Category Archives: Strategy

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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Filed under Business Planning, Gail Z. Martin, Strategy

Social Media Becomes a Local Resource

By Gail Z. Martin

Google AdWords offers specialized services to target customers within a 20-mile radius from your business. AdWords permits you to add or exclude areas, and can integrate your targeted AdWords campaign with text messaging.

Facebook can serve as a showcase for your community activity. When you host an event that benefits a local charity or sponsor a local sporting team, promote before, during and after the event with updates, photos, Web video and testimonials. Encourage attendees to become part of an ongoing conversation. Many companies successfully use their Facebook page as an instantly updateable second Web site to let their community know what’s going on and to share information and updates.

Twitter has been used by local charities to mobilize volunteers for projects or to alert donors to immediate needs. Animal rescue groups and humane societies have used Twitter to match shelter animals with new homes. Schools have demonstrated Twitter’s ability to alert parents to unplanned closings or to request badly needed supplies or last-minute parent volunteers. Businesses tweet about their upcoming live entertainment, dinner specials, or daily discounts.

Twitter can also help you promote upcoming local events, share photos and video via links, and give your online press releases a broader readership as you tweet news and provide links to coverage you’ve received in local online publications. Your blog can also be an effective part of your online marketing program by sharing the story behind your achievements or by providing deeper insight into what’s happening with your business, which deals and events are coming up, or the news of your industry as it impacts local customers.

Foursquare is an intensely local social media application that makes going about your business or going out for the evening a shared experience treasure hunt. Foursquare users use the site and text messaging to share their current location as they patronize businesses, retailers, entertainment venues. They can become the “mayor” of frequently-visited sites, and can gather their friends to join them on a spur-of-the-moment basis. Foursquare rewards users who are out and about in their local area—and the local companies they frequent benefit as well.

Groupon subscribers can sign up to get special online deals from local businesses. Subscribers indicate their local area and their willingness to receive emails and social media alerts to short-lived discounts from local merchants. Companies sign up to provide limited-time special deals that are only available via Groupon. In some cases, deals are only available if a specified number of people show up to claim it. Groupon makes bargain hunting fun and social while retaining an intensely local flair.

LivingSocial is another site that offers a daily deal from local businesses with up to 90% off the regular price. Once a subscriber buys the daily deal, he/she has the opportunity to forward the deal to friends, and if one of those friends also buys, the original customer gets the deal item for free. It’s a fun way to publicize specials while encouraging customers to tell their friends about your company.

Yelp, and Citysearch are other sites that capitalize on the concept of “local.”  Not only can they help others to find your company more easily (both online and in person), many of these new locally-oriented sites also encourage customers to rate their recent experience.  Don’t let that scare you off.  If you provide good service and a good product, you have reason to expect most of your ratings to be positive.  Those that aren’t positive provide valuable feedback for you to make improvements, and a highly visible arena in which to demonstrate your great customer service to woo back a less-than-thrilled former customer.

Your neighbors, customers and prospects are online, and they respond to businesses that reach them where they spend their time. Customers also like getting relevant messages and discounts when they’re on the move. Create your own highly local online PR and marketing strategy and reap the benefits!

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Filed under Business Planning, Gail Z. Martin, Strategy

Avoiding Burn-Out

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

We’ve all all had those days when there’s a small voice in the back of our heads that says, “Here’s a quarter, please go call someone who cares.” At that moment you get it that unconditional positive regard doesn’t live in your chair anymore. Here’s some tips to help recover your energy, your love of your work, and your own unconditional positive regard – for yourself.

Tip #1: Give your attention to your own physical well-being. Stretch between clients, jog in place. Try the Cat Response. You know, when the cat gets up from her chair where she’s been for a while, the first thing she does is yawn, stretch, not in any particular way, although there is a yoga stretch is called cat stretch and downward dog. You sit still for 6-8 hours a day, discover ways to move that just feels good.

Tip #2: Give your attention to your own emotional well-being. You’ve spent your day listening. A few minutes at the end of your day to practice mindfulness can be very powerful. Breathing to quiet your mind and your internal emotional cocktail. Take the names of each person you saw today, or any other person that comes to mind. In your imagination, see yourself standing near a brook. Write the name of that person on a leaf, if you have a prayer practice, invite the Divine to bless that particular person/problem, and with that blessing, release the leaf onto the water, and watch it float downstream. Continue with each person until all that concerns you has been released, just for now.

Tip #3: Give your attention to your own mental well-being. Many of us have a job that engages our mental acuity constantly. The tip here is to find things that suit you that either quiet that mental chatter, like a mindfullness, or puts it into a hypnotic state, like TV, computer games. Some folks also find release in hobby type experiences that bring them into flow, that state where time stops and the moment consumes your attention. I’ve inserted a 15-20 minutes island in my day when I first get home, before preparing my dinner when I just sit with a glass of  wonderful cup of tea and watch the clouds go by – my own puppy-on-the-couch moment when I intentionally accomplish nothing, think about nothing, solve nothing.

