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“Personalizing your Organization Skills,” Vol.XCV

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Vol. XCV

Dear Manager,

What would be considered the founding fundamentals for an outstanding manager or entrepreneur? Having worked with many real pros, my vote would include the following abilities: organization, the ability to define and respond to priority, discipline, and focus on effective delegation.

I’ve recently been meeting with a circle of friends to learn from each other by sharing our standards of how best to sustain personal growth in some of these arenas. From experience, most managers would suggest these are topics essential to good management. I’ve also found that in application, effectiveness as compared to reality can be all across the board. I’ve known and worked with some of the best; I’ve also seen the alternative. It all begins with organization.

In the early 80’s, I had a sales person who was moving out of state. She offered to bring me her files, which would be provided to her successor. She was a good salesperson, we had a good working relationship, and I knew her files would be invaluable to a new rep. When she arrived, she placed a neat stack of business cards bound by a rubber band on my desk. When asked where her files were, she confidently said this was all she had. Her “organizational system” had been wrapped in a rubber band! By her expression and body language, I knew that she was indeed telling me the truth.

Astounded, I set forth to develop a training session relating to organizational skills. As a group, we shared ideas that would help us individually and as a company. It’s certainly not essential that everyone uses the same system, but it is essential that a system exist (hopefully, one that is outrageously effective!).

Over the years I’ve used a simple system, developed by sharing ideas with others, that’s extremely successful for me and other professionals. If your current organizational system is outrageously effective, congratulations. Perhaps the suggestions in this month’s INTERPERSONAL wouldn’t apply to you, but I’ll bet you know someone who could use them!


It’s time to re-acquaint yourself with a narrow rule legal pad (yellow is my preference, but you are more than welcome to select your favorite color). Begin by visualizing, or by drawing, four quadrants on the page.

• The upper left is my primary corner/quadrant, and is devoted to names of individuals, with their phone numbers, that must be contacted at my earliest possible convenience. These are individuals who’ve left me a message, or come up on my calendar, as needing to be contacted. Once my commitment to speak with this individual has been completed, their name is crossed out. In the event a message was my only option, a check mark is made to acknowledge an effort was made.

• Projects for the current day/week are listed in the upper right quadrant, to be accomplished as time allows. Generally, these are listed by priority. Once again, when the task has been accomplished, it’s crossed off the list.

• I reserve the lower left quadrant for phone calls that may need repeated follow up in the days ahead, or calls that are of priority but not immediate.

• Finally, the lower right quadrant is reserved for projects that hold potential, but require further thought prior to implementation. I use this for the incubation of ideas and projects.

Each topic or individual is simply a brief reminder of a priority at hand. Once noted, there’s no longer the need to try to remember who and what the primary areas of focus are for the coming days. It’s a huge relief to get it written down, and then to be able to let it go until an appropriate time. There’s also tremendous satisfaction in the “visual” of what’s been accomplished in your day. What’s more rewarding than CROSSING SOMETHING OFF YOUR LIST? Discipline would suggest, of course, that a name or project stays on the list until accomplished.

At the end of the day, I pull the top sheet, transfer incomplete projects and contacts (with any additions made during the day) in preparation for my next day in the office. With this, each day has a fresh start, and I’m confident nothing is being forgotten or dismissed out of hand. Simple, as promised.

If organization is the foundation of being able to prioritize, find discipline, and delegate, how would a system such as this help fulfill all of these priorities for managers? Basically, a system such as this provides you with all the visual tools and information to accomplish these objectives simultaneously.

The ability to prioritize in an organized fashion shows you, at a glance, those individuals and projects that demand your immediate attention. Knowing that things won’t “cross themselves off,” will give you the discipline to stay on task whether you are in the mood or not. We all find ourselves a bit overwhelmed at times, inertia sets in and, in all honesty, a nap would seem to hold the greatest priority.

Additionally, this process creates an exceptional vehicle for determining priority areas that, realistically, deserve the attention of someone other than you. If a contact or project is consistently sliding day after day to your revised list, consider making it someone else’s priority.

Some might suggest that an organizational discipline such as this would be too confining or dominating. I’ve found it to be just the opposite, as it provides me with the confidence, the luxury, and freedom to let go. This, in turn, enhances my down time.

Forget the PDA and get yourself a YLP!

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2012. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM

“Give Up on Pandora Closing Her Box!” Vol. XCIV

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Dear Manager,

We’ve continued to address the ever-changing economic environment that we, as managers and business owners, now navigate. A better understanding of its evolution will spark creative thought, and bring greater clarity to our own evaluation.

