As any remote worker or entrepreneur knows, working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, your schedule might be more flexible, with opportunities to squeeze in chores or childcare responsibilities in between work commitments. On the other hand, it’s easy to fall into a rut and feel disconnected from the other people in your organization—or, if you’re a solopreneur, to lose the drive and energy necessary to maintain your momentum.
On the heels of his very popular first book, Empower Yourself: 7 Steps to Personal Success, John Martin has released a new title that is sure to accelerate your timeline to personal and professional success. Increase Your Personal Productivity: Your Guide to Intentional Living & Doing More of What You Enjoy is a wonderfully helpful guide to implementing a personalized goal system—one that is actually sustainable and repeatable. If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching others live lives that you deem impossible for yourself, or if you just need some support in your current success journey, Increase Your Personal Productivity will provide you with the tools you need to define and achieve success on your own terms. I recently had the opportunity to chat with John about his latest book, and I learned a lot about his refreshing take on productivity.
In her bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain explains how in the twentieth century, extroversion became a cultural value—one that resulted in the conflation of success and outgoingness, likeability and talkativeness. Consequently, “introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.” However, as she notes, pointing to figures like Sir Isaac Newton, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, Dr. Seuss, and J. K. Rowling as examples of high-achieving introverts, “we make a grave mistake to embrace the Extrovert Ideal so unthinkingly. Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions…came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there.”
Humanities majors are becoming increasingly desirable to corporations. Just take a look at this recent study suggesting that Google’s most-prized skills in its employees are those cultivated by a humanities degree rather than a STEM one. But even if you don’t have a degree in the humanities, you can still take insight from the wisdom that programs of study like English, history, and philosophy have to offer.
In his new book The Solutions-Oriented Leader: Your Comprehensive Guide to Achieve World-Class Results, Dr. Rick Goodman defines emotional intelligence (EQ) as the “ability to perceive and identify emotions in the workplace and in your relationships with others…being attuned to the emotions of the people around you, but also to your own emotions—and making your decisions accordingly.”
If you’ve ever wondered what that certain je ne sais quoi is that distinguishes truly great leaders from mediocre ones—that quality that makes them dynamic, engaging, motivating, and that enables them to deliver results—very likely it is emotional intelligence.
In his new book Motivate THIS!: How to Start Each Day with an Unstoppable Attitude to Succeed Regardless of Your Circumstances, professional stand-up comedian and Speaker Hall of Fame inductee Steve Rizzo shares strategies for overcoming the negativity bias that’s programmed into us in childhood and retraining our brains to think more positively in order to reach our goals. One of the methods he endorses is “unleashing the power of your Humor Being.” According to Rizzo, your Humor Being is that part of yourself that enables you to access your sense of humor in order to thrive during life’s ups and downs. Rizzo defines “sense of humor” in a unique way, one that helps readers view it as an actual mental tool for reshaping their outlook: “a sense of humor means to be aware that you have a mental quality to turn your mind in an unusual way, or a need to produce joyful or absurd ideas that can soothe your being.”
These days there are a plethora of opportunities that enable mothers to stay in the workforce while remaining at home, which is fantastic. However, working from home as a mother of small children is no small feat. While I certainly would not dare say that one mom role is harder than another, being a WAHM can be a very trying position: in many ways, the WAHM is, in addition to being a working mom, a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), someone who is responsible for childcare and/or household duties at some point in the day. And in my experience, because you’re juggling these two positions as a WAHM, it is easy to feel like you’re failing at both. Below are some tips for managing the stress and challenges that come with being a WAHM.
During a sales call, the hard-to-find details in the room can often be the secret passageways that lead to an order. What do you look at and what do you look for when you’re in a conference room or someone’s office? Are you so busy “pitching and showing slides” that you forget to look around? Are you staring at your phone in anticipation of the next e-mail or text? No! This is the precise time to be in the moment, look up, and put your “I Spy” skills to work.
A month or so ago, I came across an article in the WashingtonExec about Dr. Sarbari Gupta, CEO of the technology company Electrosoft. In it, she says that Earl Nightingale’s Lead the Field audio program “literally changed [her] viewpoint on life when [she] first heard it in 1995 and motivated [her] to take bolder steps toward [her] goals in life.” Sound Wisdom recently published a beautiful print edition of Lead the Field, so I reached out to Dr. Gupta to learn more about how Nightingale’s work shaped her life and career. She was kind enough to chat with me over the phone, sharing many of her own success strategies as well as those that she gleaned from Nightingale’s audio program.
Recently someone shared a story about how a new employer gifted her daughter with a coveted Peloton bike as a “welcome aboard” present—something to energize her daughter’s new work-at-home routine. I was stunned by this extravagant act of generosity on the part of a small business owner. Immediately, I wanted to know what other employers were similarly using gifts and incentives as a way to make their employees feel valued and motivated. Below are some experiences shared by Sound Wisdom readers.
Before I had kids, I never could have imagined how difficult it would be to try to build a career while parenting small children. As a very career-driven person, I also never anticipated the profound desire I would have to stay home with my children when they were young. This desire has often created a real tension for me, where I’ve felt a nagging pull between work and home. Luckily, I was able to find a work situation that enables me to join my two passions: parenting and working. Indeed, there are many opportunities in today’s work world for women to find part-time, remote, and/or project-based work—opportunities that help women develop their careers when they previously might have had to leave or hit pause on them.
There was an article circulating on my Facebook newsfeed the other day about what you’re really saying when you say, “I don’t need a mic” at a meeting or conference. According to the author, declining to use a microphone is a form of exclusion. It tells the audience that people who are not hard of hearing are valued over and above those who are—that it does not matter if people with hearing differences can comfortably listen to your presentation. In doing so, it not only devalues and ostracizes people who are hard of hearing, but in its baseline assumption about standard hearing and normative communication practices it also reinforces prejudices against those with hearing differences. In other words, it is an ableist behavior—it is discriminatory against people with disabilities.
The sixth Convenience Principle in Shep Hyken’s new book, The Convenience Revolution, is Access. This principle is about “removing unnecessary friction from the typical customer’s day.” According to Hyken, the three factors that contribute to it are availability, communication, and location.
A large and growing percentage of the population has a disability, and these customers contribute greatly to the economy. However, many businesses do not make an effort to be accessible to customers with disabilities, which, on top of being unethical, can be really detrimental to their company. It’s important to consider how your business—and the businesses you support—make themselves accessible to their customers who have disabilities, whether visible or invisible, physical or mental. Using the three components of Access that Hyken mentions in his book as a framework for this discussion, let’s reflect on the various ways that companies can enrich (or harm) the customer experience of people with disabilities.
Recently, I purchased Lauren Smith Brody’s The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, & Big Success After Baby (Doubleday, 2017). My husband and I just had our second child, and I was hungry for advice about how to navigate working motherhood with a new baby, even though I had done it once before. I really enjoyed all the practical wisdom, insight, and, most of all, the emotional support it offers. It contains advice on everything from how to pump on an airplane, to how to ask for a raise after being on maternity leave, to how to work at home and actually get stuff done—and it’s not just from Brody; much of the insight comes from the 700+ women who answered a 50-question survey she posted online (some of whom she then followed up with). The Fifth Trimester is for all moms, whether they work in an office, at home, or don’t work at all and just need some help finding confidence and feeling more like themselves again after giving birth and while taking care of a tiny human while running on fumes. I won’t detail all the techniques for being more productive while working at home, but I do want to highlight some of the advice Brody offers about navigating the emotional terrain of working at home after baby.
When I started my PhD program in 2012, I managed the stress of the coursework by running every morning before my classes. Running gave me a clarity unlike anything I had ever experienced, dramatically reduced my anxiety, made me noticeably more alert and responsive during classes, and kept me focused during grueling research and writing sessions. Around the same time, I started taking hot yoga classes at a local studio. I noticed that doing yoga a few days a week really helped my running: I was able to increase my mileage without getting too tired or experiencing an injury.
The consulting industry has seen considerable growth in the past decade. According to this article in The Wall Street Journal, “U.S. companies increased spending on consulting by 7.1% in 2016,” with the amount of money paid to consultants reaching $58.7 billion.
Not too long ago, The Washington Post published a report on the findings of a study Google conducted in 2013 on the most valuable traits in its top employees. Called Project Oxygen, this study examined all of Google’s hiring, firing, and promotion data since 1998. The result? Not what you might expect—and not what Google, founded on the idea that “only technologists can understand technology,” expected either: in terms of the eight most important qualities that determined the success of its employees, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) expertise was not first, second, or even third in importance—it was dead last. The top seven determinants of success were all what are traditionally called “soft skills”—communication and other people skills that require social and emotional intelligence.
Far too often, small business owners find themselves in a position where they are spending more time working in their business than on it. They aren’t able to expand or develop their organization because they are losing too much time to the day-to-day tasks that should be delegated to other employees. They miss important family experiences because they have not automated their business operations. They feel like they are chained to their organization, unable to enjoy the freedom that should come along with owning your own business.
Successful freelancers often juggle multiple clients and projects simultaneously. Without an effective organizational system, freelancers risk falling behind on work, missing deadlines, and working at less-than-desirable times to compensate for poor planning. Below are some tips inspired by chapter 6 of Rachael Doyle’s Organize Your Business—Organize Your Life (2017) to help you better manage your freelance projects.
I just finished reading Cait Flanders’s The Year of Less (Hay House, 2018), which is an incredibly moving memoir about the year the author put herself on a shopping ban, decluttered and gave away 70 percent of her belongings, left her corporate career to pursue her freelance writing work full time, and attempted to locate her authentic self—without the fillers of consumerism, alcohol, and toxic relationships.