lot to Joe because when I first started I didn't know how to use a computer, I didn't know anything about marketing, I knew nothing. Joe, he had to show me how to turn on the Apple computer, how to create a UPS shipping label to ship a package.

I was really shy, and part of the job I started out with Joe was selling his marketing programs to the cleaners, because he started as a carpet cleaner. I think that Joe tells this story. I think after a week, maybe 2 weeks, I had applied to other places and I got a callback into an interview at one place and I was thinking, "You know, maybe I can take that job over there because there is benefits and I don't have to sell and stuff."

And so I remember sitting down and telling Joe one day, "I don't know if this job is for me, I can't sell, and with this place over here, I don't have to sell, it's 9-to-5, I get benefits."

Joe turned it around and said, "You are thinking you can't sell, you are selling me right now. You are selling me on the fact that you can't sell."

And he just turned it around and showed me, and I was like, "You know what? He's right, I'm being stupid."

I talked to my husband too and he was like, "You know, I really think that you are going to have a better opportunity with Joe if you just give it a little time."

And so Joe talked me into staying, and here I am. I have grown a lot as a person and some of the stuff we have done together, I would have never done. Twenty years ago, if someone would have said, "You will be going to Necker Island, you are going to be doing events for 250 people, working with entrepreneurs, millionaires," I would have been like "You're crazy! There is just no way."

Marissa: So talk about your role now, what is your day to day like? What are your big projects?

Eunice: You know we have a group called Genius Network, which is...

Marissa: I got my binder.

Eunice: Yep, there you are! [Genius Network] which is our core business. I am kind of the lead concierge for that, so we do meetings here at our office. We also do an annual event -- we have our annual event coming in August.

I have been Joe's main assistant for the last 19 years, but have also been kind of the Chief Experience Officer for Genius Network. I love event planning. I love talking with people. I love just hearing about people, what they want to do, their goals, and how to help achieve that.

Joe is a big visionary, he is always so wanting to be helpful to people, and be useful. He is an amazing guy that likes to do, he is such a contributor, I guess.

Marissa: Absolutely. So, you interact with a ton of entrepreneurs just as part of your world, but also their teams and of course you have had teams of your own. What are some of the key characteristics that you believe people like us have to have to be successful in working for these crazy entrepreneurs?

Eunice: I think that one thing, especially for the assistants, they need to have an open mind and it is really about communication and knowing what you are capable of and what your strengths and weaknesses are.

For example, I never thought that I could sell, or that I could organize an event for 200 people, but part of that was really having the confidence in myself and also having the confidence and wanting to do work with the entrepreneur and just make that person better.

Whenever I do stuff with Joe or work with Joe, I am always trying to think of how can I make this easier for him, and for myself, and for the team. I think that is really important.

I also think that teams need to be not only about communication, but have the desire to grow. They want to be part of something.

Just like with me, I get frustrated with Joe, and he gets frustrated with me, and I am always thinking, am I trying to be right, or do I need to get it right? That is two important distinctions. I don't need to be right, I just want things to work. No matter how it needs to work -- whether I need to go and find someone to help do it, it doesn't have to be about me.

It took me a long time to get to that point because I thought I had to be the one to do it. Now, I learned, especially through Joe, he is willing to put forth the effort, or the money, or anything to just get to a better place. I think that a lot of assistants don't get that.

That is one of the best things I learned about Joe. He doesn't tell me how he wants me to do something, he tells me what he wants done and I have the freedom to go make it happen. A lot of times, especially in corporations, you don't have that. It's like, "You do it this way, all the time, don't deviate from it."

In an entrepreneurial company, I think unless you are similarly minded, people will either love it or hate it. If you don't have the mindset to really think it through and think about how you can make things better for yourself, then it is just not going to happen.

Marissa: You and I have talked in person about a support group for entrepreneur's teams. What are some of the crazy interesting scenarios that only we could really talk about as part of work? So I think about Peter and it's like you know, he is going to text at 2 in the morning with some crazy idea for some incentive competition he wants to run, or the crazy emails, or the...

Eunice: Mine would be, which I am sure would be for a lot of people, you know, it's getting the text, getting the audio memos, getting the videos, getting the email and then it is this endless 24/7 loop now. It's not always like that, but you have to be ready to jump on anything that comes your way, but also have a balance because I think entrepreneurs have a tendency, they can burn people out fast. They are always innovating, they are always creating, and some people, they just don't work that way.

I had to learn how to deal with that because I don't. Honestly, I am a very structured person, but I learned how to be adaptable. I guess that would be a trait that someone would need to learn is to be adaptive. Hey, as much as you might like it to be structured, it is not going to be like that. You have to roll with the punches and figure out a way.

Marissa: Sure. So, let's dive into the boundaries part of it. You have a family, and you have worked for Joe for 19 years. How did you sort of craft your boundaries, and how did that process go, and what does it look like now?

Eunice: Well, when I first started it was Joe and I. We had, when I came into it, he started with the carpet cleaners and he had maybe a couple hundred clients. That grew over the years to over 3,000 clients and then when he started Genius Network, we have got close to 150 in the group and there was a lot of just trying to make stuff happen and doing what needed to be done to help build and grow the business.

Nowadays, Joe is very good about having boundaries about himself – he's better at it – nobody is 100% perfect; and the same with me. I always thought that when Joe requested something, and he texted me, that I had to do it right then and there.

I would get frustrated and be like, "I haven't finished the 10 things you asked me to do half an hour ago."

Then we had a discussion about it because I think I replied back not so nicely about it, something like "Give me a break," or whatever, and he actually left me a message saying, "I wasn't expecting you to do it right then and there," and it really opened me up to think that gosh, that was my perception, and maybe he doesn't need me to do it right then.

He has been a lot better now when saying, "Hey, can you do this, by tomorrow is fine." He is really good about that. My work process that I like to live by, my process now is I work Monday through Friday. 6:30 pm is my shut-off time. Sometimes I stick to that, but other times I am working until 10 or 11 o'clock at night, but I am choosing to do that. And absolutely Saturday and Sunday, and especially Sunday, I don't do any work.

I have been really good about saying, "Hey, you know what, I am going to work on this, but I am taking Saturday off, so I won't be on email, I won't be checking my phone. I will address everything else that might come in on Monday morning."

That is really good for Joe or anyone else that comes on the team. We kind of do that for each other so that they know, "Hey, she's not ignoring me" or he's let me know "Hey, I am taking some free time," which I think is really really important for everybody to kind of decompress."

Marissa: How do you de-stress? What does your unwinding routine look like?

Eunice: You know, for me, I love to read so going to a coffee shop and reading. I like to do a lot of massage, like, reflexology is really calming for me, but you know, it's alone time. I start work at 6:30 in the morning by choice. Our office is open from 8-5, but I have always been an early riser. That 90 minutes I get by myself is the most relaxing and rewarding time for me because I know that the rest of the world is sleeping and I can knock these 5 to 6 things out before anybody comes into the office or anyone starts texting or sending emails. That has always been a big one for me to have the alone time.

Marissa: Oh yeah, I love that. I have the benefit of working from home so I totally get the sanctuary. The shutting of doors physically or just setting a boundary almost. Creating your workspace. So how do you balance the competing deadlines in projects? How do you keep them straight in your head?

Eunice: You know what? I am still trying to learn more about that. Because before, I have always kept stuff in my head, which is not the best way to do things -- things get lost in the shuffle, especially with someone like Joe who is always coming up with ideas and innovating and lots of to dos.

Here at the office, everybody has mini recorders. Joe bought these cool little cell phone holders and we all got mini recorders so ...

Marissa: How fun!

Eunice: Yeah, a lot of times I will carry a mini recorder and I will just start recording Joe. Everyone on the team knows if you are going to be with Joe, you have that mini recorder handy.

There are a couple of technological things we just started using. We just started using Asana, so I have been diving into that a little bit and that is... still getting the hang of it, but most of the time, especially with deadlines I am a very structured person. So when someone gives me a task, I will go and see and I will start listing what are all the to do's that need to be done and by when.

I am very good at knowing how long something is going to take. So once Joe starts saying "I want to do this, this and this," then I am immediately thinking, "If he wants to do that, then we have to move this one over here because this is going to take 5 to 6 hours," and I am automatically thinking in terms of how long something is going to take and how I can get it done in the least possible time, I guess.

Marissa: Absolutely. So what is one piece of advice that you would have given yourself 19 years ago based on what you know now?

Eunice: I think I would have told myself always be thinking like a partner.

With Joe, one of the things I love most about Joe is that he has never treated me like an employee, he has always treated me like a partner. He is always constantly asking me for my feedback. And that to me is more important than money, because to me that shows he actually cares, he actually believes in what I think and it is very valuable to him what I think and I need to give him that feedback.

For someone who is starting out, you have to go with what you feel is right, and you need to offer that constant feedback. Your entrepreneur is going to appreciate that more than anything. Make sure you are keeping them on track.

Most entrepreneurs, I don't know, a lot of entrepreneurs have "yes" people around them and that is okay, but then there has to be the time where you say "Why are you doing that? This is not a part of who you are, or where you need to be. Let's scale back a little bit and talk about this and see if it is a 'not right now,'" because I think a lot of entrepreneurs think "I can do this, and I can do this, and I can do that," and everything is a good idea.

That is one of the things about Joe. He can sell you on anything and everything sounds so good and you think, "Oh yeah we should do that," but at the end of the day it is like, should we really be doing that? That is how I think assistants can help their entrepreneur the most is being that feedback mechanism for them and showing them how to get things done more efficiently: what things they should be working on and what they need to just get rid of, how to automate and simplify their life that much more.

Marissa: Totally, and what I love about what you said is the right answer is not always "yes." What is funny is one of our meetings a couple months ago, Peter had us all in the room and he said, "Hey look, I didn't hire you to agree and say yes. I hired you for your brains, and your minds, and your opinions. Let's share them." He thinks of us like consiglieres -- the trusted advisors in the mob. Thinking of it that way, and especially when you are wired to help, you want to enable, you want to say yes all the time. It is an important distinction, which I am so glad you brought up. Sometimes the right answer is no, or not right now, or maybe this isn't the best fit for the direction you are heading in.

Eunice: And sometimes I am going to say, "No, we shouldn't do this," and he is going to come back and say "No, I want to do it," and that's okay. But to just go along with everything, I learned, that is just going to frustrate everybody, because you can't do everything.

Not everything can be done, but as long as you are coming from a place where you are really wanting to help simplify, automate, and you are in tune with the entrepreneur and what their goals and their visions are, everybody wins.

Marissa: Yeah, absolutely. Out of curiosity, do you have any quirks or habits or routines, things you… it's just a thing, it's just a thing that Eunice does and it works for her and, you know?

Eunice: I don't know that they are quirky, but one thing that has taught me how to have peace of mind is I don't do work when I am out to dinner with my family, or I am having family time I cherish that and it is sacred time with my family so I don't do any work. I will turn my phone off but I let people know.

For the most part, Sunday is my day with my family so if you want to get ahold of me, just know that I am not going to respond because I am taking a free day.

I don't have the notifications on my phone or my computer. I don't know how people deal with the popup that you have a new email. That would drive me crazy. I think I am more productive because I turned that stuff off years ago. An IT guy showed me how he could do that and it was the best thing I ever learned from an IT person. He was like, you can turn those notifications off. So I don't have notifications on anything, on my phone or on my computer.

Marissa: I don't either and it is immensely calming.

Eunice: So calming. It is so interruptive. I don't know why anyone would want to be disrupted by those popups. You have stuff going on up here, you don't need to be looking at your computer and getting that input too.

Marissa: Exactly. Well darling, any final pieces of advice for people who work for visionary entrepreneurs like we do, any of the downside, just free flow any tips and advice?

Eunice: First I want to say thank you, this has been an honor.

Marissa: Thank you!

Eunice: No one has actually interviewed me before so this is new and interesting for me. I guess famous last words would be working for someone like Joe, or Peter, or any visionary, is what an incredible opportunity it is.

To know that you are working for someone and with someone who is out there making things happen and changing the world is an incredible opportunity.

I feel so fortunate, and so lucky to even have the opportunity to work in an environment like this because I am really creating my own life as I am helping the entrepreneur. It is just coming about and helping everyone and creating value, and that is the best feeling in the world.

Marissa: Gratitude is a great place to end on. Thank you so much for your time, Eunice. Love and appreciation.

Eunice: Thank you.

Marissa: Talk to you soon. [/rebel]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Vetter the Online Suggestion Box Ensures Employees are Heard [Interview]

vetter interview

A major cause for disruption in employee happiness tends to be caused by a lack of communication between management and employees, and workers feeling as though they are disengaged and uninvolved in the way the company is run. To help companies of all sizes ensure employees' voices are heard, Vetter has designed an online suggestion box.

The online application allows employees to submit their ideas. Others within the company can then login and rate and comment on submissions (which show up as anonymous during this process). Anything with a rating of two stars or higher is vetted. Management can then sort through vetted ideas and get a better understanding of what changes employees might want to make. Employers can also use Vetter to launch Idea Challenges, which alerts employees when the company is seeking out a creative solution to a specific problem.

Co-founder of Vetter Duncan Murtagh, spoke to us about how the online suggestion box can contribute to the overall productivity of a company, and he even shared some of his own productivity secrets. 

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1. What was the inspiration behind Vetter?

The idea for Vetter arrived when Steven (co-founder) and I were working at a bank in Taiwan in 2011. This was where they first encountered the frustration of their ideas not being heard by management and not knowing if innovative ideas were even welcome. We knew suggestion boxes existed, but they were becoming less and less visible and were often referred to as the black hole, as nothing ever came out of them. We looked around for a solution online but found nothing. So we decided to enter Taipei Startup Weekend and took 2nd place and pushed on from there.

2. How can Vetter help to change an existing office culture and retain high-performing employees?

Vetter’s introduction can have an instant impact as it, or a similar tool, immediately communicates “management want your ideas and look what we’ve invested in to help with that”. It’s a concrete sign that ideas are welcome and management now want to make the culture more open.

Unfortunately I haven't got any exact data-points but a Gallup study found that compared to the bottom 25% of companies, the top 25% of companies (in terms of employee engagement) had: 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations) not to mention 37% lower absenteeism and 22% higher profitability. So the higher employee engagement that a tool like Vetter would bring can have a major impact.

3. TigerAir began using Vetter because a large majority of their workers do not work in a traditional office, and the rest are scattered through four offices. With so many companies offering flexible working, how can TigerAir and other companies like it use Vetter to increase employee engagement and the overall productivity of a remote workforce?

A web-based service like Vetter is always available to employees, no matter where they are based. These types of ‘available anywhere’ web-based tools are becoming more and more widespread. It’s essential for TigerAir to have something that’s available anywhere, as obviously, their staff are literally flying all over the place.

[Tweet ""Every day, make to-do list on small piece of card. If it’s a small card, you are forced to only list the 4-5 things you really need to, and can, get done.""]

4. What are your favorite productivity tips that help you make the most of your day?

Every day, make to-do list on small piece of card. If it’s a small card, you are forced to only list the 4-5 things you really need to, and can, get done. You place checkboxes beside each task and check it off as you do them.

[Tweet ""Unhappiness among workers in America is costing a shocking $300 billion per year in lost productivity, the Gallup-Healthways estimates.""]

5. What factors lead to employees working more productively?

I think there are lots of different factors:
1) Happiness levels - are employees happy enough that they want to work productively? They have to be reasonably happy to do their best every day, I've seen this with the teams I have managed, but if anyone doubts this opinion, Gallup have come up with a typically huge number for the cost of unhappiness: "Unhappiness among workers in America is costing a shocking $300 billion per year in lost productivity, the Gallup-Healthways estimates;"
 2) Engaged with their work - if they aren't engaged and just don't care, they'll never seek out any ways to be more productive. Disengaged employees will do what is needed, in the way they've always done it and no more.;
3) Give employees access to the tools to be productive too, so I.T. shouldn't block half the internet, thus preventing employees from accessing productivity boosting tools like www.focusatwill.com (which I use for hours a day).

Communication Breakdown: Are Meetings More Important for Women?

millennials in a meeting A long-standing issue seems to be the differences between men and women in the workplace. Everything from pay to stereotypes have been factors that have led to a lack of gender equality, which still exists even at high executive levels. A recent article on Success.com takes a look at a recent report titled "Why Meetings Matter Even More for Women."

The report is from researchers at Flynn Health Holt Leadership, who conducted a year-long study of female executives and reviewed thousands of other evaluations. They also surveyed females who worked at vice-president or higher levels, and interviewed both men and women from Fortune 500 comapnies. The goal was to gain a better understanding of how gender roles influence high-level meetings.

Some of the findings were pretty astounding, with interviewed executives talking about dominating and timid personalities in the conference room. The article even offered some advice for women on how to better communicate during meetings. Marissa Brassfield (founder and CEO, Ridiculously Efficient) and I broke down the article to offer our own insights on the topic of gender differences in the workplace. Check it out below.

But in years of discussions and coaching with high-level female executives, some of the challenges we consistently hear include:

“You have to shout to be heard in meetings.”

“I don’t like to repeat what’s already been said.”

“It’s hard to read the room if there are no other women around the table.”

Marissa: Oh boy. I see issues here not just with these female executives’ perception, but with business operations. As a start, meeting attendees should all be decision-makers and key stakeholders. This ensures that every attendee’s opinion carries serious weight.

And why do we need women around the table to read a room? If you’re unsure about a point someone’s making, ask him or her directly: “Dave, I just want to reflect on your last statement -- are you saying that we should bring on a new marketing team?” And if you want to achieve consensus on a decision before moving on, say so.

Rosemina: To me, this sounds like a lack of confidence. I don’t really understand why any of the those three statements would occur, unless the issues go far beyond gender differences and are more about the workplace itself and office culture.

Why is there so much yelling during meetings? This just seems unproductive, let alone that high-level executives are frustrated with the way meetings are being run. With the right structure, no one will have to yell and nothing will have to be repeated. As for that last statement, I don’t see why gender is even relevant here, which brings me back to the confidence thing. For the women being quoted, are male employees more intimidating? I really hope this isn’t the case, especially since these are clearly intelligent women who have made great careers for themselves.

[Tweet "Meeting attendees should all be decision-makers and key stakeholders."]

Women we interviewed feel that they can’t break into the conversation or feel they’ve been “put in their place” when a male colleague dismisses their opinion. Says one female vice president: “[Women] either don’t like the conflict or don’t know how to come back in a way that does not appear defensive. Some of it may be a lack of confidence.”

Rosemina: This reminds me of something I read in Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? She talks about being the only female writer on a popular television series (The Office), and how she really had to stand up for herself in the writer’s room to ensure her ideas were heard. Sometimes this meant getting into screaming matches with the other writers. She knew she was going into a male dominated arena, and she did what she had to to assert herself and gain respect as a talented writer.

While screaming matches might not be acceptable in all workplaces, women have to find a way to ensure they are respected and heard at their jobs. This will sometimes mean engaging in conflict or appearing defensive -- it comes down to standing up for yourself and what you believe in in order for you to be good at your job. The way that women do that is totally up to them, but the point is that it has to be done.

Marissa: Conflict is a necessary and essential part of life. Regardless of our gender, we need to get comfortable with having tough conversations, or else we’ll drive ourselves crazy. I don’t love conflict, but I get around it by disassociating my personal self-worth from work: nothing that happens at work can shake how I perceive myself and the value I bring to the world.

[Tweet "Women either don’t like the conflict or are afraid of appearing defensive."]

Men, for their part of the survey, see their female counterparts as lacking confidence or failing to articulate a strong point of view. Men interpreted women’s passion for a project as being “too emotional,” or cited women’s failure to back up that passion with concise, factual data.

“These are high-octane meetings that are filled with domineering personalities,” one male CEO admitted. “Women are often either quiet and tentative or they pipe up at the wrong moment, and it sounds more like noise to some of us.”

Rosemina: This last statement sounds like sheer disrespect to me. I understand that timing is important, but what this CEO is saying is that these “tentative” women are not offering ideas that are important enough for him to listen. I also love that a woman feeling passionate about her work equates to being “too emotional.” I can bet they wouldn’t feel that way about a man showing passion for the same things. Shouldn’t we all feel passionate about the projects we work on?

Maybe if women weren’t typecast as “too emotional” or “tentative” in the workplace, they would feel more confident during meetings.

I am curious about what generation those interviewed belong to, and how the answers might vary amongst millennials or even in startup culture. I’d like to think more workplaces have embraced 21st century gender equality and encourage office cultures in which both men and women can share their opinions and ideas confidently and openly, without the worry of such scrutiny... even when “domineering personalities” are involved.

Marissa: I’d also love to hear about the generations surveyed, but I sense this is a communication issue more than a gender issue. If we provide too much contextual information for the situation, people who prefer short-form, bulleted information will tune out or disregard what’s said. Direct communication -- which, by the way, doesn’t mean terse or rude or mean-spirited -- helps you get your point across efficiently.

1. Get in on the pre-meetings: Many ideas have already been vetted and decisions already made well before the actual meeting—in casual conversations passing in the hall, the elevator or walking to the train. Taking part in informal conversations before the meeting can help you understand more than what is reflected in the written agenda.

Marissa: If the decisions have been made before the meeting starts, why is the meeting happening? Sometimes a little “proactive management” is necessary to get the context you need -- I don’t mind this tip.

Rosemina: I agree that it is necessary to be part of the on-going conversation, whether in meetings or not. But, if the case is that a decision has been made beforehand, then meeting attendees should be notified and the agenda should be updated, if the meeting still needs to take place.

2. Say at least three things in the meeting: Start early. “Did you see the headline about…?” or “I went to a great restaurant last night…” This shows others you intend to speak and be a major player. Arrive early and get a good seat—claim your space.

Marissa: Talking just to talk -- especially if you have a mental “comment target” -- can sometimes do more harm than good by reinforcing lame stereotypes like the CEO’s sentiments up above. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have people say of me, “She doesn’t always speak up, but when she does, it’s always relevant and useful.

Rosemina: Marissa, I totally agree with you. I don’t think it is entirely necessary to engage in this type of conversation before a meeting, especially since this really is likely to encourage these ridiculous stereotypes. I do, however, think that it’s important to have social interactions with colleagues -- but there’s always a time and place.

3. Raise your voice: Up the volume in an assertive and calm manner so your point of view is truly heard, rather than dismissed. Think of it as two clicks up on the TV remote.

Marissa: Yes. If you sound timid, people will perceive you as weak -- even if they shouldn’t. Practice careful diction, and instead of saying silence-fillers like “um” or “you know,” pause and take a breath.

Rosemina: I agree, you have to assert yourself to ensure your points are heard. However, it’s much too easy to cross the line into a place where you are typecast as being “too aggressive.” It sucks that women have to think about these things, but if this article is any indication, it seems as though the world hasn’t come as far as I thought.

 

How do gender roles affect how meetings are run are your job, if at all? Tell us in the comments below, or on Twitter @efficient!

Key Differences Between US and UK Employment Law

employment laws This is a guest post by Samuel-James McLoughlin.

“You’re fired!” might be the catchphrase of Sir Alan on The Apprentice, but it’s much more likely to be uttered by his US counterpart, Donald Trump. That’s because when it comes to employment rights, the US model is much more geared towards making employment easy for the employer.

The more British employees learn about US employment law, the more US employees can appear to resemble commodities to be exploited.

Some would say, of course, that tipping the balance in favour of employers allows them to be more flexible and to make employment decisions based more on need and ability rather than on the rights of employees. And that, in turn, should lead to a more successful business – and more employment.

“At Will” Employment

In the UK, the law leans towards making employment a right that gets stronger as time passes. Employers must have stated reasons to terminate someone’s employment. If the position itself becomes unnecessary, employees can be made redundant, but even this comes with certain rights, for example a period of notice and a payoff in line with the number of years’ service.

The only way a British client can be summarily fired is for gross misconduct – violence, racial abuse, theft, failure to turn up for work or embezzlement, for example.

The difference stems from the understanding that US employees are employed “at will” – which means that either party can terminate the employment for any reason without fear of legal action. Employees do not have to work notice – they can chop and change employment at will.

Of course, if there is a contract of employment that overrides this understanding, the “at will” understanding does not apply.

Paid Holiday Entitlements

Holidays are another huge difference. In the UK, full-time employees are allowed 28 days’ paid holiday per year (including public holidays), and part-time employees get an entitlement in direct proportion with that of a full-time employee.

In the US there is no entitlement to paid leave. Many companies do offer paid holidays to employees, but these tend to be relatively low compared to those enjoyed by UK employees – typically, 10 to 20 days’ paid leave are offered per year.

Sick Pay

In general, there is no right to sick pay in the US, although San Francisco, Washington DC, Milwaukee and Connecticut have passed local laws that guarantee it. In most of the US, if you cannot make it to work because of short- or long-term illness, you have no income from your employer.

The situation could not be more different in the UK, where most employees qualify for statutory sick pay, and in many cases there is no need for a doctor’s not proving sickness. While the UK example might help with morale and discourage “presenteeism," many business leaders feel the right is widely abused.

Minimum Wage

Both the US and the UK have minimum wages. In the US it is $7.25 per hour, but different states have set their own levels.

In the UK the minimum wage is dependent on whether the employee is an apprentice (£2.68), under 18 (£3.72), 18–20 (£5.03) or 21+ (£6.31). (These are correct as of July 2014 and change quite regularly).

Tips

In many industries, most notably hospitality, employees can receive extremely low set wages on the understanding that they will receive a substantial amount from tipping. The law states that the combined amount must never be lower than the minimum wage, however, and the employer must make up any difference if the tips are lower.

In the UK, employees must be paid the minimum wage and tips are a bonus, usually seen as a benefit for good service. Customers give tips entirely at their own discretion.

 

Samuel-James McLoughlin is Press and Communications Officer at hronline and has over 15 years’ experience in the field. He has worked in HR for the last 5 years and has been with hronline since its launch in 2013.

We Finally Tackle the Big Millennial Debate - How Different Are We?

millennial worker A recent article from the Harvard Business Review brings to light a subject that has been debated among employees, employers and HR experts for years now -- just how different are millennials and do we need a different management style? HBR's Amy Gallo did some investigating into the most common statements made about millennials and if there is actually any truth there. She gathered information from management experts and studies that generally say that millennials aren't that different after all.

Marissa Brassfield (founder and CEO of Ridiculously Efficient Inc.) and I broke the HBR article into pieces and offered our take on the whole millennial conversation, as millennials ourselves. See our responses to the comments below.

They’re completely different from “us” at that age. False.

Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School, has studied the research done on Millennials and says it comes up short. “There is no real serious evidence that there’s a generational difference,” he says.

Sure, older generations look at Millennials and think they’re not like them. Those observations are based on cognitive bias, not actual differences. “It’s easy to assume young people are different in disposition because they seem different from you. But young people are always different than old people. For example, young people are much more interested in dating than those who are older and settled. And they don’t have obligations in the same way that older people do,” says Cappelli.

Rosemina: Of course we are different, every generation is different. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t all kind of the same at certain points in our lives. Millennials are different because we grew up with the Internet, we grew up having mass amounts of knowledge at our fingertips and with the ability to communicate with people all over the world in real-time. That makes us undeniably different. However, from my point of view, these differences don’t take away from the similarities of people’s experiences at different points in our lives. Anybody seeking out a specific career will likely spend a good portion of their 20s educating themselves, getting their feet wet with potential career paths and making a few mistakes along the way. So, we are different, but we are also kind of the same.

Marissa: I echo your sentiments here. Each generation has had an unusual set of challenges that shapes our worldview. Anecdotal evidence worth pointing out, though, is that we millennials grew up with boomer parents who told us we could be and do anything we dreamed. Our boomer parents, in turn, were raised by parents who went through the Depression and saw World War II. The attitudes they instilled in our boomer parents were slightly different: work hard (even if you don’t love your work) and persevere, because that’s what you have to do to put food on the table.

Millennials want more purpose at work. False.

“There are some perceptions that many people have that simply aren’t true and this is one of them,” says Twenge. Her research comparing data from U.S. high school seniors in 1976, 1991, and 2006 shows that contrary to popular belief, Millennials don’t favor “altruistic work values (e.g., helping, societal worth)” more than previous generations. In fact, they place slightly less emphasis on “a job that gives you an opportunity to be directly helpful to others” than Boomers did at the same age.

All those companies offering pay to employees for their volunteer work? They aren’t responding to a need presented by Millennials. That’s a benefit that seems to have always been valued by U.S. workers; and it may be useful motivation for younger and older workers alike. “The same is true for emphasizing how the company benefits society; GenMe is no more or less likely to be interested in the social good than previous generations were,” her report says.

Additional research by Twenge shows that a concern for others is actually lower in this generation than previous ones. “Compared to Boomers, Millennials were less likely to have donated to charities, less likely to want a job worthwhile to society or that would help others, and less likely to agree they would eat differently if it meant more food for the starving. They were less likely to want to work in a social service organization or become a social worker, and were less likely to express empathy for outgroups,” she writes.

Rosemina: This surprises me. My perception has always been that previous generations (such as my parents) pursued careers largely to ensure their families were taken care of, while my generation has always been more interested in pursuing passions and turning them into careers, which often involves philanthropy and work in the humanities. It surprises me even more that millennials are less likely to donate to charities or less likely to want a job that contributes to society in a positive way. I have always been the type of person who has wanted to do something good for the world, and I just assumed others my age felt the same way (even though there hasn't been much evidence of that amongst my peers).

Marissa: The key distinction here is “altruism” versus “purpose.” Those are not synonymous in this context for me. It’s one thing to want a job that directly helps people and improves society; people will gravitate to that type of work regardless of generation. It’s another topic entirely to want a job that involves doing meaningful work -- and here, I posit that millennials, due to the way we were raised and empowered to seek greatness, are far more vocal about their displeasure in this area than other generations were.

They want more work-life balance. Somewhat true.

Looking at the data, Twenge did see a slight rise in how much Millennials value work-life balance. “Recent generations were progressively more likely to value leisure at work … GenX and GenMe placed a greater emphasis on leisure time than did their Boomer counterparts,” she writes. Almost twice as many young people in 2006 rated having a job with more than two weeks of vacation as “very important” than in 1976, and almost twice as many wanted a job at which they could work slowly. In 2006, nearly half wanted a job “which leaves a lot of time for other things in your life.”

But Cappelli points out that those changes are still pretty minor. Plus, he says, many managers overemphasize this difference, in part, because they forget what it was like to be young themselves. When you were 22, “you probably wanted to get out of the office in a hurry — you were interested in what was going on after work,” he said in this March 2014 New York Times piece.

Marissa: Millennials have had an unusual combination of circumstances to create this attitude shift. Our working boomer parents couldn’t always make it to games or recitals because of their schedules. They also instilled a belief in us that we could have the life we dreamed of… so for me, it was always the opposite: “I’m never going to miss my kids’ games. I’m always going to prioritize vacation time.”

Another factor to mention is the rapid technological advancement we’ve seen in our lives. Now, more than ever, we have instant access to information about how other cultures live. So we can see firsthand, through photos and videos and social media, what it’s like to live in a country that has a 35-hour workweek, or 2 p.m. siestas, or mandatory month-long vacations. And thanks to technology, we can do things faster: we can outsource rote tasks, get instant help on a computer glitch, crowdfund a passion project, and make purchases from our smartphones.

Rosemina: I totally agree with you here. Every generation wants to be “better” than the last, especially when it comes to parenting (for example, boomers wanted to be able to provide for their families in a way their parents couldn’t.) This has led millennials to taking a stronger stance when it comes to making enough time for family and personal experiences. I also think the “personal experience” is something that really resonates with millennials, largely due to, as you pointed out, technology. Having so much information available to us has opened our eyes to what the world has to offer, and we want to drink up as much of that as we possibly can.

Can Women Have it All? We Analyze PepsiCo CEO's Honest Interview

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi is the CEO of PepsiCo, a job that leaves little time for family and fun. Indra recently appeared at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where she was interviewed by David Bradley, the owner of The Atlantic. The interview was a candid one, in which Indra revealed the struggles of running a large company while trying to balance a family and the cultural expectations of being an Indian woman.

Marissa (CEO/Founder of Ridiculously Efficient Inc.) and I were pretty shocked by some of the things Indra had to say, so we shared our reactions to a few of Indra's quotes below.

This is about 14 years ago. I was working in the office. I work very late, and we were in the middle of the Quaker Oats acquisition. And I got a call about 9:30 in the night from the existing chairman and CEO at that time. He said, Indra, we're going to announce you as president and put you on the board of directors ... I was overwhelmed, because look at my background and where I came from — to be president of an iconic American company and to be on the board of directors, I thought something special had happened to me.

So rather than stay and work until midnight which I normally would've done because I had so much work to do, I decided to go home and share the good news with my family. I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said, "Mom, I've got great news for you." She said, "let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?"

Marissa: Talk about a letdown. I can definitely identify with the work vs. home power struggle. I like instituting a 10- to 30-minute “buffer” time for working families: nag-free time to let whoever’s just come home from work mentally “unpack” from the day and realign with the energy of the family at home.

Rosemina: That’s a great idea. It takes time to adjust your brain from work life to home life, and giving yourself that buffer will definitely make the transition easier. It’s also about setting expectations. In this case, Indra has set an expectation with her coworkers that she will work until odd hours of the night. At home, she’s set an expectation that she is available for chores before she even settles in. Saying ‘no’ isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary in resetting these kinds of expectations.

I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home. I said, "what time did he get home?" She said "8 o'clock." I said, "Why didn't you ask him to buy the milk?" "He's tired." Okay. We have a couple of help at home, "why didn't you ask them to get the milk?" She said, "I forgot." She said just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back.

I banged it on the counter and I said, "I had great news for you. I've just been told that I'm going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?"

And she said to me, "let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house. You know I've never seen that crown."

Rosemina: This is perhaps the part of the entire interview that bothers me the most. I’m lucky enough to be an Indian-Canadian who has a family that is completely supportive of the idea of me pursuing a career before finding a husband and having kids. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though Indra is as lucky. We both come from a culture in which the husband/father is of the utmost importance, while the mother/wife takes a back seat.

She got home late, wanted to celebrate a new promotion, but instead played, as she puts it, the “dutiful daughter” role and ran an errand at her mother’s request. When she arrived home again, she was berated for expecting her mother to show some semblance of support or happiness for the promotion.

Indra’s cultural responsibilities are getting in the way of having a work-life balance, and of being able to celebrate an achievement with her family. And, based on the above quote, her family doesn’t seem that supportive of her career. This makes me sad for her and the other women who aren’t able to celebrate their achievements simply because they are women. I bet if her husband came home with the same news, the reaction would have been completely different.

Marissa: I share your sadness, Ro. This is a really tricky cultural conflict that I haven’t experienced to the extent that you and Indra have. I was raised as an  overchiever; my parents pointed out how ambitious, successful women are treated in some social and cultural circles, but growing up, I never really got the sense that I’d have to experience that.

Fast forward to 2013, and I saw a really nasty side of my first-generation extended family -- basically, a cousin tried to say that my mom lost her culture when, at 18, she moved to L.A., pursued higher education and built a lucrative, stable career. It was a stinging reminder of this catch-22: many cultures’ traditions don’t historically empower women, but today’s work environment lets women ascend to the top ranks of every facet of business. To express one aspect of life fully means giving up attention to the other.

[Tweet ""I don't think women can have it all. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all." - Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO"]

I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I'm not sure they will say that I've been a good mom. I'm not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms.

Marissa: Wow. This is so sad. No one can doubt that Indra’s trying to make it all work, and that her heart is in the right place.

Rosemina: No, we can’t all have it all, but I don't think anyone can. These problems arise in the pursuit of having it all. It’s great that Indra and her husband have help from their respective families, who can be there for the kids when the parents can’t; this is so important. I agree that as a parent there are many roles to play throughout the day, and it can’t always be a seamless transition. But, I’m sure her daughters appreciate that their mom is a successful CEO; she’s someone they can look up to, even if they don’t have the perfect relationship.

[Tweet ""The biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other." - Indra Nooyi, PepsiCO CEO"]

You know, you have to cope, because you die with guilt. You just die with guilt. My observation, David, is that the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you're rising to middle management your kids need you because they're teenagers, they need you for the teenage years.

Marissa: I’m hopeful that the rise of entrepreneurship around the world -- as well as new attitudes about work-life alignment -- alleviate some of this guilt. No doubt Indra’s not the only working parent just gutted about having to prioritize work over family. Honestly, I think this is one of the big reasons I’ve put off having kids… Before I bring another life into this world, I want my business and life to be in a place where I can be fully immersed in my kid’s upbringing without sacrificing.

Rosemina: I totally agree with Indra on this, the biological clock and career clock are in total and complete conflict with each other. The most significant thing I will ever do in my life will be becoming a mother. As much as I wish now as a good time for that, I know this is the part of my life when I have to put my career first. Once I’ve achieved at least a few of my goals, I can think about starting a family. Conflicting with this is my rising baby fever that gets worse every single time I even look at a picture of an adorable bundle of joy.

When I'm in PepsiCo I travel a lot, and when my kids were tiny, especially my second one, we had strict rules on playing Nintendo. She'd call the office, and she didn't care if I was in China, Japan, India, wherever. She'd call the office, the receptionist would pick up the phone, "Can I speak to my mommy?" Everybody knows if somebody says, 'Can I speak to mommy?' It's my daughter. So she'd say, "Yes, Tyra, what can I do for you?"

"I want to play Nintendo."

So she has a set of questions. "Have you finished your homework?" Etc. I say this because that's what it takes. She goes through the questions and she says, "Okay, you can play Nintendo half an hour." Then she leaves me a message. "Tyra called at 5. This is the sequence of questions I went through. I've given her permission." So it's seamless parenting.

But if you don't do that, I'm serious, if you don't develop mechanisms with your secretaries, with the extended office, with everybody around you, it cannot work. You know, stay at home mothering was a full time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full time jobs rolled into one. How can you do justice to all?

Rosemina: When your receptionist is doing the parenting for you, you’re doing it wrong. To be fair, I’m not a parent or a CEO, but when you are turning to the other people in your office to do the parenting for you, it’s time to reevaluate your life.

Indra could take a cue from Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, who used a spreadsheet to help him budget his time. This would help him allocate his free time and ensure he could, for example, attend his kids’ sporting events. With everything spread out in front of you this way, it’s easy to see how you are spending your time, where you can improve, and how you can make changes for a better work-life balance.

Marissa: I’m with you here, Ro. It’s like the old saying by Jim Rohn -- “You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.” You have to do your own push-ups… and parenting. When your own kid can’t get past the gatekeepers, something’s amiss.

The person who hurts the most through this whole thing is your spouse. There's no question about it. You know, Raj always said, you know what, your list is PepsiCo, PepsiCo, PepsiCo, our two kids, your mom, and then at the bottom of the list is me. There are two ways to look at it. (laughing) You should be happy you're on the list. So don't complain. (laughing) He is on the list. He is very much on the list. But you know, (laughing) sorry, David.

Rosemina: I’m sure this was meant as a joke, but I’d like to point out that Indra’s kids are fourth on her list of priorities, according to her husband Raj.

Marissa: There’s an interesting parallel… the husband feels he’s at the bottom of his wife’s priority list, but according to the mother, Indra’s husband should be higher on Indra’s priority list than Indra herself. I don’t doubt that Raj and Indra are having a tough time connecting. From this brief interview, I didn’t get a sense that they have any routines or habits to stay on the same emotional wavelength.

What do you think of Indra's revelations? Can women have it all? Tell us in the comments below, or on Twitter @efficient.

 

h/t to Business Insider for the transcription

Google Gave This Employee Time Off After Receiving a Letter From His Daughter

google letter

A little girl wanted to spend some more time with her dad, so she wrote a letter to his employer asking them to give him some time off. That employer happens to be Google, and it also happened to be the employee's birthday.

[Tweet "See what happens when your daughter asks your boss for some time off."]

The letter reads:

Dear Google Worker,

Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off. Like he can get a day off on Wednesday. Because daddy only gets a day off on Saturday.

From, Katie

P.S. It is Daddy's BIRTHDAY

P.P.S. It is summer, you know

Awesomely, Google actually replied to Katie and decided to help her out by giving her dad some time off.

google letter

Moral of the story? If you've been working too hard and need some time off, get your kid to write a letter to your boss using crayon. Or, take a note from Katie and remember that it's summer, which makes it the perfect time for you to take a break and spend some extra time with your family.

Being Ethical Requires Energy

stressed worker People of all walks of life and professions have to make a myriad of decisions based on ethics every day. Resisting unethical temptations requires effort and energy. Throughout the day, our energy wanes, and so does our self control. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), people are more likely to behave unethically when their energy is low.

[Tweet "People are more likely to behave unethically when their energy is low."]

HBR conducted two studies to test their theory, which stated that morning people (those who naturally wake up early in the morning) are less ethical later in the day and night owls (those who naturally stay up late at night) are less ethical in the morning. The first study was conducted in morning sessions, in which participants had to self-report on how many matrices they could solved as each would help them earn more money. In this case, the night owls were more likely to behave unethically.

In a second study, HBR held sessions early in the morning and late at night. Each participant took part in a die rolling test in which they had to self report the number rolled, and would get paid based on the number that was reported. Morning people reported getting higher rolls in the late-night session than they did in the morning sessions. Additionally, night owls reported higher rolls in the morning sessions than they did at night.

The below graph displays the how ethical behaviour is affected by energy levels.

Low Energy, Low Ethics Chart

"The important organizational takeaway from these findings is that individual may be more likely to act unethically when they are 'mismatched' –that is, making a decision at the wrong time of day for their own chronotype. Managers should try to learn the chronotype (lark, owl, or in between) of their subordinates and make sure to respect it when deciding how to structure their work," the HBR article reads.

[Tweet "Make your schedule so that you perform your most important work when your energy is naturally high."]

When structuring your day, keep in mind your natural body clock and how that might impact your own behaviour. If you are a morning person, you will have a harder time resisting temptation at night, and a night owl will feel the same in the morning. Pay attention to your energy levels and, especially for solopreneurs and freelancers, create a schedule in which you are performing your most important work when you have high energy levels.

The Top 50 Cities in America With the Happiest Employees

happy employees Glassdoor has just released their second annual Employment Satisfaction Report Card, and the results aren't too surprising. San Jose, CA took the top spot with a 3.5 (out of 5) rating for overall employee satisfaction. The other 50 cities are in Texas, Florida, other parts of California, and Ohio.

[Tweet "San Jose, CA was ranked as the top city in America for employee satisfaction. "]

The findings came from a survey of the top 50 metro areas (based by population) in the US. Ratings included employee satisfaction, number of employers hiring, career opportunities, overall business outlook and compensation/benefits in the last year. All results came from local employee feedback.

San Francisco came in at number two, followed by Washington D.C., Norfolk, Virginia and Salt Lake City. All of the ratings were graded on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest. San Jose received 3.5 in employee satisfaction, while Pittsburgh, 50 on the list, rated 3.1.

Many were surprised to see Norfolk, Virginia so high on the list. Glassdoor's community expert, Scott Dobroski, told Fast Company that their high rating is largely due to their naval base, which is one of the biggest in the country.

“When looking at reviews on Glassdoor over the past year, we see that Norfolk-based U.S. Navy employees give it a 4.0 satisfaction rating,” he said, “while Norfolk-based U.S. Air Force employees give it a 4.2.”

Check out Glassdoor's full Employee Satisfaction Report Card below. Is your city on the list?

glassdoor employee satisfaction report card

What Does it Mean to be the Best?

Bo Eason Imagine sitting in a room filled with 20 people who are the best in the world in their respective industries. What would you ask them? How would they respond? Below you will find some insights that I gained while attending Bo Eason’s “The Best” event. [Tweet "Feel the fear and do it anyway. -Jeff Spencer"]

When asked the question, “What does it take to be the best in the world at what you do” everyone in the room gave slightly different answers. Some of their responses included: staying disciplined, being committed to the small things, wanting it more than your competitors, learning from the best, and simply showing up. All said and done, it came down to one statement made by Jeff Spencer. He said, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” When an individual is capable of performing at a very high level, that is exactly what needs to happen. It is natural to have fear or anxiety when you are competing at that high of a level, but you do it anyway and oust the competition. It ends up being that simple. With the right amount of practice and a great mindset you are equipped to compete at the highest level and run among the best.

When you think of those individuals who are the best in the world at what they do are they the ones sitting on the sidelines talking a big game and thinking of every reason why something can’t happen. No they are not. They are the individuals, the predators who are not afraid to run side by side the best in the industry and make a name for themselves. They are humble because they have nothing to prove to anyone. They are not sideline dwellers. In order to be the best you have to overcome the fear and compete with the best. You cannot simply settle for second place. In order to do this you must have targets. Without setting a target you will miss every time. Below is a 4-step plan to be the Best.

1. Declaration:

In order to be the best, you must declare that you are the best at a given thing. Write out a declaration statement that clearly states your vision in order for it to become a reality. Say no to everything else that is in opposition to that declaration because it will only distract you and slow you down. Build a timeline that fits your vision. Elongate your timeline; nothing great is built overnight. Build the stamina to create your own destiny. Create an intimate relationship with your future self by creating a clear vision of what you have to do now to make a valuable impact in 20 years. Become a “lifer” not a temporary by creating something that can be sustained and does not just satisfy an immediate want or desire. Finally, embody your declaration and share it with the world because once you do people can’t wait to take part in your journey and help make your vision come true.

2. Preparation: [Tweet "You cannot experience comfort while in the pursuit of greatness. -@Runt21"]

Every individual who is great at a certain thing has a sacred relationship to practice. Identify what specific skill sets you need to be the best in the world to make your declaration come true. Fall in love with practicing these things every day so that when it is game time you don’t even have to think about the next play, it just comes naturally. Never have a plan B. If you have a plan B, plan A will never work because you know there is a security blanket to fall back on. You have to accept and expect nothing short of the best. Finally, Bo says, “You cannot experience comfort while in the pursuit of greatness.” Never get comfortable, complacent, or domesticated; prepare for greatness.

3. Acceleration:

In order for the declaration to come true and preparation to pay off, you have to be ready to fully accelerate so that you are ahead of the game and your competition. In order to do this you have to be in great physical condition so that your body can keep up with your mind. Second, access what Bo likes to call your own raw animal instinct. It is okay to be a predator. It is okay for people to fear you. He even recommends studying the movements and behaviors of an animal. Embrace those animal instincts and make them a part of who you are. No one will know what you are doing or what has changed, all they will know is that they can’t look away. The ones that acknowledge their predator instinct actually provide safety to the rest of us. When you acknowledge and unleash this instinct in a healthy competitive way you become an example, not a warning. Finally, master the expression of your vision. When you are clear about your vision and have mastered how to express it, you will surely be unstoppable.

4. Domination: [Tweet "We are born relentless. We are taught to relent. -@attackathletics"] Put together a great team because no one wins alone. This team can be composed of colleagues, friends, and mentors, anyone who pushes you to make your declaration become a reality. This group needs to be the elite of the elite, a delta force if you will. You are a racehorse and in order for people to keep up you cannot afford to surround yourself with anyone or anything less than the best. As Tim Grover says, “We are born relentless, we are taught to relent.” Be relentless. This is the domination phase. This is when you finally reach greatness, when you are finally “The BEST.”

Bo Eason is a former NFL-er, and current actor and playwright. He is a story coach who teaches professionals all over the world how to craft their personal stories and become effective, persuasive communicators. You can lean more about his work here

Your Productivity Doesn't Have to Suffer During the 2014 World Cup

world cup productivity The FIFA World Cup is officially underway and, for a lot of people around the world, soccer is going to be everyone's main focus for the next month.The productivity lost during this time will be felt around the globe, but it doesn't have to be that way. While many studies have shown that there are going to be major productivity declines during the World Cup, there are many ways employers can embrace the spirit of the games to boost productivity and morale in the long run.

In the Middle East, where soccer matches will be aired late into the night and in the early morning hours, employees are expected to call in sick to work due to late night game-watching sessions. According to a survey from Gulf Talent, half of the employees in the UAE will be staying up late to watch matches, and 10 percent admit that they will come in late to work to catch up on sleep.

According to a UK survey by employment law specialists ELAS, this year's World Cup will cost Britain $6.7 billion in lost productivity. Nearly half of those surveyed said they would be taking time off in the next month of watch games.

Instead of trying to resist the inevitable productivity decline, embrace the spirit of the sport like many Latin American countries are doing. According to a survey from Mercer, a large majority of employers in Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Mexico will be allowing employees to cheer on their national teams by watching their games.

Here are a few ways to use the World Cup to boost productivity and morale in the long run:

Offer Flex Time

This is a great opportunity for your company to experiment with flexible schedules. People will find a way to watch their favorite teams, so you might has well give them the option to do so in the comfort of their own homes. Look for a few signs to see if the flexible schedules are working: how well is the team working together, are telecommuting employees able to stick to deadlines, and is everyone able to maintain a high quality of work? It's likely that employees will be grateful for the new perk, which will show in their work.

Keep a Scoreboard 

Big sports fans will be spending a lot of time checking game scores, and the standings of their favorite teams. Assign one person to keep a scoreboard, which should also include the scores of on-going games. That way, employees don't feel they have to keep checking the score online, which can become a huge distraction and time-suck.

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em! 

Embrace the spirit of the World Cup at the office. Encourage employees to wear their jerseys to the office and let everyone watch games on communal televisions. Give everyone one afternoon off every week, go out for after-work drinks at a sports bar, and host a World Cup themed party. Have your own World Cup office bracket, which has actually shown to be great for team building. Getting everyone involved and bringing in a sense of fun to the office is sure to boost morale.

World Cup Themed Incentive Program

Unfortunately, work can't just stop for the next month. To ensure every deadline is met and nothing is overlooked, introduce an incentive program. Design it to look like an office pool, or hand out extra perks to reward those who have performed well. Offer afternoons off, use of the break room/private office to watch certain matches, or a free jersey/scarf/hoodie for the team of their choice. Tap into the competitive spirit of the World Cup and use this to encourage employees to produce great work.