In conversations with managers and organizations, I continue to be befuddled by those in complete and abject denial, that how they’ve done business in the past must be significantly rethought, if not completely overhauled. In review of lessons past we can find greater understanding of just how deeply this economic evolution has impacted our own (and very personal) economic arena.

One final time, past economic standards, assurances, expectations, climates, and scenarios are, for all intents and purposes, collectively in the toilet. If we’re still waiting for a failing sector to make a miraculous recovery, then we, as captains, are destined to go down with the ship. Compound this with a very challenging economic cycle, and I can almost hear the sucking sound of water rushing through the portholes.


Changes in purchasing power, options, habits, mentality, and motivation are all about thirty degrees off center. In fact, think in terms of this shift as having created a new point of center. This is how far we’ve come. What were the contributing factors, and how has it occurred at such lighting speed?

Years ago, when we “needed” a new bike or transistor radio, we’d head to the local hometown department store. This is where everyone made their “major purchases.” Selection may have been limited, and price comparison was somewhat of an option, but we could always find a bike or a transistor radio.

With amazing levels of expansion, and billions of dollars in discretionary income available, the retail industry became much more specialized in its product and presentation. Small, yet specialized retailers became the seed for the phenomenon we now know as the “big box.”

From lumberyards to video stores, if you can fit it into a profitable big box environment, we’ve either seen it, or are likely to in the future. You can bet your last dollar on it! Certainly there are industries that have been spared, often because the profit/service models haven’t yet been economized to scale. We’re only destined to experience further proliferation of this very successful business model.

This age of knowledge, instant price comparison, minimal profit margins, and flexibility has forever changed the average consumer. Combine the price points now available in these sectors, with the absolute worldwide exposure now available on a product-by- product basis on the Internet, and we can begin to see how far we’ve come from the local department store environment.

As discretionary income has increased, discretionary time has decreased. There can be no turning back. I spoke with an associate recently who summed it up nicely. “The two-income family simply no longer has the time for the former shopping experience, and the single-income family, either by choice or by economic circumstance, can no longer afford to pay a premium when shopping.”


We’ve all been economically educated, in fact spoiled, with ways to maximize our discretionary income. The low cost models of the big box and the Internet have effectively accomplished this task. I can’t fathom a more competitive retail and service environment than the one we find ourselves in today, with the exception of the great Depression. With profit margins of 6% to 10% now found at Sam’s and the like, do you really think “PANDORA’S PRICING” can ever be ratcheted out of the consumers’ psyche? Jeff Bezos will never step away from his model of free freight, even if he wants to. Pandora strikes again! The model, the expectation, the psyche, is set in stone.

How has this new, well-informed, well trained, price conscious consumer responded to these new found low pricing freedoms? The world has now become their oyster. If they can find this purchasing power in one sector, why not expect it in all areas of purchasing decisions? Are you going to buy a copy machine or big screen television at Costco, or Bloomingdale’s? As a culture, we now expect to receive similar price considerations, and are no longer afraid to ask! The economic training continues, moving us even further off center.


The earliest and greatest initial success on the Internet has come through the bidding process of purchasing both consumer and commercial goods and services. This exciting approach to purchasing has only taken the consumer further off center as it relates to their frame of reference and expectations relating to purchasing power. If I can bid for a car three thousand miles away, why not allow it to compete with one three miles away?

I’ve worked with construction contractors for over thirty years on both large and small projects. In years past, I would have depended on a contractor I trusted to subcontract and complete the entire project. I now have the time and motivation and efficiencies to “shop around,” meeting with a minimum of three trades’ people competent in their specialty. The savings have been nothing short of startling. On a recent project, custom cabinets from a new relationship netted $18,000 in savings. Pandora Rules!

There certainly have been occasions where my newfound purchasing freedoms were less than well received. Individuals (at times friends) who couldn’t bid competitively felt betrayed by my willingness to look beyond the convenience of simply asking them to do the job. I may like you as a person, but does this obligate me to pay significantly more to sustain the relationship? By nature, myself included, business gains enhanced margins out of convenience and long standing relationships. I respect this. I’ve also found advantage in not blindly accepting this.

As a culture, we now have an enriched perspective relating to value. There are simply too many rewards to appreciate and embrace. We’ve been conditioned to expect and deserve this value in all facets of our life. This reality will challenge all of us in business, in many cases for the better.

We must first accept the seduction of Pandora, enjoy her virtues as they benefit us, and accept the revised point of center. She’s not going to close the box.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2012. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM

“Communication: the Best Way to Avoid Being Forgotten,” Vol. XCIII

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Dear Manager,

Economic cycles always challenge business to become much more adept at the fundamentals. In a recent issue, I discussed the relationships and contrasts between productivity and efficiency. As discussed, these are often evaluated as a single entity, while in reality they have little, if any, relationship whatsoever. I appreciate all of your input from this topic, and hope this issue of conflicting realities evokes further discussion.

