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Pulsemotiv: The Future Of Website Audio Integration With Steven Kiger

TBT 110 | Website Audio


Technology leaders are always looking to improve existing tech and make things easier for people on all fronts. With this, video has been drastically improved over the years while also becoming more expensive. On the other hand, innovation in audio has been keeping up with far less cost. Steven Kiger, a Partner at RocketSource, introduces a new tool they have developed to increase user experience and engagement through audio called Pulsemotiv. Learn the different ways this innovative tool can improve your website and business with the least amount of effort possible in this episode.

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Pulsemotiv: The Future Of Website Audio Integration With Steven Kiger

We have another great tool by RocketSource and we have Steven Kiger here. He’s going to be sharing this with us. He did a session on PlatStack and told us some amazing new things that are coming out in that beta. I wanted to make sure that I captured this other product, which sounds interesting. I’m going to be checking that out as well, which is called Pulsemotiv. Steven, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me.

It may not be immediate personal productivity, but it is for business productivity of how you can enhance and stand out in the marketplace. Tell us a little bit about Pulsemotiv and what it does.

Pulsemotiv is a cool tool where you can essentially upload audio and add audio to your website. Any user that comes to your site, they can click play on the audio piece. What’s cool about the tool is we have what’s called triggered slide outs. Imagine you go to a website and it’s the founder of the company telling the people why he created the business and what’s unique about it. At a certain time cue, you can have a slide-out come up and it could be maybe a coupon. Let’s say you’re talking about a product that you have, “I built this cool product. It’s unique in this way. If you buy now, you’re going get 20% off.” A coupon slides out with 20% off. It could be a video.

What we found a lot of people use it for is you can do what we call voice triggered navigation. Instead of having a user come to the site and not know where to go, imagine having you upload an audio piece that says, “Thank you so much for checking out my site. We’re excited to have you here. If I was to recommend anything on our website, you should go here.” It’s going to have that triggered slide-out come up and that user can navigate to the next page. If you’re using analytics to look at what’s the best user flow for a journey flow for a user to purchase your product, you can guide them down that path with personalized audio.

When you add personalized context to the website, you get people to stay on your site longer. Click To Tweet

Does this plug into any type of website?

Yes. We have a WordPress plugin. If you do WordPress, it’s a simple JavaScript imbed so you can put it on any site you need to. We have a full analytics engine in the backend. Once you log into the platform, you can see how many plays that had, what percentage did they play to, did they click the slide out. You can start to look at the engagement and see if it’s working and what we can do to improve it. What we’re finding is, when you add personalized context to the website, add that personalization view or the about or the why, you get people to stay on your site longer. You get them more engaged. Ultimately, you buy products from companies and people you love. The more you learn about the company and people the more you can learn about the people that are behind the business, the more you’ll get brand ambassadors and people talking about it.

It’s making that company more personal. I love the fact that you’re so focused on things that help a business to stand out and show their uniqueness. It’s a unique approach. What was the brainstorm around that where you said, “I’ve got to do this because of that?”

Our main company is called RocketSource and we have a large blog. We have these long blog articles that are amazing and everyone should read them if you’re in digital transformation. What we found is these 20,000-word blog post, they take a long time to read. What we ended up doing is adding a TLDR I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Reddit, but TLDR stands for Too Long Didn’t Read. It’s like a cliff notes version of the blog post. It’s nice because we cut it down from 20,000 to 500 words or not even 500 words. What we thought was maybe we should add audio to that and add some personalized context with audio and tell the reason why we created this blog post.


TBT 110 | Website Audio

Website Audio: If you get people to stay on your site longer and go to more pages, your search ranking is going to go higher.


We added off the shelf audio platforms out there and people started to love this audio intro of a blog that says, “This is why we created and why we did it.” We’re like, “There’s something there.” How do you add personalized context to websites and audio? Podcasting is getting bigger and more popular. Why not add audio to websites? The benefit of audio is it’s cheap. You can record it on your phone, and you don’t need professional equipment. Video is laborious and expensive. It’s so much easier to add audio to the website than a video. It’s quicker. You can do it faster and you can change it easily. We thought it was a good time to do it.

Did you do any statistics of how many more people read the article to the end because you did the audio?

What we found is people stayed on the site significantly longer. I don’t have the percentage but ultimately, the goal is, “Let’s get people on the site longer but get them more engaged.” That has definitely worked and people start to click around longer and view more pages. Your exit rate goes down. All those things are huge factors for Google. If you get people to stay on your site longer and go to more pages, your rank is going to go higher. There’s a lot of secondary benefits to it other than the actual personalization. It’s getting people more engaged.

