Monthly Archives: June 2013

6 Success Secrets I Learned from TV Sitcoms

By Gail Z. Martin

Remember sitcoms? Situation comedies were the shows before “reality TV” took over.  A few still remain, but nothing like the heyday of the 1970s and 1980s.

So what did I learn from spending my formative years with the Bradys, the Cunninghams, the Partridges, the Huxtables, the Romanos, the Bunkers, the Clampetts and all the other TV families who became an indelible part of my memories?  As it turns out, quite a bit!

1.  “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” Can’t you hear Jan Brady’s howl of frustration over her older, more popular, prettier sister?  How many times have we looked at another business that seems to be ahead of us, has more followers on Twitter or more likes on Facebook, or that got a plum bit of PR and turned green with envy?  Jan had to learn the hard way that being yourself is essential.  Learn from other successful companies, but realize that you can’t just copy what other people do, you have to adapt it to be unique for you.

2. “Come on, get happy!” Six singing kids and their musical mother set out in a psychedelic school bus to rock the world.  I loved the Partridge Family, and not just because of David Cassidy.  It’s the show that taught me why you need an agent (although fortunately, both of mine are much better than Reuben Kincaide), and showed me that no matter how big and crazy your dream is, you can find a way to make it happen.

3. Quit before you jump the shark.  Remember Fonzie from Happy Days?  He was a bigger than life character who always seemed to have everything under control.  In one episode, he did a daring motorcycle jump over a shark tank, a la Evil Knievel, stretching any semblance of believability.  Life lesson—go big, but keep it real.

4.  Don’t let “swimmin’ pools and movie stars” change who you are.  Jed Clampett and his clan struck it rich with “black gold, Texas tea—oil, that is” and moved to Beverly Hills, long before the Fresh Prince or the 90210 gang.  They were always out of step with the world around them, but they never lost their integrity, core values, or identity.  So make it big—but don’t lose who you are or forget where you came from.

5. Working moms can be great moms.  Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show, Ann Romano from One Day at a Time, Shirley Partridge and others blazed a trail for the kids who watched their weekly exploits.  Watching them, we saw a role model for a new kind of future, and cheered when they didn’t let obstacles get in their way. The moral? Don’t let other people’s restrictions limit your opportunities.

6. Value the memories, but change with the times.  “Those were the days,” sang the theme song to All in the Family.  We watched Archie Bunker wrestle with changing times, changing roles, and a culture that didn’t look like the world in which he grew up.  As Archie struggled to find his place, we went along for the ride. It was one of the first sitcoms to confront serious issues like cancer and racism, and by bringing tough subjects into our living rooms, we learned and grew along with Archie.  What I learned? Change is part of life, and you can’t hang on to the way things were. And when you get past the fear, new things can be wonderful.

What did you learn from the shows you watched as a kid, and how did it influence you?  I’d love to know. Want to continue the conversation and share your thoughts and questions? Connect with me on Twitter @GailMartinPR!


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Save Yourself $50 a Day–With Your Phone

By Gail Z. Martin

If you could get one more productive hour per day, what would it be worth to you?  Eighty cents a minute, or nearly $50 an hour, based on an annual salary of $100,000.

Now think about getting that extra productive hour EVERY day, and that $50 becomes big money very quickly.

Where does the extra time come from?  You’ve still got 24 hours in your day—but with the right apps on your mobile phone and tablet computer, you can turn the minutes you would otherwise be wasting—waiting for an appointment, for a plane, for your kids, for a meeting—into productive time, even billable hours.

Sound good?  It’s easier than you think.

Just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean your productivity can come to a standstill.  While you can’t have your laptop with you everywhere you go, smart phones and tablet PCs make it possible to do all kinds of tasks that once required a full office setup.

Many of the Cloud-based programs discussed earlier in the book have smart phone and tablet PC apps so that you can utilize those same programs when you’re not at your desktop.  In addition, many social media sites also have mobile apps, making it possible for you to keep working your online marketing strategy when you’re on the go.  In addition, other apps just make it easier to have the tools you need at your fingertips, conveniently stored inside your mobile device.

Mobile versions connect with the Cloud

Need something from your desktop when you’re in the car?  GoToMyPC has a mobile app to make it easy for you to retrieve whatever you need.  Likewise, mobile devices with Internet access can connect with your Cloud-based storage programs such as, Dropbox and Google Docs so that you don’t need to wait until you are in your hotel room or at a temporary office to get the information you want.

Opening, reading or editing PDF files can pose a problem when you’re away from your fully-loaded desktop computer.  If your work entails being able to review PDF documents, consider PDF Reader.  This app lets you open PDFs from your iPhone as well as make editing changes such as strike-outs, highlights or underlines and save your edited file.

Use PDF Converter or PDF-it if you want to save an Office file into PDF format.  PDF Expert bundles the reading and editing capabilities together, along with the ability to sign your own signature to PDF documents and fill out PDF forms.  If you want to share your PDF-based presentation, consider PDF Presenter (for iPad), which offers easy-to-use fingertip controls to flip through your slides.

For those who live or die by delivery schedules, you can track your FedEx parcels with the FedEx Mobile app.  Breathlessly awaiting a snail mail delivery?  USPS Mobile not only lets you track and confirm package delivery, it also includes a handy way to find your nearest post office, look up ZIP Codes, schedule a pick-up, scan labels or calculate shipping prices.  Not to be outdone, the UPS Mobile app lets you do most of the same tasks that the USPS app permits, only with a UPS focus.

Social media apps make it easy to maximize “power surges”

Many business people lament that they “don’t have time” for social media.  Yet a growing number of customers have made it clear that they prefer to interact with businesses via social media, so you are notable by your absence if you aren’t part of the online conversation.

Here’s another way to think about the social media/time dilemma.  Do you ever have short periods of downtime, such as arriving early for an appointment, waiting in an airport, or cooling your heels awaiting your child’s dismissal from soccer practice?  If so, mobile apps make it possible for you to tackle your social media outreach in strategic “power surges”.

First, make sure you’ve loaded the mobile apps for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to your smart phone or tablet PC.  Once you’ve got the apps loaded, sign in to your accounts so that they will automatically connect you in the future.  Now you’re ready to hop online whenever you have a few extra minutes and leverage the power of social media.

Connectivity is only part of the story, however.  You need to have a plan for what you’ll do after you connect.  As I discuss in my book 30 Days to Social Media Success, you’ll get the most impact for your effort if you create a list of at least 30 short, strategically focused actions that you can take in 15 – 30 minutes. You can keep your list on a note-taking app on your mobile device.  If you’re pressed for time, use 10- or 15-minute “power surges” to get the same amount of work done in short bursts.  Here are some ideas:

  • Friend two or three new people through your personal profile and suggest they “like” your business fan page
  • Connect with two to four people who already “like” your fan page to start up a conversation
  • Comment on posts or reply to comments on your pages
  • Send a couple of tweets, upload a photo or link to an article that would be of interest to your audience
  • Use your smart phone video camera to record a short tip and upload it to YouTube.
  • Check in with at least two of your LinkedIn connections—congratulate them on recent career news, introduce them to some of your other connections, or ask how the family is doing.
  • Make a LinkedIn recommendation or ask for a referral.
  • Check in with your Facebook or LinkedIn groups to comment on a current topic, offer an answer to a question, or help out a fellow-group member.
  • Reply to a direct message (DM) on Twitter, retweet a good tweet from someone you follow, or do an @name public reply to a comment of interest to your followers.

Social media is designed for short attention spans, so it’s perfect for you to jump on and jump off when you’re on the go and your time is limited.  You may find that accessing social media through your mobile devices makes your wait time fly and actually makes you look forward to connecting online!

Your on-the-road toolbox

You never know what might come up when you’re away from the office.  Here’s a rundown of some other helpful mobile app tools to keep your workday humming along.

  • MyToolbox turns your smart phone into a setsquare, bubble level and caliper—just in case you have a handyman moment when you’re on the go.
  • MultiMeasures gives you a timer, stopwatch, ruler, plumb bob, protractor—even a seismometer—all in your smart phone.
  • DocumentsToGo lets you access, edit and save your Microsoft Word documents (including formatting) as well as sync to your desktop.
  • Want to keep tabs on your money?  Take a look at consolidated tracking apps like Rudder, Mint, Wesabe or Quicken Online, which can track your investment and bank account balances, help you budget and alert you to overdraft risk.
  • Need a better way to scan cards, receipts, or other documents?  CamScanner converts your smart phone to a scanner.
  • If you’re on the road and looking for the best local deal on gas, try the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest fill-up in your neighborhood.
  • Most road warriors accumulate lots of restaurant, hotel and other frequent shopper cards.  Who has room in the carry-on bag for all that?  CardStar stores all of your loyalty cards on your smart phone so that you get your discounts without bulking up your wallet.

Your goal is to find the apps and Web sites that help you be as comfortable and productive as possible when you’re away from the office.  Explore, experiment and enjoy!

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Martin.  Order this book at

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