While I believe we’d all agree that effective communication is essential to any strong organizational structure, it’s also, more often than not, poorly accomplished. Effective communication takes precious time and resolve to accomplish. Shortages of both seem to be a way of life in today’s business! In addition, this is an area of management we wouldn’t normally consider to be “in our face.” Yes, for many it is a function that falls through the cracks. Not just on an occasional basis, but as a point of reality, on a perpetual basis. How might we begin to restore this priority to its rightful position within our company?

In working with a variety companies, it’s become obvious that all managers have communication forms and forums that they feel are most effective in translating their thoughts. While some prefer personal meetings, others do so by phone, email, or in formal written correspondence. While we can agree this art is essential, its form is much less important than the accomplishment of its goal.

As our organizations grow, so does the corresponding responsibility to reevaluate needs versus reality. Failure to maintain open channels will only lead to false perceptions among your greatest assets: the key relationships that are essential to your company.

Who Are Your Core Assets?

Most organizations retain three forms of core assets: their staff, their customer base, and their strategic business relationships. While one or more of these resources may enjoy effective communication, does each receive the communication and degree of visibility that meets your collective needs? My own analysis suggests that all parties fail at some level to meet the minimums in reaching optimum communications.

It would be much more likely for a manager to have an in depth communication with one in ten of these designated priority relationships on a recurring basis. And many of the communications taking place would revolve around a specific issue, topic, or crisis; general discussions are much less likely. What’s on the minds of these “significant players” is essential to the ongoing success of your organization.

With their shared priority for our collective success, what input might they provide of significant value if given the opportunity? Do they currently feel as if their voice is being heard, and that a forum is available for them to contribute to their own constituency’s success? Could the perception exist that management simply doesn’t want the input?

A Forum is Now at Our Fingertips!

How can we effectively and efficiently swing that office door wide open? Like it or not, we continue to evolve into the instant gratification world of email. While this holds an equal degree of potential and missed opportunities, with proper structure it’s a very user-friendly form of communication. It should never replace our priority for personal communication, but it can be a first step in enhancing and motivating participation.

Most, if not all, Internet service providers have the ability to arrange for a second address within your personal email account or corporate website. I’d suggest this new address be opened for the sole purpose of improved communication between key managers and those priority relationships discussed earlier. You might even
name it TALK TO US @ — or CONVERSATIONS OVER DINNER@— And how is this any different from my current email account, you ask? When an individual logs on to this account, they understand there are priorities given to the message, and standards to be maintained in its use. Ground rules are essential to its effective use and should be stated (and monitored) upfront, if not on the masthead of the account. The ground rules should include:

• The objective of this forum is to create a positive and productive link between management and its key partners (personal concerns and issues should obviously be communicated on a more personal basis; this is NOT a venue to bitch and moan).
• The communication of ideas, suggestions, and opportunities are the foundation of this new vehicle intended to enhance the product and workplace in which we share.
• Correspondence should be limited to a single paragraph of a hundred words or less and must be to the point and well thought out.
• Each correspondence will be reviewed and responded to on a timely basis.
• It’s possible (and should be stated) that it’s likely the communication will be shared in open forum in the hopes that optimum value can be realized.
• No idea or concept will be trivialized or demeaned in any way.
• This is your opportunity to shine; your communication and valued input is essential to the use of all of our professional resources and will be appreciated and acknowledged.

I’d recommend that the announcement of this vehicle be orchestrated as a “bold and exciting commitment to draw these varied relationships to an inviting place of shared ideas.” You might even consider using a formal invitation to announce your concept. Participation is essential and should be highly encouraged. Ideas and concepts should be forwarded to interested parties for their thoughts and personal observations and, on occasion, to this focus group as a whole.

On a monthly (or weekly) basis, you may wish to reward and announce the ideas of the month with an intimate dinner (promoting other forms of communication!) for two to be given to the most recent and valued inspiration. Announce the individual and how the concept provided will be implemented to benefit all parties. Keep the forum exciting, active, relevant, and fun.

You might wonder, “Why not open a web-based newsgroup where all parties can interact and mingle?” Remember, you want to maintain an open and objective forum, one without a personal agenda or potential for grandstanding. Greater control and a sense of confidentiality will be provided when you have the first opportunity to review content, evaluating its potential for further review.

This is a relatively simple first step in beginning to meet the communication potential of an organization. Encourage participants to write down thoughts during the day to forward that evening. Knowing that their voices will be heard and responded to creates a much greater sense of participation and personal ownership. What more can an organization hope for?