Tip #4: Give your attention to your own spiritual well-being.  If you have a religious or spiritual practice, make sure that daily (2-5 minutes, even as you fall asleep) you turn your attention toward that focus.  If you don’t have any particular practice, use a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day to do something that brings your focus outside of your inner world – enjoy a moment in nature, connect with a pet, close your eyes and list the parts of your day you are particularly grateful for, enjoy music.  Even just focusing on your breath can quiet the monkey mind and give you some peace.

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Filed under Balance, Inner Coach, Sheryl Eldene, Strategy

Got a Backbone?

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

Remember those cute minnows swirling around Gail’s feet yesterday? They have intact backbones and really aren’t succeeding. Neither are the jellyfish stranded on the sand in the outgoing tide. Many people understand that BACKBONE, will, drive, Hard Work and discipline are critical to success.

As we look at obstacles to business success, consider the obstacle of no WISHBONE – no time to set vision, create focus and intention. Yes, we talk about annually an quarterly stepping back to create vision and specific strategies, but have you considered bringiing that practice into the month, the week, the day, or even the next hour?  Setting vision for the day or the hour, is more like setting your intention for this day to be _______(productive, nurturing, energized, giving, fulfilling – fill in the blank) and holding that intention as you take on your action steps for that day.

What I see happening so often, is sitting down at my desk, with a carefully prepared list of action steps that may or may not match my strategy, then working very HARD with all my drive, will, discipline until my neck hurts, I’m cranky and I know, from my work on professional burn-out, that I’m on my way down that path, fighting the tide and finally ending up as food for the big players. [OK, that’s a little dramatice, but you get the point].

To bring joy, success, as well as long term contribution in my field, I engage both bones. Here’s my check list:

  • Is what I’m about to do consistent with my intention for the day?
  • Is what I’m about to do consistent with my strategy for the quarter?
  • Do I have the energy to do this with my full attention and my full heart?
  • Can I do this from a place of power and energy, or from a place of just surviving?

No to any one of these questions may suggest that I’m driving and striving, just like those little minnows and maybe I’ll still be fighting the ocean when the day is done.  As you look at what obstacles may be limiting your success, consider the marriage of both your will and your self-discipline (BACKBONE) with your visioning, your intentions, and your heart (WISHBONE). This is the essence of linking the Law of Attraction to the Law of Action – and that marriage real Olympic Gold.

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Filed under Business Planning, Dreams, Intentions, Sheryl Eldene, Strategy, Uncategorized

There are No Loopholes in Intention

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

One of the Laws of Attraction that I attend to is the awareness that wherever I put my attention, I’m also placing my energy and thereby, my power. I also know that any words that I speak are filled with my energy and become powerful in my life. Since I know there are are no loopholes, no way around this law, I was shocked to hear what came out of my own mouth this morning as I looked at the scales – which haven’t moved in a month or so – and said “I just can’t lose this weight, what’s wrong with me, anyway”.

Based on this Law of Attraction, I just set in motion a self fulfilling prophecy.


I’m also the strengths based coach, so taking energy to discover what is wrong with me, might not be the best use of my focus. Here are my notes-to-self that I thought you might appreciate, too:

  1. What has actually improved over the last month that represents my real priority?
  2. What strengths do I have that will support my intention to be heathly and smaller?
  3. Assuming, I’ve been living On Purpose, what has the purpose of the past month been?
  4. What is the intention for this month?
  5. What is the one thing I desire independence from and what is the one dream I desire to celebrate at the end of July?

OK, world, here are my answers:

  1. What has improved? I’ve added walking regularly to my habits and am beginning to feel more energy.
  2. What are my strengths? My strength this month is my loyalty to the health of my puppy, who needs to walk every day.
  3. My true purpose? My true purpose for this last month has been to adapt to Sammy, and to survive getting up a couple times in the night to let him visit his favorite puppy-pee places.
  4. My intention for this month is to keep my focus on my business, to continue healthy walks, to find a way to be alpha dog while protecting the puppyhood of His Littleness.
  5. I want independence from a preconceived idea of how my body wants to return to health and vitality and I want to celebrate comfortably zipping up my favorite shorts.

As we move into a new month, and the third quarter of the year, remember, there are no loopholes in the link between your intentions and your results.  Thoughts and words are things – chose the good ones.

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Filed under Business Planning, Dreams, Intentions, Motivation, Sheryl Eldene, Strategy

Seasons and Cycles

By Gail Z. Martin

The world around us is a place of seasons and cycles.  Spring, summer, fall and winter come with reassuring regularity.  The moon moves through its phases month after month.  Tides rise and fall with predictability.  We plan our lives according to the seasons and cycles around us.

Business also has cycles.  Every industry has its own variation of a sales cycle or a  product lifecycle.  Some businesses, such as those in the travel and tourism industry, may be very attuned to the physical seasons.  Ski in the winter, go to the beach in the summer.  Or, a business may be governed by more arbitrary cycles.  Accountants are busy before April 15.  Retailers gear up for back-to-school and the holiday rush.  Other companies are driven by budget cycles or annual proposals.

Business owners are not immune to seasons and cycles.  Think about the past year.  Were there predictable periods when you knew you would be overworked or stressed out?  How about periods where you could anticipate a chance to get caught up or catch your breath?  Now think about how the seasons and cycles may affect your decision making and your accessibility as a manager, or your vision as an entrepreneur.  During the crazy season, you may be moving as fast as you can, but are stress and fatigue hurting your mood, temper or decision-making ability?  Are you as good a boss during the peak times as you are during the less crazed periods where you have more time to listen and the opportunity to deliberate on an answer?  Does your stress radiate throughout the organization, hindering everyone else’s productivity and dampening the office mood?

When you stop to notice how business cycles and seasonal demand affect us as entrepreneurs, we see that we may have our own  personal “hurricane season”  with moody tempests or a “La Nina” firestorm due to frayed nerves and an over-extended calendar.

Once you understand and recognize your own personal seasons and cycles, you can start to take measures to keep storm season from becoming a disaster.  Don’t be afraid to delegate more in order to give yourself breathing room.  Get temporary help or interns.  Make time even in the busiest seasons to take care of yourself with healthy food, enough sleep, exercise, and short relaxation breaks.  Making a conscious effort to manage your storm season can have a huge positive impact, not just on your personal wellbeing, but on the mood and productivity of everyone who depends on you.

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Marketing, Strategy

The Wrong Thing Well -OR- the Right Thing Poorly?

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

I’ve learned an important lesson this quarter, and it’s about the “Hard Work” part of the Big Dreams and Hard Work we talk about here. I’ve always been a focused, hard worker – you know that “Protestant Work Ethic” idea?  And I have a strong confidence in my own ability to do anything I set my mind to, and I pretty much always have done that (except for my forray into raising rabbits – I’ll talk about that next week).

The curse of being able to do a lot of stuff, like code web sites, sew clothing, can beans, grind wheat, make bread from scratch, clean house, create gardens, train dogs… that it just isn’t possible to enjoy all those things. I’m not a professional seamstress or a skilled web designer, but I often get myself caught in a “should” of since-I-know-how-to-do-that, I SHOULDN’T pay-someone-else syndrome. I know one thing:

“Many high performers would rather do the wrong thing well than do the right thing poorly. And when they do find themselves in over their head, they’re often unwilling to admit it, even to themselves, and refuse to ask for the help they need.”

I’ve been stuck for the last several weeks, trying to do some wrong things, and struggling to do the right things poorly.  Last week, I hired a professional to do some things that I know how to do, albeit poorly, and it’s an enormous relief to my schedule, to my creativity, and to my day.

What on earth have I been ‘thinking’ all these years? What are you able to do, albeit poorly that you could ask an expert to help you with?

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Filed under Balance, Image & Identity, Sheryl Eldene, Strategy

Who are your market makers?

By Gail Z. Martin

I owe a debt to a friend of mine, Chia-li Chen, for coining the phrase “market makers” (you can listen to her this month on my Shared Dreams podcast at (  It’s a brilliant phrase, and a brilliant idea.

“Market makers” are the partners who help you reach a wider audience than you would have otherwise been able to meet.  They are the event promoters who invite you to speak at a national conference, the large corporation that  buy a quantity of your book as an incentive prize, or maybe the corporate website that hosts you on a teleseminar for all of their clients.

Who are your market makers?

Sometimes, people stumble into market makers, but most of the time, it’s intentional.  It comes from having a clear idea of who your ideal client is, and where you can find them in clusters.  Market makers also help you accelerate your growth by connecting with you to lots of your ideal prospects, instead of you having to find those prospects one at a time.

How do you know a market maker when you see it?  Think about the companies that serve your ideal clients, who provide complementary—not competing—services, and that are organized enough so that affiliation with them creates scalable growth for you.  What companies would be a great fit for you as a speaker or for your books?   What organizations could hire you over and over again to consult or speak, or provide large orders of product?

Then it’s up to you to network your way in front of decision makers with a great win-win proposal.  When there’s a good match, both sides will clearly see the benefit.

Who are your market makers?

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Marketing, Strategy