Want To Succeed? Don’t Check Your Email – And Work Out At Lunch

working out at lunch

David Morken practically sparkles with energy, even over the phone.  Morken is Co-founder and CEO of Bandwidth, a 15-year-old company that focuses on IP-based communication technology – and is proud of the fact that they’re “challenging the standards of old telecom” in everything they do.  Their stated mission is to unlock remarkable value for our customers – and, as I discovered when I spoke to him, Morken is convinced that a big part of doing that involves ‘unlocking remarkable value’ for their employees: making Bandwidth a place that supports employees’ body, mind and spirit.

One Bandwidth policy supports all three: the company has (and enforces) a total embargo on email to and from the company during vacation.  That is, when you’re on vacation, you may not communicate with the company and they may not communicate with you.  And to make sure the policy is followed to the T: when someone goes on vacation, all the folks he or she would ordinarily communicate with (employees, partners, boss, etc.) get an email, saying “so-and-so is on vacation.  If he or she contacts you for any reason, please let us know.”

While it may sound a little draconian, it means that folks generally only break the rule once: getting a phone call from the CEO reconfirming that you’re on vacation and shouldn’t be emailing anybody seems to convince everyone that the policy is real. And, according to Morken, while lots of people have told him it’s difficult at first, no one has ever told him they think it’s a bad idea.

The results? Employees experience vacations as vacations: rejuvenation, reconnection and relaxation. And managers put more attention toward developing their folks  – because their folks can’t call them when there’s an emergency during their absence; they have to be willing and able to handle it themselves. Finally, Morken says, it makes managers more thoughtful about preparing for vacation: if you really can’t give added instructions or sort things out while you’re gone, it’s essential to get as much clarity as possible beforehand about what’s supposed to happen when you’re not there.  He’s convinced that this has impact outside of vacation time, as well: that the increased clarity and trust ‘leak’ out into employees’ interactions every day.

Then there are the 90-minute lunches.

This part is voluntary vs mandatory, but it’s still an important aspect of the culture.  Any employee can take a (paid) one-and-a-half-hour lunch to pursue fitness.  Not only will Bandwidth pay you for the time, they’ll pay your gym membership, shuttle you to the gym, provide access to a personal trainer, and offer you a comprehensive “know and go” assessment of your physical condition that gives you a foundation of information for getting in better shape.

It’s a big investment for a relatively small (400 employee) company – so what’s the payoff?  Morken believes that because everyone has limited time outside of work to be a significant other, a parent, a friend, or to pursue other non-work passions, making time for fitness during work hours makes it more likely that employees will both get and stay fit, and have time to focus on the non-work parts of their lives –  improving both morale and productivity.

These unusual policies seem to be paying off in terms of business results: Bandwidth is set to make $150M this year – up about 20% from last year –  and they anticipate $200M in profitable revenues next year.

I love hearing about companies and executive teams that are willing to do more than just talk about creating a culture focused on supporting people to be their best: who are willing to put dollars into it and create policies that support it. -Erika Anderson, Forbes Magazine Contributor

Work Your Way into Better Habits for 2014

Work habits

 

 

 

 

It’s a new year – which means you’re probably contemplating resolutions for personal improvement and ways you can break bad habits. Because most positions often require an attention to detail, better habits can improve productivity and make it easier to focus on the task at hand. By taking small steps, you can break bad habits and replace them with productive behaviors.

Before you can change bad habits into good habits, you must identify the things that have prevented you from making progress in the past. At work, many professionals find a myriad of excuses to avoid making progress on personal development goals. Many people are held back by fear—that you might not succeed, that your goals will prevent you from getting your work done, or that you don’t have the resources to accomplish a personal improvement goal. Other roadblocks are related to the perceived hassle or stress of creating a new habit. Once you identify the things that hold you back from making progress, you can find ways around them.

Personal improvement can often feel like an uphill battle. One of the most important things to do when creating a positive habit at work is to start small. When you take on a large goal all at once, you create a high risk of failure. Instead, start with a large goal and break it down into smaller components. According to a recent Forbes article, a specific, organized plan with carefully delineated steps can make it easier to stick to your goals.

If you want to adopt more efficient filing habits, for example, start by identifying the things you want to change about your current system. Pick one item and focus on changing it for a full week. You might create a different naming convention and practice it for a week. The next week, you could work on renaming directories, and the next week, you might move files into more logical folders. The same process works for any habit; by focusing on small changes, the overall personal improvement process feels less daunting and overwhelming.

Chances are, in your quest for personal improvement, you will come across challenges. A big project at work can make it easy to lose focus on a goal. A stressful week might lead you to fall back into old habits, and a demanding boss can make it difficult to accomplish your small milestones. To reduce the impact on your personal development plan, make a list of potential challenges. For each item, create a plan that will enable you to accomplish your work without stalling your progress. In doing so, you can reinforce the positive habit.

Whether you are trying to revamp your professional image or finding ways to do your job more efficiently, better habits can increase your chances of success. By building positive, productive habits, you can make light work of the personal improvement process.

16 Basic Principles for Avoiding Stupidity

Don't be an idiot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early in my career, someone told me that “not being an idiot is a sustainable competitive advantage.” Unbelievably, it’s the truth. It’s easy to jump past the basics and focus on the challenging, and often confusing, topics that seemingly lead to success.

But the longer I live, the more I’m convinced that understanding and consistently practicing a handful of basic principles, like the 16 below, is the surest path to success. As Shane Parrishsaid, “Spend less time trying to be brilliant and more time trying to avoid obvious stupidity.”

1. Follow Through: Just do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. If you quoted a price, stick with it. If you promised something, deliver.

2. Say “Thank You”: The world doesn’t owe you anything, so don’t act like it does. When someone acts in your best interest, thank him. If you’re given a gift, thank the person who thought of you. If you’re particularly pleased with someone’s performance…you get the idea.

3. Be On Time: Circumstances occasionally cause a justified aberration. But most of the time, tardiness signals self-importance, a lack of respect, and disorganization. As the saying goes, “Five minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

4. Use Impeccable Grammar: This is the clearest canary in the mine. If someone can’t properly spell, punctuate, or structure a sentence, chances are he a) is not well-educated, b) lacks attention to detail, and c) doesn’t care. Any way you slice it, bad grammar is bad news.

5. Say “Sorry”: Being wrong is being human. Just own up to it, and everyone will move on. Apologizing conveys that you a) care, b) are humble, and c) are self-aware. It’s incredible how much a genuine “sorry” can make up for.

6. Be Intentional: We all have the same amount of time. You can choose to randomly stumble around, hoping to bump into money, meaning, love, friendships, and opportunities. Or you can be intentional. It’s your choice, every single day.

7. Question Why: The smartest people in the world know what they don’t know, and they aren’t scared to look ignorant. If you don’t understand, ask “Why?” until you get it. This simple technique is the greatest antidote for the illogical and inexplicable.

8. Default to SilenceThere’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth. If you don’t have something meaningful to say, keep your trap shut. This ensures that when a significant thought does arise, people might actually listen.

9. Set Expectations: The formula is simple: Happiness = Reality — Expectations. Changing reality is hard. Setting expectations is easy. Under-promise and fill reality with happiness.

10. Take Responsibility: We love to rationalize blame. While it feels good to play the victim, it’s incredibly destructive, leading to a cynical and jaded life. The far better approach is to say, “It’s all my fault.” It gives you control to change yourself and your circumstances.

11. Say “No”: Life is a game of opportunity costs. If you say “yes,” you’re saying “no” to something else. Have clear priorities, pursue opportunities that align, and say “no” to everything else.

12. Continuously Learn: If you wake up each day trying to get a little better, before long, you’ll find yourself ahead. Read, ask, and listen. If something conflicts with your worldview, dig deeper and determine whether you should embrace it or discard it.

13. Embrace Simplicity: Small bits of complexity add up quickly and exponentially. A little white lie can get you fired. A little gossip can ruin a friendship. A little kiss can end a marriage. Enough small splurges can lead to bankruptcy. Given a choice, always choose simplicity.

14. Gain Perspective: We measure ourselves by our intentions, but others by their actions. But you’re not a special snowflake. Everyone else, regardless of how convinced you are that they’re “doing fine,” is struggling with something. Remember that to have some perspective.

15. Check Yourself: As Warren Buffett says, “Negotiating with one’s self seldom produces a barroom brawl.” Surround yourself with people who will a) call you on your BS, b) thoughtfully help you reason, and c) genuinely understand your weaknesses.

16. Avoid Eating Crap: You were given exactly one container for this life, and the quickest way to damage it is by consistently eating lab-concocted, food-like substances pumped full of chemicals, hormones, and fake nutrition. Simply eat real food that came from something previously living in a recognizable form.

The truth is that 100 percent consistency is impossible, and I’m certainly no exception. In the past two weeks, I’ve been late to a meeting, parroted some gossip, and failed to say “sorry” to two  people who deserved to hear it — and that’s just what I can recall. But I’m constantly striving to walk the talk, and I encourage you to do the same. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” -Brent Beshore

Five Ways To Be Amazing At Work

StarIn every company, there are a few employees who stand out. They’re the ones who always finish first, get recognized for their accomplishments and eventually make their way up the ranks. Invariably, they know how to play the political game. But there are other qualities that world-class performers have in common. Here’s how you can be one of them.

1. Be obsessed with productivity. The best employees tend to work in jobs and businesses they love. As a result, thoughts of how to be more successful and productive rarely leave their mind. In fact, the great ones have to force themselves into non-work activities just to give their mind a chance to rest and recover.

2. Solve problems. Problem solving is the cornerstone of commerce. Average employees tend to spend more time jockeying for position to gain favor from their superiors than they do solving problems. Great ones are not interested in management kudos; they are interested in results. World-class managers and employees solve problems quickly and move on to solving bigger, more complex problems, whether individually or as part of a team.

3. Take risks. The most common commodity in corporate America is the sales manager who craves the approval and friendship of his sales team. The second most common commodity is the sales manager who rules her team with an iron fist, refusing to consider feedback or input from the field.

World-class leaders are neither dictators nor micromanagers. Instead, they have two primary objectives: increase revenues and bring out the best in the people they lead. That might mean being unpopular and pushing people beyond their comfort zones, or being there for a team member who has hit rock bottom. These leaders can adapt to any situation. The great ones never play it safe when it comes to leading their teams through change, knowing their job is to serve as a guide and coach.

4. Have a strong work ethic. Amateurs work just hard enough to escape being fired. They expect to be compensated for every little thing they do – if they can be over-compensated, even better.

The pros have exactly the opposite mindset. They understand that the marketplace will richly reward a world-class work ethic with an endless stream of opportunities. This work ethic is the reason so many immigrants come to the free world and become millionaires. They’re so grateful for the opportunity to work hard that no one can convince them to slow down.

5. Find a coach. Corporate America and entrepreneurs are starting to catch on to something that athletes have always known: if you want to maximize your potential in anything, hire a coach. Coaching is to performance what leadership is to an organization. Since human beings are primarily emotional creatures, competent coaches are experts in stoking the fires that burn within. The more coachable and open-minded your employees, the better they’ll perform.

Trouble is, ego can get in the way. The best employees are the most open to world-class coaching. They don’t care about ego satisfaction when it comes to improving their results; all they’re looking for is an edge, no matter how slight. When two companies or opponents go head-to-head, many times the only thing that favors the winner is a slight edge in thinking, strategy and technique.

From: http://www.mentaltoughnesssecrets.com/

5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM

Thatcher-locRise and shine! Morning time just became your new best friend. Love it or hate it, utilizing the morning hours before work may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle. That’s right, early rising is a common trait found in many CEOs, government officials, and other influential people. Margaret Thatcher was up every day at 5 a.m.; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4 am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes at 4:30am just to name a few. I know what you’re thinking – you do your best work at night. Not so fast. According to Inc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive. In addition, the health benefits for those with a life before work go on and on. Let’s explore 5 of the things successful people do before 8 am.

Working out

2. Map Out Your Day. Maximize your potential by mapping out your schedule for the day, as well as your goals and to dos. The morning is a good time for this as it is often one of the only quiet times a person gets throughout the day. The early hours foster easier reflection that helps when prioritizing your activities. They also allow for uninterrupted problem solving when trying to fit everything into your timetable. While scheduling, don’t forget about your mental health. Plan a 10 minute break after that stressful meeting for a quick walk around the block or a moment of meditation at your desk. Trying to eat healthy? Schedule a small window in the evening to pack a few nutritious snacks to bring to work the next day.

healthy_breakfast_meals

3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. We all know that rush out the door with a cup of coffee and an empty stomach feeling. You sit down at your desk, and you’re already wondering how early that taco truck sets up camp outside your office. No good. Take that extra time in the morning to fuel your body for the tasks ahead of it. It will help keep your mind on what’s at hand and not your growling stomach. Not only is breakfast good for your physical health, it is also a good time to connect socially. Even five minutes of talking with your kids or spouse while eating a quick bowl of oatmeal can boost your spirits before heading out the door.

visualization

4. Visualization. These days we talk about our physical health ad nauseam, but sometimes our mental health gets overlooked. The morning is the perfect time to spend some quiet time inside your mind meditating or visualizing. Take a moment to visualize your day ahead of you, focusing on the successes you will have. Even just a minute of visualization and positive thinking can help improve your mood and outlook on your work load for the day.

guy on ladder

5. Make Your Day Top Heavy. We all have that one item on our to do list that we dread. It looms over you all day (or week) until you finally suck it up and do it after much procrastination. Here’s an easy tip to save yourself the stress – do that least desirable task on your list first. Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way. The morning is the time when you are (generally) more well rested and your energy level is up. Therefore, you are more well equipped to handle more difficult projects. And look at it this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around. By the time your work day is ending, you’re winding down with easier to dos and heading into your free time more relaxed. Success! – Forbes Magazine

7 Things I Wish I Had Known at 25

 

work-advice-known-25-ftrWe’ve all had transformative moments.

You know what I’m talking about: those brief instances when you find yourself reflecting on lessons you’ve learned over the years. They may come professionally or personally. Sometimes they’re huge life lessons that really shake things up. Other times, they’re small things that are easily forgotten if not put to use.

I’m a firm believer that no one’s born a leader or expert. It’s the experiences we encounter that help transform us into better, brighter, and more successful versions of ourselves. For me, I started out as an entrepreneur, a move made with little thought at the nontraditional age of 16. Today, my experiences as a serial entrepreneur, CEO, leader, father, and husband have taught me a lot.

But imagine if you could bundle up the key lessons you’ve learned in your professional years and hand them to those just starting out. I want to do just that.

Here are seven things I’ve learned professionally that I was fortunate to gain, but wish I had known when I was just starting out:

1. Proactivity is a secret weapon. There’s this general stereotype I want to put an end to immediately: Jobs aren’t about waiting around and doing things as they’re assigned. Far too many people—even those with passion to spare—fall into this trap.

Begin building your proactive habits as soon as possible by seeking out ways to go above and beyond your role every day. This could mean kicking your projects to the next level, finding new ways to impact your company, or even just improving internal processes to make things run smoother. Proactivity is a crucial part of advancing your career.

2. Perfection isn’t attainable. Being a perfectionist and micromanaging others—even if they aren’t your direct reports—can be damaging. These are two things I personally struggled with early on. I learned quickly that people don’t like being told what to do, and good leadership and management don’t come from tweaking things to perfection. Instead, I learned to live by the 80/20 rule and ask questions to derive answers when it comes to managing others.

3. Great public speaking skills create influence. When I was just starting out, I had a mentor who took me under his wing. Tom Antion was a successful entrepreneur and great public speaker, but I never thought much of it until the time came for me to really dive into public speaking.

It’s important to understand that those who can speak well, be it in a company meeting or at a presentation, typically become trusted leaders. Never stop improving as a public speaker, even if it’s something you initially fear. If you have a strong voice and show confidence, authority will follow.