Not only that, who better to provide constructive ideas and opportunities than those with vested interests: your priority relationships?

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2012. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM

“Hopeless Romantics or Seasoned Entrepreneurs?” Vol. XCII

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Dear Manager,

One of the greatest pleasures for a manager or business owner is found in their ability to dream. I think the best definition of an entrepreneur would be: An individual who’s predestined to reach out and take risk in order to capture their vision. Stay with me, I know I’m edging close to “The Wizard of Oz” and “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Whether you’re willing or not to admit it, we are truly hopeless romantics when it comes to business.

What other profession allows us to live in this virtual world when it comes to our future, our fulfillment, and our destiny? Personally, I can only come up with one line of work – a professional gambler – and I can certainly relate to THEIR inspiration and motivation as it might compare to other professions!

Let’s cut to the chase. We’re competitive by nature and simply hate to lose. Let it never be lost upon others that we compensate for this by being terrific winners! See, in the end it all balances out…

The First “Virtual Thought”

Virtual thought is the incorporation of past successes and failures into the vision of the future. Though the phrase may be relatively new, the concept of “virtual reality” could just have easily applied to the entrepreneurs of past generations. As entrepreneurs mature in their profession, they fine-tune the ability to visualize, forecast and, with a high degree of certainty, to form conclusions based their mental insight. This allows them to transition their dreams from the virtual to the real world.

It’s this “informed state of mind” that fills many managers with great vision and supreme confidence in their chosen profession. This is not to suggest that a seasoned entrepreneur won’t make a bad decision on occasion. It suggests, however, that over time, and with personal development, there are decisions worth “betting the farm on!” It can be difficult for the untrained eye (mind?) of virtual thought to relate to or quantify the potential for success or failure.

Did I Reference The Element Of Risk?

You’ll note that in my original definition of an entrepreneur I referenced the dynamic of risk. As I’ve stated in the past, the very best business people I know are those who’ve experienced failure – perhaps significant financial failure – on a person level. Only through personal failure can an entrepreneur capture and balance both a virtual and authentic state of mind.

While there are many successful individuals with unlimited resources, without significant risk I wouldn’t consider them to be true entrepreneurs. Anyone can spend their way into survival, financially adapt their model, and eventually declare their entrepreneurial success! Cash flow in the real world vs. deep pockets in a dream world is what separates the entrepreneur from the free spender.

If this virtual state is the mindset for most entrepreneurs, it would also suggest that it’s in this state they’d find creativity, pleasure, and fulfillment. I’ve certainly found this to be true; both for myself and for fellow dreamers I’ve known. It’s the planning, positioning, and the preparation (yes, the virtual state), that provides anticipation and motivation.

Prior to making a personal commitment and investment in this virtual state of mind, we already see the reality locked in. We can almost touch and feel the outcome! Experience tells us we can and will transfer the virtual state to an authentic state. Similar to the guy who makes ten consecutive three-point shots, in this state of mind the risk has been mitigated with prior experience and a corresponding overwhelming confidence. Gimme the ball, gimme the ball, gimme the ball!

So is That “Professional Gambler” a Distant Cousin?

Certainly! Just as that distant cousin is a fellow hopeless romantic and entrepreneur! All aspects of business investment hold risk. The only difference between this and other forms of gambling is in their social acceptability and relationship to attaining “The American Dream.” Risk can certainly be quantified and minimized, but it can’t be eliminated. Virtual thought for entrepreneurs is only sustainable in a thought process of virtual success. The absence of virtual success would suggest the absence of an entrepreneur.

The Flash Point of Success

It can become difficult for a seasoned professional to differentiate between a virtual and authentic state of mind. As virtual thinkers, the ultimate payoff – the flash point at which virtual and reality converge – may even go unnoticed. This is why we might find managers so focused on “the quest,” that they take their eye off the only prize: a successful conclusion. The pleasure all too often comes in the anticipated success and the process that comes in the virtual state.

Romance, Seduction, a Mistress and Excess!

All professionals can be seduced into a state of euphoria
by the mistress of success. Truth be told, as a group they can be pretty lousy at living in “the moment.” This is the greatest potential danger in excessive virtual thought. I’m not suggesting we stop courting this mistress; it’s the essence of ones being. After all, we’re dreamers. In fact, what separates the virtual thinker from the hopeless romantic? Perhaps very little!

We’re all well versed and trained in this virtual world. Let’s face it, it provides us with some of our greatest moments of pleasure and achievement. Ultimately, our final vision must be translated to meet our potential in the moment. True entrepreneurs don’t live in a dream world; they dream and act in the real world.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2012. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM