Monday Mornings with Madison

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How to Decrease Decision Fatigue

The average person makes 35,000 decisions every day. It’s exhausting! More importantly, the quality of those decisions deteriorates the more decisions are made in a day. That’s right… making good decisions affects the ability to make more good decisions. Toward the end of an eight or 10-hour workday, a person is likely to make a larger number of irrational decisions. It’s called Decision Fatigue. Those irrational decisions can have a profound effect on business. But there are ways to decrease Decision Fatigue. Continue reading

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Self-Confidence and the Goldilocks Effect

If productivity is fire, then self-confidence is the matchstick that ignites that fire. In business, self-confidence is the lifeblood of sales professionals, a key characteristic of leaders and managers, and a crucial trait for entrepreneurs raising capital, negotiating deals and prompting productivity. But lack of self-confidence is BAD. And over-confidence is WORSE. The goal is to achieve a level of self-confidence that’s just right. Here’s how to achieve self-confidence that spurs success! Continue reading

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Ten Tips for Tackling Your Mountain, Part 2

Need to climb a metaphorical mountain in your professional or personal life? Scaling to the places where few dare to go can be unspeakably hard. Rocky terrain. Unpredictable conditions. Unclear paths. Exhausting demands. Stress. Mental fatigue. Who better than the world’s premier mountain climbers to advise on how to do it best?
Here’s how to face your biggest challenges from the world’s top mountaineers! Continue reading

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Ten Tips for Tackling Your Mountain, Part 1

At one point or another, just about everyone is faced with a mountain he or she must climb. In most cases, it is a metaphorical mountain rather than an actual one. Entrepreneurs and professionals often have a huge obstacle they must surmount. Sometimes the challenge is to achieve something that hasn’t been done before. Sometimes the impediment is a family problem. And sometimes the hurdle is a personal health challenge. While some of those mountains are unavoidable, other peaks we scale by choice. The fact that it is a metaphorical challenge, brought by chance or choice, makes it no less arduous, depleting or risky. In that regard, it is a lot like actual mountain climbing. Real mountain climbing is not a sport for the faint of heart. It is exhausting, dangerous, and expensive. Yet so many people choose to climb mountains — despite the risks — much the way people choose to start businesses, deal with major obstacles or find solutions to serious problems. Why?
Why choose to climb a mountain, metaphorical or actual? What is, for example, the use of climbing Mount Everest? In 1923, a reporter asked British climber George Mallory this very question, and he replied, “It is no use. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever.” Later, Mallory added (before he died in an attempt to summit Everest in 1924) that “If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go.” There are many parallels and life lessons we can glean about how to tackle the biggest problems in business and life from real mountain climbers. Here are 10 tips from the pros. Continue reading

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Abbreviated Skill Mastery and the 20-Hour Rule

Today’s pace of change is relentless. Processes, procedures and technologies are evolving daily. The need to stay ‘in-the-know’ and update skills is an absolute necessity, not a nicety or option. Yet, most professionals have trouble just keeping up with the daily demands of work much less carving out time to learn something new. The average business exec struggles to find the time to learn new skills.
Indeed, acquiring new skills can be a daunting proposition because learning takes time. After all, it is widely touted that it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient in any skill. That is the number that author Malcolm Gladwell cited in his NY Times best-selling book, Outliers: The Story of Success. The problem is that 10,000 hours is equal to a full-time job for five years. Few people who already hold down a full-time job can take on the equivalent of ‘another job’ to master a new skill. That is the problem. There is a deep need to learn but learning takes more time than the average working professional can devote to the task. Does that mean everyone is doomed to obsolescence a few years after college? Thankfully, the answer is no. The solution is abbreviated mastery. Continue reading

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Are You Listening?

Listening is a skill. We often think of listening as being the same as hearing, but it’s not. Hearing is one of the five senses that involves the ear. Whereas, listening is the conscious processing of all types of sounds and input – which could include speaking, music, noise, etc. — received by the ears during communication. We can hear something and not listen. Most any parent has experienced this firsthand when they give their child instructions, and the child clearly hears the instructions but cannot follow them because he was not listening.
Indeed, listening is one of the most underutilized and, in many people, underdeveloped skills. This is true of kids but it is also quite true of adults. Many people hear just fine and yet are terrible listeners. While it is never fun to deal with someone who is a bad listener, it is particularly challenging to deal with a weak listener at work. That is because at work, listening is the process by which a person – through direct interaction – gains an understanding of the needs, demands, and preferences of the boss, clients, coworkers, subordinates, and vendors. Poor listening results in a hazy understanding, which in turn leads to mediocre results. That said, if listening well so important, then why is it a skill deficient in so many? More importantly, what constitutes good listening and what kinds of things can a person do to become a better listener?
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Case Study: Giving Monday Mornings with Madison a Blog Makeover

There are many reasons why a company might want to update a key element of its brand. Marketing elements get stale. From websites to corporate newsletters to blogs, there is a need from time to time to update and refresh an element without needing to overhaul the entire brand. There are also times when a company wants to reposition itself within an existing market. As a business evolves, it might identify an approach that has more potential to connect with clients. To make the shift in order to capture new opportunities, there can be a need to rebrand one or several key marketing elements. At other times, a company might rebrand some element of its marketing as part of an effort to enter a new market or geographic area. KFC did that when it changed the look of Colonel Sanders to look more oriental when the company expanded into China. It could be a matter of differentiating from the competition or acknowledging cultural differences.
Whatever the reason, most companies eventually give one or more marketing elements a makeover. It’s a process that should not be taken lightly. This month, Madison undertook to give one of the long-established elements of its own brand a big redesign. Madison changed the design of Monday Mornings with Madison (MMWM), the company’s weekly column-blog. The masthead of the MMWM email notification — used for a decade — was retired and replaced with a new, fresh design, as was the blog itself. The goal was to update the look to reflect today’s aesthetics and align it with Madison’s expanding position as a growing leader in the real estate marketplace. Read on for a real case study of a blog makeover. Continue reading

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Turning Customers into Fans

Every company claims to offer superior customer service, or some such assertion. Excellent service is touted so often as a distinguishing feature in marketing and promotional materials that it really has little meaning. When companies with the worst record for service talk about their ‘commitment to service’, that’s when it’s sadly obvious that the term ‘great service’ has lost all meaning. Think Comcast Cable, a company that consistently tops the list of worst service providers year after year and did so again in 2017 Think Wells Fargo, also on the worst service list, who was caught creating millions of fake customer accounts last year. Actual great service – service that goes above and beyond and consistently makes customers happy – is rare and can, therefore, really be the ultimate differentiator in business. That kind of service is about going beyond the basics. It is about helping customers to not just connect with a company, but actually invest themselves in the brand.
According to Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles in their book Raving Fans, “Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans.” They wrote that over 20 years ago. Having sold over 12 million copies, their book aimed to help business owners learn how to define a service vision, identify what a customer really wants, institute effective systems, and make stunning customer service a competitive advantage—not just a “flavor of the month” program. Of course, technology and robotics is changing how we interact with customers in a multitude of ways, raising the bar ever higher on the level of service customers expect today. So what does it take for a company today to deliver a level of service so profound that it turns customers into fans? How can a company or organization lead customers to become so emotionally invested in the brand that they become raving fans? Die-hard fans? Continue reading

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How to Find Talent Today, Part 2

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, wrote that “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Regardless of what a company does, having top staff is essential to every organization. From mortgage lending to manufacturing and from waste disposal to web design, companies need good employees in order to execute. But, with the overall unemployment rate at a historic low of 4.1% and with the bachelor’s degree-holder unemployment rate holding at 2.1% in many gateway and key secondary markets, it places serious constraints on the ability of companies to grow or thrive.
According to Steven Lindner with The WorkPlace Group, “With fewer unemployed people in the market, recruiting qualified candidates becomes more difficult. Employers must now begin to consider including other tactics in their recruitment strategy.” To compound matters, a thriving economy prompts companies to expand, requiring even more staff just when there are fewer candidates available. It’s a perfect storm of decreased supply and growing demand. That’s when HR Departments and Hiring Managers must get creative with their recruiting efforts. Not only do they need new strategies for attracting and retaining talent, they also need innovative sources for talent. Fishing in the same waters as everyone else will surely produce a smaller catch at the end of the day. It’s time to try new fishing holes. Continue reading

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How to Find Talent Today – Part 1

Bill Gates once said that “The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead.” The truth is that finding the right people to fill job openings has never been easy, but he was right that it has gotten harder. With the unemployment rate holding at 4.1% nationwide — which is at the lowest level since 2000 and before that the lowest level since 1970 — it is getting harder (and may get even harder still thanks to stimulus from the tax overhaul) to find employees without throwing huge salaries and loads of benefits at the problem. And finding highly-skilled, educated and experienced talent is even harder.

Sometimes, the challenge is finding people with the education, experience and skills to fill a high-level job. Think of a CTO for a blockchain currency company. Other times, the challenge lies in finding people with a combination of skills and experience that is hard to find in one person. Think of a CMO for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that raises capital for real estate and is expanding into Latin America. Still other times, the job may require a very deep level of knowledge in a niche area that few possess. Think of a Chief Hardware Design Engineer for the Avionics department at SpaceX. Or the job may be in very high demand and it may be hard to find someone who wants to leave an existing job to take a job with a less well-known company or one that isn’t offering as high a salary or benefits. Think of programmers in Silicon Valley or Investment Bankers in Manhattan. It can even be hard to fill customary positions — such as customer service, accounting, tech support, and sales — if a company simply has a lot of vacancies to fill because it is growing. Given the today’s job market, what should hiring managers do today to find talent? Here are some ideas. Continue reading

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