Steven, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about it. There’s a WordPress plugin and the site that people should go to is?


Ultimately, you buy products from companies and people you love. Click To Tweet

Is there anything else you wanted to share?

Feel free to try it out. We do a 30-day free trial still. Record an audio and put it on your site. It’s super easy to put on the site. You don’t need any coding knowledge. You don’t have to put stuff in the header or footer. You slap in that code in the WYSIWYG editor and you’re good to go. We do everything else for you. We make it as seamless as possible. It’s a platform that we’re looking for feedback on as well.

Thank you, Steven, so much for being here. We’ll be back again next time you have your next product.

Thanks so much.

Thank you all for being here. I’m happy to share these cool and fun tools are going to make a difference for you. It’s going to help you to take back time, work smarter and also play harder. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Steven Kiger

TBT 110 | Website AudioSteven Kiger serves as Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Platstack. Focused on creating digital products that improve the way we interact with and experience content in digital spaces, Steven leans heavily on his 14-year background in experiential, human-centered design.



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Discovering Productivity: An Unorthodox Perspective With Dave Schwartz

TBT 113 | Discovering Productivity


Dave Schwartz, at a young age, was able to create something from two things he enjoyed the most, horse racing and computers, but he had to work 70 hours a week for it. In this episode, Dave joins Penny Zenker as he talks about discovering productivity by killing perfection. Learn Dave’s definition of a win and the ratio you should create for yourself to determine what is a win. Dave dives into some of the rules he follows to produce productive work and how he created the structure and system that allowed him to move from 70 to a 20-hour workweek.

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Discovering Productivity: An Unorthodox Perspective With Dave Schwartz

I am excited to bring you different ways of thinking, different perspectives on how to take back time because it’s not just what you do with your time. It’s how you show up for your time and it’s about thinking and acting more strategically. In doing so, it gets outside of our box. This episode, I’m excited to have Dave Schwartz with us. He is going to give us an unorthodox perspective, and I say unorthodox because, from a young age, he combined the two things that he loved, which was computers and horse racing. Imagine that. He created a 30-year business that’s been an internet business before the internet even began. We’ve got a lot of knowledge and insight. He has a super passion for productivity. Dave, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Penny. I’m thrilled to be here.

You said something about being unbelievably organized. Tell me what you said and what you mean by that.

When I started in business 30 years ago, I produced a piece of software. It was overnight and successful, relatively speaking to where I had been before. About fifteen years in, I realized I was spending 70 hours a week maintaining the software and servicing customers. One time, I had an office with a staff. I have a virtual staff now, but my point was 70 hours a week of work is not what one calls having a good family life.

You bit off a little more than you could chew is what you’re saying?

You can do it for a while, but it’s not what you want for a lifestyle. I remarried and at about six months in, my wife says, “You’re working in all hours of the night. Don’t you think you want to join the family?”

That’s a wake-up call. You don’t want to be divorced a second time so you better.

The funny thing was, I was so much better because I always lived this life that work was the whole center of the universe.

Being a programmer means never having to say you're finished. Click To Tweet

There are a lot of entrepreneurs that can relate to that because our sense of urgency is like a curse and a gift at the same time. It keeps us working all the time because of the impact that we want to create, because of the freedom that we’re searching for so many different reasons. I can relate to you because I was in technology as well before this life. I didn’t like to leave things undone. That was the worst thing for me as a product developer at the time, because I couldn’t put it down until it was done. A lot of people can relate to that. We’re interested in hearing how and what you do now to get away from that challenge.

First of all, there’s a saying among programmers that being a programmer means never having to say you’re finished. It goes on and on. I woke up with this wonderful woman who said, “This is not how we raise a family.” There wasn’t strife, but she was right so I started to work more on a schedule. At first, I was completely out of my element. Most programmer types, we crave structure in our life. Organization’s not only in our code, but in what happens in our day. For me, the first thing I did was I still work 70 hours a week, but they were more humane hours. I discovered productivity then.

Didn’t you already discover that a little bit?


Did you dip your toe in?

As a programmer, processes are part of the system. The thing is, I took that part of productivity for granted because I’d been doing it for so long, even in the early years.

A lot of people who are reading don’t have that. They’re not in programming that’s why I’m pointing that out. Is that an important part of productivity? For people who are reading, start there, especially for people who are working from home who aren’t used to working at home. Adding structure to your day, starting and ending at certain times or having certain work hours is a big part of productivity. You might have taken that for granted as a first step, but for people who are not used to that or even creative thinkers, the structure is supportive and it doesn’t limit but will open up opportunity.

It’s interesting that you bring this up because, forgive me, but I didn’t know who you were, then I ran across your book and your TEDx Talk. I listened to some of your podcasts and all of a sudden, it’s like, “Where has this woman been?” You bring up a good point because as a programmer, or whatever it is that we do, everybody has things that they do that they take for granted. For example, when my wife and I first got married, we had a business struggle going on. Somebody had replaced our computers and they weren’t working. I was screaming into the phone. After we were done, he’s going to come over and fix them and I slammed the phone down. Because of my wife Beth’s experience with her ex-husband, she thought, “The monitors are going to fly through the windows.” I said, “Let’s go to dinner,” very calmly and she was shocked. The point is there’s one thing that a programmer learns, nothing ever works the first time.

TBT 113 | Discovering Productivity

Discovering Productivity: Most programmers crave structure in their life. Organization is not only in their code but in what happens in their day.


It doesn’t work according to the instructions that you read that tell you this is the way it’s supposed to work.

My hero, for those of you old enough to remember, is Wile E. Coyote, the guy who’s always chasing the Roadrunner. He shouldn’t be the patron saint of programmers because nothing ever works, but he never stops trying. I started to deconstruct productivity. Until this moment, I never realized the structure was given to me. That’s the impact when you’re exposed to people to know what they’re talking about. Suddenly you say, “I got that.” The most important thing is if you’re working 70 hours a week, you don’t have a business. You have a job. A big week for me would be 25 hours. If you’re a productivity person, I’m assuming people have read your book. The one that gets quoted to me a lot is Getting Things Done. It’s a great book. It puts things in perspective and you feel good, like you’re relieved, but it doesn’t solve the problem of getting things done. It just lets you feel better.

It creates an organization, a process.

A structure, exactly. That’s the way I see it. I think several things are really important and the most important of all of them is you got to kill perfection.

That’s why in my book, I talk about the productivity curve and I talked about outside of the zone is perfectionism and procrastination.

I was pathological about it. First of all, I’m a visual person. I have to have a printed version of what the day looks like.

Isn’t that a little bit of perfection?


Everybody has things that they do that they take for granted. Click To Tweet

If you need to have an exact layout of what your day looks like, that sets you up for, “If it doesn’t look like that.”

You’re right and that’s why I don’t plan. I don’t do appointments, but I have things that need to get done. It’s on my whiteboard right in front of me. Here’s the key thing. I forced myself to deal with an intentional misspelling of the day, of the week on the page that I printed.

You print Monday incorrectly so that you give yourself permission not to be perfect?

It tortured me. I thought I was OCD.

I purposely misspell things in my emails so that I can accept my imperfection and everyone else can accept my imperfection.

Killing perfection. First of all, I’m sure if you’re old enough, you know who Dan Kennedy is. I know Dan Kennedy’s stuff so well I can channel him when I need to in a whiteboard session. He said, “At some point, you have to be happy with 83% of perfect. If somebody else is doing it for you, you need to be happy with 70% which gradually improves up to about 80% as they learn what you want and what you demand.” I glommed on to something really interesting. Imagine that you’re somebody who says, “I’m going to the gym this week. I’m going to go six days a week to the gym.” At the end of the week, you found that you went for five days.

Do you know how many people would say this week was a failure? They go Monday, Tuesday, miss Wednesday, and they say, “That’s it. I’ve blown it. I’ll start next Monday.” The first thing I took is if you went five days out of six, you need to call this a win. In fact, you need to applaud yourself and then I thought, “A lot of people would only go to the gym five days anyway,” and I lowered it to 4 out of 5. The point is to ask yourself, “Here’s this task, this commitment that I’ve made that I’m going to do,” and if I only did 4 out of 5, 6 out of 10, 2 out of 3, whatever the ratio is that you think is high enough, you set that as the definition of a win. We’re so hard on ourselves, aren’t we?

You’re saying that we can have the win and then we can have over and above the win?

TBT 113 | Discovering Productivity

Discovering Productivity: If you’re working 70 hours a week, you don’t have a business, you have a job.



We have an area of celebration. The win is like the minimum because I always talk about kill perfection. Progress is perfection. That means that if we did better than we did last week, if we learn something that we can improve, if we can stop for a moment to celebrate progress, then we’re going to create traction. We’re going to continually add to it versus become a series of quitting.

If you care about what you’re creating, the perfectionist in us naturally keeps bubbling to the top. A win is okay. You strive for more than win and I suggest, “No you don’t.” I’ve got a set of rules that build my productivity to the level that it is and I’m going to give you a number. I produce at a level of 3.5x than what I used to produce at. I have this system and it is not for sale yet, but it’s the new business I’m going to go into. I have a daughter who is a braillist by trade. She does contract braille for colleges, universities, high schools, etc. I taught her the system. We met twice a week for 8 or 10 weeks and at the end of six months, honestly, I will say I forgot about it.

She was out there doing her thing. She says, “Dad, I’d like to share with you what I’ve done.” I said, “Okay.” She said, “When I started, I was making $22 an hour. Now, I make $72 an hour.” I have not changed my pricing. I have the same customers. I’m simply producing faster. That’s real productivity. That’s what I’m trying to accomplish. First rule, a week is Monday through Friday. Never schedule work on the weekends. When I say this, people say, “You have to work.” I didn’t say you couldn’t work on the weekend I said, “Never schedule it.”

Don’t set any expectations that you’re going to do that and it gives you more flexibility.

If you don’t get work done during the week, forget it. Add it when you make next week’s plan, which is done on Friday. For me, it’s Friday at noon because I’m done Friday at noon. It becomes part of next week’s plan. Part-time people, people who are doing a business who got a day job, they’re going to have a different situation, but the key point is you must have two consecutive days that are unscheduled. This is very important. About this business of, “If it didn’t get done this week, it becomes part of next week,” there are two ways of looking at this. “I have to work this weekend to catch up,” versus, “If I choose to work this weekend. I’ll be ahead of next week.” It’s a mindset. I know you’re interchanging frameworks. I use the word reframe.

Framework just means a structure. Framework is structured to work within. That’s all that is. I also believe about reframing. It’s what you focus on. In my TEDx, one of the main things that I talked about is reframing.

Reframing is important. Ask yourself this, which would you rather look at the coming weekend with? Would you rather say, “I’ve got so much work to do this weekend,” or, “If I choose to work this weekend, then I’m going to be ahead of next week?” One is extra credit and the other one feels like a penalty.

Nothing ever works the first time. Click To Tweet

I’m in total agreement that you should have that time to decide. I also believe that you need to take a break and that working through the weekend is also going to put you even further behind because you’re chasing it as opposed to thinking and acting smarter. You’re busy. You’re all over the place. I agree that that’ll give you also some distance to plan and see what needs to be done and not waste your time on a bunch of stuff that probably doesn’t need to be done.

The other thing that comes from this, for example, once you train yourself of this, I don’t work every weekend, but usually by Sunday afternoon, I’m so hungry to get a jumpstart. My target is twenty hours a week. That’s about what I want to work. Never do I schedule more than four hours of work. I’m talking productive work. The absolute maximum would be six hours in a day and I do it in terms of time blocks. People may say, “You’re lollygagging about there.” On Monday, I started my 33rd book. It went to the printer on Friday. That’s the kind of stuff that when you reframe this, you start to discover what’s been underneath all along if you give yourself a chance and you hone the system.

Another thing that ties into this as the Seinfeld calendar. The story is that Seinfeld was struggling like writers do. He was struggling with writing so he committed to getting up every single day and writing. I believe it was for an hour, but I don’t know. He just said write every day. He’d mark on his calendar with the next. After 864 days, or whatever it is, that calendar has become the most important thing in his life. That’s not what I want. I want to live a life that is not based on something on the wall determining whether or not something is important. I want my children, my family, my life to be important as opposed to X marks on a calendar. One of the important things is to learn how to stop being perfect, like the Monday thing. Also, if you’ve gone to the gym six days in a row for consecutive weeks, don’t allow yourself to go six days. All you’re doing is you’re encouraging perfection. Eventually, it gets back to that pride you take in. “I’ve done 47 days in a row at the gym.” You’re still buying back into perfection. It hurts you.

I would beg to differ in some of those things. I think that it depends on your mindset around it. Are you beating yourself up if you don’t go? If it supports you, puts you in the right mindset and you want to go every day because it is a positive routine that gives you positive results, then I would say you’re not a slave to it. You’re doing it because it makes sense for you. What I hear you saying is don’t be a slave to a habit that’s not supporting you.

A better way to say it is my personality type. I contend that there’s a lot of people with a similar personality type. We tend to glom on to perfection and suddenly it becomes the thing that’s important to us.

We beat ourselves up if we don’t meet that, then that in itself is part of the struggle with perfectionism.

Overwhelm was always a big problem for me. In fact, I gave it a name. I call it parked car syndrome. What that means is I have so much to do that I’m paralyzed.

How do you deal with that?

TBT 113 | Discovering Productivity

Discovering Productivity: You got to kill perfection.


Overwhelm is caused by not how much we have to do. We think it is, but the truth is, it’s because we have developed our own personal culture of 0 to 60. We get the car out on the road and we are pedal to the metal and we’re going 60 miles an hour, then something happens and we suddenly park the car. Now we’re going zero again. There’re two things that we need to come out of that. The first one is we need a process for getting our car back on the road quickly. Because if we are prone to overwhelm, it’s part of who we are. We need to forgive ourselves for that accept it.

I have a lifetime behind me of 10, 20 and 30-day programs. Many of them went great. What happens after I’ve been producing for 30 days? I’m cranking along and I keep going, then it’s 45 days, 58 days, and then I crash and mentally I say, “I failed again.” We wind up building our own culture of failure. For me, this was huge. The two things we need one is a process. First of all, we have to accept the fact that this is who we are. It’s not going to go away. We don’t want them to happen as often and that’s about throttling the car, the metaphor being of the car’s speed is our productivity. The first thing we need is we want to spread that out and the second thing is that when we do park the car, we want to get it back on the road as quickly as possible. Those are two different processes. There’s the throttling process and there is the process of restarting.

We’re giving people the high-level because then they’re going to join your Facebook group, which you’re going to be teaching some of these concepts.

This is a great time to be teaching and giving for free. One more thing, which is critical is, work blocks are events. When you were in school, maybe you played sports or maybe you were a thespian. The point is, there’s practice, games, rehearsals and opening night. A work block is a game or an opening night. Think of how you felt before a game or before a performance. You had butterflies. It was important to you. It mattered. That’s the state you need to be in when you sit down to work.

You said you’re visual. Do you use some picture or visual that gets you in that state?

Every morning, people in the high-tech world have a tendency to be aware of what’s called the morning stand up. For those people who don’t know, in the morning stand up, the leader of the company, organization, team or whatever stands up. I got a couple of consulting gigs where the entire company would be present in an auditorium. It was important that everybody was standing. One by one, the boss would simply go to each of the department heads. It was like, “What is the status of what you’re doing? Is it a green light, a yellow light or a red light? Give me a sentence or two to tell me where you stand.” Within 15 to 20 minutes, you’ve gone through the whole day the status of the whole company.

On my whiteboard, it says Monday stand up. Monday is misspelled and it says Penny podcast with two blocks next to it. That’s an hour. Building content for 1,000 True Fans, that’s six blocks. That’s my day. It’s not usually that simple. Usually, it’s a little more specific, but that stare me in the face. Those are events. When I sit down to work or when I’m talking to you here, my phone’s not ringing. If it did ring, I wouldn’t answer. In fact, it’s draped with a cloth so that I can’t see who’s calling. I don’t look over there and say, “I wonder who that is?” because it breaks my focus. Pomodoro is a wonderful thing, but everything needs to be tweaked.

It’s a technique. It’s where time blocking, at least to my knowledge, started. Pomodoro Technique is 25-minute segments to stay focused and then to take a break in the midst to be tracking distraction. Anybody can take a look at that. You can make it 25 minutes, 45 minutes. The key to what you’re saying is to plan out your time and to block and schedule what you’re going to be doing with that time. What’s the schedule? Stephen Covey said, “Schedule your priorities.” This helps you. It’s a method to schedule your priorities. Is there anything else that you want to share with or do you want to summarize those rules for the group?

One of the important things is to learn how to stop being perfect. Click To Tweet

The key point is, you need some time off. Schedule time off. Monday through Friday thing. If you’re doing this part-time and you want to start this business and you’re trying to get it going, you figure you got twelve hours. Twelve good hours, I can put it in a week. That’s great. Never schedule more than half. What we’re doing is creating an environment that will lead you to feel successful.

Also, provide enough flexibility to move what needs to be moved. People need to set realistic expectations of what they can accomplish in a particular period of time. To highlight what you said about overwhelm, I always say this as well. Overloaded and overwhelmed are two different things. You need to deal with them separately, just like you talked about the parked car. If you’ve got too much stuff in your car that’s weighing your car down, while you’re going, you’re going to need to throw a few things out the window or stop, drop them off and get back on the road. Using your analogy, they’re two different things. That’s what I hear you saying in this is that flexibility, giving yourself that that space. If you only book half of your time, you’re not going to be overloaded because you’re giving yourself that flexibility. That’s the biggest thing that people do is they over commit. That’s an important tip to use that as a rule of thumb.

Make sure it’s sustainable.

Thank you so much, Dave, for being here and sharing your rules and your insight. Join Dave in his Facebook group where he’s going to be sharing some of these principles and more for free to support you in your business.

Thank you for having me. This was very exciting for me.

Thank you all for being here. I know that there’s a nugget or two that you’ve taken away that’s going to make a difference for you and that’s all that matters. You don’t need to take away ten from each show every week. If you take one nugget and you put it into practice week after week, that’s huge. Whatever you took from this episode is what you needed. Thanks for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.

 Important Links:

About David Schwartz

TBT 113 | Discovering ProductivityI was born in Ft. Laud­erdale, Florida and grew up in Hollywood, just a few miles from Gulfstream Park and even closer to Calder. The South Florida of the 1960s was full of gambling in spite of the many blue laws still in effect back then. My father once owned a gambling house in Niagara Falls and was a very savvy gambler. His belief was that all males will eventually be introduced to gambling in one form or another and that it was better to win than to lose. Therefore, he set out to arm me with as much gambling knowledge as possible. I like to say that I was raised with a pair of dice in one hand and a deck of cards in the other.

I was a precocious child. It is probably safe to say that I was the only child in my 3rd grade class that could explain why there was only one way to win a hard eight and ten ways to lose or that the house advantage on roulette was 5.26%. Although teaching a young child how to gamble is not something I agree with, it certainly armed me with a different perspective on life.

When I was nine, a friend of my father’s came to visit. He asked, “Can the kid deal? I said, Sure! and proceeded to illustrate by dealing cards around the table much as any nine-year old would do.

He’s got the cards in the wrong hand!” says the friend. No, this is the way I do it, I replied.

My father told me to put the deck into the other hand and never deal right-handed again. Seven years later, when I was working my way through high school dealing blackjack at an illegal casino in Miami, I would come to understand that it is a big advantage for a blackjack dealer to be left-handed because it was easier to see the top card (before it is dealt).

Mine was not a normal childhood.

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Organized Process: The Key to Maximum Productivity With Tracy Hazzard

TBT 114 | Organized Process Productivity


Productivity is often associated with the number of tasks you’ve accomplished within a certain amount of time. Yet, some fail to see the tremendous effect it has on the quality of life. To be productive, one has to be organized, and following a process certainly helps with that. Inc. Columnist and Podcast Host, Tracy Hazzard, joins this episode to share her best practices and processes in life and business to keep everything in check and organized. She talks about how her team maintains a high level of productivity without stress. Learn the questions you need to be asking in order to break down resistances and obstacles hindering your productivity in this conversation.

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Organized Process: The Key to Maximum Productivity With Tracy Hazzard

Tracy, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me, Penny. I’m excited to be here.

I’m excited to have you here because not only are you this amazing innovation guru, as well as the podcast master, but you also are a productive individual. I know that you’ve got a lot of productivity tips and things that you do that work for you that would be great to share.

I thought you were going to call me the podcast mistress, which is the way that I approach everything. Everything is disciplined around here, so it’s funny. I seem like I’m an easy-going and cool person. I have an art and designer background, but everything has a system and a place here. That’s how we maintain high productivity and what we do and systems and processes have to come out of that.

That’s interesting. A lot of creative people probably feel that’s an oxymoron, “Structure me and put me in a box.” How did you find that out that that was essential for you? Does it stop you from being creative? When did you find out that it was so important?

I don’t think that I ever realized that I was different than the other artists and designers when I was in college. I didn’t intend to go to art school. It happened. It’s one of those things where I didn’t get into my first-choice school. Art school came up and I thought this was the rebellious thing to do.

“I’m going to get my parents. I’m going into art.”

I honestly made my mom happy because she is an artist. It’s one of those things where I didn’t realize my brain works differently than other artists. I didn’t understand that because the creativity was flowing from me. I was compelled to do that and I was that compelled to create. I didn’t think about that it was an ongoing thing but I was an organized thinker and an organized person, which made me a successful student. It made me successful in business and has given me success factors that I didn’t even realize it. That had become a basis of an underlying structure to it. I needed it in order to free up the creative thought. I didn’t realize that at the time. It’s one of those things that happened that by creating an organization and structure, I gave my mind a lot of freedom to innovate, create, to be thinking all about that, and not worrying about all these little things in the chaos of everyday life.

I hear that from a lot of people that are creatives. Once they found the structure, it created freedom that they didn’t expect, but a lot of people aren’t born with it or naturally like that.

I hate to do things twice - that is a powerful driver for productivity. Click To Tweet

I have an artist mom and an engineer dad. The two blended perfectly.

It’s those systems and structures that have helped you to scale Podetize the way that you do and be able to bring on a lot more people onto the platform because it’s already automated.

This is the thing, in April 2015, we started our first show. When we started it, we started it with an organization in mind, because I couldn’t let it derail our daily workload. We started with this organization of, we’re only going to do four interviews a month. We’re only going to have a half-day where we record all of our other shows and other content. We’re going to do it twice a month and have these blocks of time. We blocked it out because we had clients and we had other things in our core business at the time that we had to structure around. I couldn’t let it derail everything. We quickly discovered that there are all these tasks to do. If I’m going to hire people to do them, I need to be specific about hiring them to make sure that they’re efficient, so I don’t have to do a lot of overseeing. My least favorite thing is to reread things, re-listen to them and do stuff twice. I hate to do things twice.

It’s a good motivator. If I’ve recorded something and I knew it was good while I was doing it, then I’m done. I don’t want to hear it again. I got to leave that to somebody else. That’s where the drivers for me has always been this efficiency model for me to be able to do what I want to do and when we built that people looked at it and said, “Would you do that for me?” I was like, “I’ve got capacity because I hired this team, so why not?” That’s how we became and overall, that’s what we do. We look at those difficult things, the things that we procrastinate about, the things that we also spend too much time in. It gets to weigh into it and it’s not progressive for your business in any way shape or form. You deep dive into it because you’re detail-oriented and you want it to be perfect.

Those two types of things, when I look at those, those are the places where I’d say, “Here, needs to be a system or a process that’s going to go underlie all of this.” That’s how we do it. We wait and we see those points. We see crunch in our team. I have 55 employees, so probably even more. I won’t know until the next payroll, probably 60. When I see what’s going on like what we have right now, we have a high load of change requests. We look at that and say, “Our team is handling that.” Is there a better process? Do we take all change requests and put him with one person who does them efficiently and quickly or do we send them back to the original person who did the work? There’s a whole thought process that goes to how you create a process to it. It isn’t until you see a bulk of things going wrong or things being difficult or stressful on you that you know that’s the place.

A lot of people tolerate that stressfulness or problem.

I have no patience. That’s probably why.

That’s good. There’s a question that you typically ask yourself that might be different from what other people ask, that is your driving question. What do you think it would be that gets you to start this domino effect of going through, finding the problem, and automating or finding a system for it?

One of the questions that I’ve always asked whether it’s designing products or designing systems, software, and processes is, you look at that and I say, “Does this have to be like this?” That’s always the fundamental question. “Just because this is the way things have been done or the things are done, does it have to be like that?” That can be unsettling. It can make your team stressed if you’re constantly changing things on them. You have to build a culture that accepts that change in a way. Tom, my partner and husband and I did a ton of products over in Asia. They don’t change at all. They want to run the same old, ugly product, year over year. The last thing they want is me to come in and say, “We’re going to redesign this product. We’re going to do it new. You’re going to have to run a whole new machine, process, or get a whole new file you’ve never used before to make it happen.” They flip out and they will tell you, “No.” We learned early on how to push against that no and get by it and that is essential.

TBT 114 | Organized Process Productivity

Organized Process Productivity: Self-resistance is sometimes the worst in the process because you don’t always look at that introspectively.


I can appreciate the pushing against the no, so the way that that came about for me was I used to be an application developer. As I started to be that interim person between the developers and the companies that I was consulting with, the first thing that my developer would say is, “It’s not possible. No.” I was like, “No. I was there. I know it’s possible and they know it.” You know it’s possible and they’re in resistance. I do believe that resistance is one of the biggest, what’s in our way and the obstacle is the most important thing to get through when you want to be more productive. Whether it’s your resistance and procrastination or someone else’s, how do you go about getting that buy-in?