4. Work isn’t just about cashing your paycheck. If you’re in it for the money alone, you’re probably not going to get very far. Work is truly about passion—finding and doing what you love. Being driven by passion is an insanely beneficial motivator.

So, if you’re not passionate about the job you’re doing today, what can you do to find your passion? Would it be a new job? What about a new role within your company? Whatever it takes, find and pursue your passion sooner rather than later.

5. Seek out a mentor. As I stated above, I was fortunate enough to have started and fueled my career due to the guidance of a great mentor. If you don’t already have a mentor, it’s time to go out and find one.

You may find a mentor in someone within your company or a person you look up to in your industry. If you don’t already know of someone who would make a great mentor, there are plenty of websites, organizations, conferences and networking events that can hook you up with someone who shares your professional vision and can offer helpful advice.

6. Know what makes you better than the rest. The days of fitting into a professional mold are dead and gone.

Today, knowing what sets you apart from the crowd professionally is the way to build your career. Knowing your top skills and using them to establish your personal brand will catch the eye of employers and maybe even lead you to starting a business of your own.

7. Always risk it. We all know that risks and rewards go hand-in-hand. If you aren’t open to taking the occasional risk, you’re likely to get stuck in a flow that you can’t break from. This doesn’t always mean starting your own business or quitting your job for something less conventional. Taking risks often means overcoming your fears and reaching for opportunities you may have overlooked with more thinking.

I wish I had known these seven lessons when I was 25, but I’m thankful to be able to share them regardless. One thing’s for certain: there is never any time to stop learning and growing as a professional. -Ilya Pozin

What do you wish you had known professionally in your 20s?

How to Eliminate Habits Holding You Back From Success

how-eliminate-habits-holding-back-successHumans love routine. When it comes to achieving measurable goals,  this means we tend to do what we’ve always done, how we’ve always done it, in  the same order as always.

This also goes for our habits when working in teams. You’ve  probably been working with your team long enough to feel like you know what to  expect from them. You’ve developed habitual patterns in the way you interact  together. And probably, the feeling is mutual. Maybe it’s time to shake up those  impressions.

To be a better manager, it’s important to take risks and introduce needed  improvements. This often means identifying what’s working and what needs  improvement. Sometimes discovering those specifics is as simple as asking three  questions:

  1. What habits have gotten you where you are today?
  2. What habits may be holding you  back from reaching your next desired  accomplishments?
  3. Is it time to ask for feedback?

Taking a close look at your habits provides wonderful insight into what has  worked so far. It allows you to make conscious changes. My friend and mentor,  Marshall Goldsmith, wrote a book whose title says it all: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. What habits are  you currently using that might be keeping you from reaching your next level of  accomplishments?

Here are a  few places to start: Do you start meetings on time? Do you  listen to comments fully without interrupting? Do you ask clarifying questions?  Do you look at the person talking or keep your eyes on your digital device? Do  you offer acknowledgement for a job well done or for new ideas? What habits have  you gotten into that serve you well? What habits need to be changed to help you  move forward?

Next, ask yourself what you’re doing that is getting in the way of achieving  your goals. I know an entrepreneur who recently realized he was using the first  hour of his day to try and catch up on email and touch all his social media  profiles. As a five-day experiment one week, he focused that hour in the morning  only on reaching out to new vendors to support his buisiness. This one simple  change allowed him to move his launch date up by three full weeks.

One way to discover what is and isn’t working well when it comes to your  habits is to ask for feedback from those around you. Asking for feedback won’t  signal that something is wrong. Rather, it shows you are open to new ideas and  approaches.

Asking for feedback can also fast-track your efforts. Feedback can maximize  your focus, energy and time so that you get more of the right things done. Time  and again, I’ve seen how entrepreneurs who were doing fairly well managed to  supersize their productivity and get even more out of their day and efforts  simply by being receptive to a bit of feedback.

To know if your habits are working or not, clearly define the results you  want. When you fully understand what you want to accomplish, you can reflect on  how your actions over the past few hours, days or weeks can get you closer to  your goal. -Jason W. Womack