Saturday, June 24, 2017

Follow these meeting tips and others will thank you (guide+checklist) by Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy

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Meetings can be a time suck. Though they're needed, the average meeting results in poor results. I've worked at progressive and mindful organisations where managers still wasted thousands of dollars putting people together for hours.
Nevertheless, I'm invited to meaningless meetings way too often. If you're as tired as I am of useless meetings, here are some ways to prepare for a more effective meeting next time.  

1. Prepare Meeting Agenda

Skipping this step is tempting. There is always a feeling that you can just walk into the room and give a speech that will mobilise and engage all participants. 
However, it doesn’t work this way.
You need to plan before you act. Conversations tend to derail very quickly. The only way to stick to the point is to have an agenda.
If a meeting is not worth writing an agenda – then it is not important enough to waste time on.
Besides the main topic you need to discuss, there are always some additional points in an agenda.
It is like a scope creep.
You need to identify everything that will be talked about. They will take up time. For example, an introduction of new attendees, voting for the best idea, assigning action items, etc.

2. Set a Time Limit

A meeting should be strictly time-boxed, otherwise, it will take as much time as possible. Always keep in mind the Parkinson’s law: it should start and end at the scheduled time.
I would suggest you never delay the start of a meeting. By delaying a meeting, you support latecomers. On the other hand, those who always come on time are penalised by waiting.
What's the real story?
Keep in mind that some people might have other meetings scheduled. By finishing your meeting later, you can put them into troubles. They will have to either leave your meeting and miss the conclusions, which is the most important part, or they will have to come late for their next meeting.
The worst thing happens when a delay of one meeting creates a cascading delay for all meetings for the day.

3. Set the Purpose For Each Meeting

Each meeting should have a goal, whether it's to brainstorm a list of ideas, make a decision or sync up the status of a project. 
The goal should be whatever it is that you need to achieve within allocated time. If you don’t have a purpose clearly defined, then any outcome will suit you. Why waste your time?
When your time is up, and you do not reach the purpose – the meeting is failed. Time is wasted.

4. Choose Participants Wisely

There is a limit of persons for a meeting. Beyond that number, any meeting is a waste of time.
Depending on the purpose of a meeting the number varies. I would say 7-10 people for a meeting is a maximum.
The number may be higher for meetings where you just need to transfer some information. Sure, there may be many stakeholders for your project, but it doesn’t mean that you need to invite them simply because they are on the list.
The main idea is to choose people who can add value to the meeting or decision.
For most of the cases, it is unwise to call management, customer or sponsor for brainstorming meetings, for example.
Sometimes they do want to participate and contribute. But in most cases, they are interested in refined information. You should use their time for decision making based on the options you generated before.
That is why it is so important to define a purpose for a meeting. And it is best when there is only one goal.

5. Define Responsibility and Your Expectation for Each Participant

Have you ever wondered how a person can decline an invitation for a meeting? It is easy when you are a boss and too busy. Then you just do not show up. What about the peers?
You can check it yourself.
Take a look at last ten meetings you were invited to. Hopefully, there is an agenda there. But I can bet that there is at least one meeting you can’t tell why you had to participate.
And definitely, there was uncertainty on your side.
Were you invited just because you are on the email list, or you are a part of the team? Or do they expect some expertise from your side?
Whenever you call someone to your meeting, explicitly state your expectations. What do you want from a person? Why should he join a meeting?
If you are not telling them your expectations you are just bossing. You order them to comply. Without questioning you.
Always give them a choice to quit.
If they decide not to come to your meeting. If they don’t think they can help. If they don’t want to help you. If they don’t want even to try. They will be of no use for you when forced into your meeting.
Buy their support. Let THEM choose to help you.
David Grady has a lot to say on this point.

6. Provide All Relevant Information Before a Meeting

So you want to discuss something important. Or you seek for expertise. In any case, provide any background information beforehand. Give enough time to analyse any documentation, ideas, your meeting agenda and your expectations.
The purpose of a meeting is to sync up, to brainstorm, or to make a decision. Do not waste time on anything that can be done personally. Reading documents out loud during meetings is unprofessional. Everyone can read.
You must state your expectations. You expect them you come prepared for a meeting. You expect to produce solutions not describe a problem.

7. Schedule Meetings Beforehand

How does it feel when someone invites you to an hour-long meeting with a five minutes notice? And you were about to have lunch? Bad.
Don’t do it.
I know there are sometimes “urgent” meetings. But I don’t believe in them. They introduce a lot of stress and rarely deliver any value. These are not effective team meetings.
If you need to mobilize your team set up a short meeting, where you introduce the problem. Then plan consequent meetings to brainstorm the solutions. After people had time to think it through.

8. Come on Time

Does this even have to be a separate point? I’m afraid, it does.
Come on time. Start a meeting on time. Finish a meeting on time. That is a framework of an effective team meeting.

9. Lead the meeting, Stick To Agenda and Timeline

Despite all your previous efforts, it will be a mess unless you lead and control the meeting.
It takes an exceptional level of professionalism, culture and ethics to respect everyone’s time. I don’t think you can demand it. Like anything related to the “respect”, you have to earn it. So do not assume that everyone will behave to your standard. Be ready to lead.
What does it mean?
You need to spend every minute of a meeting purposefully. Take the lead and introduce newcomers. If everyone is familiar with each other, skip it. Give an honest “Thank you for coming” and get to the point.
Respect their time.
Quickly remind the agenda and the purpose of the meeting. State what you expect to be a successful outcome. It should take less than a minute. Otherwise, you planned too much to discuss.
Now keep to the agenda.
Drag the conversation back to the point. Track time you allocated for each point of the agenda.
When you lead a meeting, it takes some courage to keep everyone focused. It is your meeting, your plan. You need to be confident enough to restrain superiors and peers. Just be respectful. If they have some cool idea, propose them to discuss it after the meeting.
Always keep in mind that you need some time at the end of a meeting. It is crucial. See next point.
But what if time runs out. And your have not achieved meeting goals? Finish this one in time and schedule another one. If it happens this way, you underestimated the problem. Or you discover something new and important.
Plan again, then act.

10. Assign Deliverables and Deadlines

Even if the purpose of your meeting is a single decision, there is delivery. It is meeting notes. Someone have to inform others about the decision and log it.
In most cases, your meetings will end up with next steps to keep wheels turning – the action items.
It is best when all action items produce deliverables. Just like everything in project management. You need results.
Therefore, describe deliverables (next meeting, a report, a plan, etc.), assign one responsible person for each one, set and agreed upon the deadlines. Document it in the meeting notes.
Michael Hyatt has a good format for action items.

11. Document and Publish Meeting Notes

If you are leading the meeting, it is OK to delegate writing meeting notes to someone else. State one responsible person who must do that.
Nevertheless, it is your responsibility to deliver the meeting notes.
Always invite others to add or correct your meeting notes. You may miss something. Others may have understood it differently. It is a good way to avoid miscommunication. Just let everyone comfortable to correct you.


I like the idea of a monetary value of a decision made at a meeting.
It is simple.
In fact, it is a timer that shows the cost of a meeting in dollars. Calculations are easy. You need to know hourly rates of all participant and multiply them by the hours you spent to produce a decision. When a meeting is over, you will see how much a decision costs.
Do the exercise several times. You will find that your team meetings are golden. It is to say nothing about demotivation and disengagement effect. I bet you will want to have effective meetings after that.

8 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Before 8 AM by Dr. Travis Bradberry

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Starbucks continues to grow relentlessly, with CEO Howard Schultz planning to open 500 new stores a year over the next five years. Much of this growth will happen in China, where Schulz is undeterred by the recent economic slowdown.
While many factors contribute to Starbucks’ immunity to economic trends, most are driven by Schultz. Starbucks’ massive size hasn’t stopped him from realizing his vision of creating a company that’s about much more than making money selling coffee; Schultz is committed to selling an experience and a lifestyle, both of which are inspired by a trip to Italy as a child, where he was drawn to the cafe scene. 
Schultz is fiercely loyal to his values. When asked how he balances his values with strategic thinking, he said,
"Unfortunately, we live in a sea of mediocrity in all walks of life. We live amid a fracturing of civility. Everywhere we go as consumers, we’re getting people who don’t want to reach into our hearts or know who we are; they want to reach into our wallets and get some money. The only way we can succeed and sustain growth is linked to the basic elements of one cup of coffee, one customer, and one barista at a time." 
Schultz views company strategy and his personal values as one and the same. To this end, he has put massive amounts of money into healthcare for Starbucks’ employees (even those who are part time), into free college education for all employees, and into campaigning for human rights.
Schultz's loyalty to his personal values starts every morning at 4:30 a.m. He rises early to make time for his employees, his family, and himself. He starts his morning by sending motivational e-mails to his employees, and then he exercises by taking his dogs for a walk, before disconnecting from technology to eat breakfast and drink French Press coffee with his wife.
Few of us have hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in our values, but we can all develop the same discipline that Schultz demonstrates each morning—and it isn’t just a morning thing; it pays dividends all day long. Research shows that early risers are more proactive than night owls, they’re more agreeable and conscientious, and they’re happier than people who sleep in.
There are many ways to utilize the early morning hours effectively, but some of the best ideas come from ultra-successful people like Schultz. Here are eight of my favorites.
Drink lemon water. Drinking lemon water as soon as you wake up spikes your energy levels physically and mentally. By improving nutrient absorption in your stomach, it gives you a steady, natural energy buzz that lasts the length of the day. You need to drink it first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) to ensure full absorption. You should also wait 15–30 minutes after drinking it before eating (perfect time to squeeze in some exercise). Lemons are chock full of nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. If you weigh less than 150 pounds, drink the juice of half a lemon (a full lemon if you’re over 150 pounds). Don’t drink the juice without water because it’s hard on your teeth.
Exercise. It’s not just Schultz who exercises early in the morning; Richard Branson, Tim Cook, and Disney’s Bob Iger all wake up well before 6:00 a.m. to get their bodies moving. While their ungodly wake-up hours and exercise routines may seem crazy, research supports the extra effort. A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more competent socially, academically, and athletically. A second study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol found that people who exercised daily had more energy and a more positive outlook, which are both critical for getting things done. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Exercising first thing in the morning ensures that you’ll have the time for it, and it improves your self-control and energy levels over the course of the entire day.
Disconnect. While Schultz starts his day with a motivational e-mail to his employees, after this, he disconnects and dedicates his time to exercise and family. When you wake up and dive straight into e-mails, texts, and Facebook, you are far more likely to lose focus, and your morning succumbs to the wants and needs of other people. It’s much healthier to take those precious first moments of the day to do something relaxing, which sets a calm, positive tone for your day.
Eat a healthy breakfast. Eating anything at all for breakfast puts you ahead of a lot of people. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese, they have more stable blood-sugar levels, and they tend to be less hungry over the course of the day. And these are just the statistics for people who eat any breakfast. When you eat a healthy breakfast, the doors to a productive day swing wide open. A healthy breakfast gives you energy, improves your short-term memory, and helps you to concentrate more intensely and for longer periods.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation has become increasingly popular among highly successful CEOs. Its growth in the business world is largely due to the huge dividends it pays in productivity and overall well-being. Research shows that mindfulness fights off stress by reversing the fight-or-flight response, improves your ability to focus, boosts creativity, and increases your emotional intelligence. 
Set goals for the day. Benjamin Franklin was obsessive about planning his days. Each morning, he would wake up at 4:00 a.m. and meticulously piece together a schedule. There’s a clear message to take from Franklin’s habit: prudent goal setting pays dividends. When you plan out your day as carefully as possible, your chances of successfully accomplishing your goals skyrocket. I like to set my daily goals after my mindfulness practice, because the added calm and clarity help me to set effective, specific goals.
Make certain your goals are realistic. There’s no point in setting goals if they aren’t realistic. Take the time to ensure that your schedule for the day is doable by assigning times to your to-do list. A good rule of thumb is to make your day as top heavy as possible. Think about the things that have the ability to advance your career, no matter how daunting the tasks, and schedule them first. When you complete difficult tasks first, you carry positive energy and a feeling of accomplishment into the rest of your day.
Vague goals such as “I want to finish writing my article” are counter-productive, because they fail to include the “how” of things. The same goal re-phrased in a more functional way would read something like this: “I am going to finish my article by writing each of the three sections, spending no more than an hour on each section.” Now, you have more than simply something you want to achieve—you have a way to achieve it.
Finally, say no. No is a powerful word, which will protect your precious mornings. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments, and your morning time is an important commitment. Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco showed that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression.

Bringing It All Together

Developing a successful morning routine is essential. While the above strategies are tried and true, you should build upon them with other activities that work for you.
What are some other morning strategies that work for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

How To Get A Raise Without Asking For One by Vartika Kashyap

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Everyone wants to work hard to get a bigger paycheck, although this may not be the only reason of doing so. But many employees think that if they work hard they deserve an increase in salary.

Still, you may be doing everything that looks right on the paper - you are never late with the deadlines, your projects are seldom unsuccessful and you are always good to your boss - but promotion and pay raise is never a question that your boss thinks that he should discuss with you.
So many of us want to ask for a pay raise, but are not sure if we will get one. On the top of this it’s hard for us to keep the emotional feelings of one’s merit, self-worth, likability and the fear of rejection, that come inherent with this thought, under a check. 
But there is way out. The way out begins by first understanding why you are not getting promoted. Most of the times employees think of promotion as meeting the expectations of their boss. But this is wrong. Meeting them is just an essential condition to being called as someone who meets the minimum requirements. To stand apart you need to put in extra effort.
You need to achieve a level where your organization will consider twice before thinking of having someone else do the job for them. You have to exceed their expectations and perform exceptionally well, making them think of you as one of the best hires ever. Lets see how you can do that: 

Be Proactive

Many employees take the leadership of their boss for granted. They wait for their boss to ask something from them, to do their job. They are not active collaborators. They don't come up with ideas of their own. They don't spend time after office thinking about something extra that can be game changing.
A better approach would be to anticipate what their boss wants. Instead of doing what they are told they should have a proactive attitude to work. If you already know what your boss needs and have done the preparations in advance, it will be easy for your boss to know that he or she has hired the right guy.

Be A Risk Taker

Ability to take risks comes inherent with the trait of leadership. And if you can show your boss that you are a leader than there is nothing better. Taking risks begins with pitching your boss something and hoping that he or she would like it.
If you don’t pitch yourself, your boss will only think that you expect people to lead you. It doesn’t matter if your idea will work or not. Many great leaders failed a number of times before coming up with something big. What matters is how you improve your ability and start taking good risks.

Improve Your Ability to Handle Pressure

Remember that in life concepts like money, talent, self-worth, and intelligence are all a notion dependent on time. Everything is measured in value with respect to time. In this sense only time is the thing that has true value.
Good leaders know this and stress the importance of handling time pressure. They think of it as one of the biggest challenges of life. If you ever get a chance to showcase this one ability to your boss, then it will leave a lasting impression on him.

Build Relations With Other Departments

No department works fully independent and different departments can sometime need each other’s help. To show your boss that you are a worthy employee you need to build relationships throughout the company. So if work gets stuck because of departmental woes your boss knows whom to call.
Remember that networking is of great help in pushing through the slush and get the work done on time. If you have great relations your boss will see you as a worthy asset that he or she can bank upon.

Don't Inflate Your Results

To build the trust of your boss it's necessary to take the long road to success. Inflating results to get short term wins can give the promotion that you need. But sooner or later you will be made responsible for your mistakes and every time you won't be able to inflate results.

Don’t Obsess

Some employees start obsessing over why they are treated unfairly. They take it into their head and start blaming others for their own mistakes. They only downgrade themselves in doing so.
These people should obsess over getting results rather than the factors which are not under their control. You can do this by focusing on how to get superb results whether you are treated fairly or not. Do your job well, even if you have to greet people standing by the door all day.
Finally, remember that most people fail to add an extra value to what they were hired for in the beginning or what the management expects them to deliver at each stage. And this is the reason they are not promoted or considered for promotion. Bosses and managers want to know whether they are able to get great results on the investment they made and what they can expect if they invest in you again.