You’re right. Self-resistance is sometimes the worst in the process. You don’t always look at that introspectively and you don’t always think about that, so that’s one’s harder in the process. That’s where you get to this place of, you keep doing these things day in and day out and they’re stressing you out, but you’re not looking at them going, “We could do this differently.” Sometimes I have to step in. My oldest daughter is my Operations Manager. She’s fantastic and a great systems person. She builds fantastic systems, but she doesn’t have quite that creative mindset. Sometimes I’ll have to say, “Why are we doing this? Isn’t there a way?” She’ll say, “The software doesn’t let us do that. There’s this restriction here.” I would say, “Could we hack that and could we do this instead?” She’d be like, “How did you think that up? Yes. I can do that,” and she’s off and running and things are moving again. Sometimes we need to have that discussion between two people and a group. Imagine that.

Can I chat with them and text them?

No, it has to be live and it has to be dialogue. That’s how buy-in happens. We did a lot of FaceTime when we went over to China. We would be in with the factory beyond the floor. They’d have to talk to us about the problem. They’d have to show it to us. There’s not a lot of hiding that can they can do and their resistance starts to fall away. In the process, our excitement about something or we’re expressing what the end goal is and the result of how much better their daily process, workload, and all of these things are going to be. That’s how buy-in happens. The other thing is people want to be heard.

One of the things that you have to do in that process and that is the one thing that I do at the beginning before I start telling them what we’re going to do because, at some point, you will have to go in and tell them what they’re going to do. Before that is that you have to listen to their issues, so I usually ask them a lot of questions about what’s not working? What is working? Why do you want to keep making the same product? Why do you want to keep doing this the same way? What would it look like if it was ideal for you? Walking through those with them, they feel that they’ve had input into the process. A lot of times, for me, I don’t know how to make everything.

I have a lot of experience making products, we’ve done 250 products. There probably isn’t a material or machine I haven’t touched, but I don’t know it, someone, who’s on the line running it. They may have great ideas that might make it easier for me to design or make something that I’m doing. My ability to listen there and us having the ability to collaborate will make a better product. At the end of the day, what I found is this makes products that are more efficient, profitable, more buy-in happens and more excitement happens in the process. When people are excited, products and services sell. You’re proud of them, you tell everybody.

You made it as a team. I like that a lot of the things that you’re talking about are overcoming these obstacles and getting buy-in is how much you’re creating that collaboration with the team. If you only told them what to do, you’re going to bump up against that resistance, which is what happens in a lot of organizations. There’s not a lot of inclusion.

We think, “We’re going to have a meeting. It’s going to drag the timeline down. It’s going to be unproductive and everything.” Your job as the leader of that is to make sure that it is a productive meeting that people are listening, having input, and it’s moving forward. That’s a skill in and of itself and I’m not a big fan of lots of meetings, but I do have them because, at times, they’re critically important to this buy-in process. If you don’t get that, that will bog down your systems and you will have no ability to move your company or product design forward or any of those things that you might be working on like your app. All of those things can happen in the process. They get bogged down and they don’t happen and they turn out with a poor result. That is a part of not communicating.

Let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s hear about some of your personal side of things in the business. What are your hacks, shortcuts, and tools? If your machine was wiped, what would be the first things that you would install?

Organizing your thoughts can be a tool to make you successful in life and in business. Click To Tweet

That’s a great way to put it. The thing is, I have a busy personal life. I’ve got two young kids, a puppy, and I’ve got a whole family to take care of. We work out of our home office even though we have this many employees because we have offices that are remote, so I have to be at different time zones too. My ability to be efficient in my personal life is essential to my sanity. Otherwise, I don’t get downtime. I don’t get to read a book or do the things I love.

Sanity is important to you because you do something about it, whereas for some people not so much.

It is important to me because if I don’t operate a top-level, my team will not have the resources that they need. I won’t be able to bring in capital and I won’t be able to do the things that are necessary to keep my company floating. Nothing sustainable in the process if I’m not. I look at that as a job. It’s important. It’s critical for me to set my personal stuff in place. A lot of times, we let them go. We’re like, “I’ll skip it. I won’t read or do this.” We skip these things. What I found over time is, if I don’t read a lot of resources, listen to a bunch of podcasts, go through all these things or check social media periodically myself instead of, yes, I have a team for that but if I don’t check it myself, I don’t understand what’s going on in the world.

I don’t understand what’s happening around me. How my families are doing or should I check in with my mom? I don’t see what’s going on. This happened. I got a phone call out of the blue from my aunt and I had been checking all over the place for her. I knew her husband was going into, into some intensive care and with everything that’s going on, she found out that day that she couldn’t visit him. No outside visitors were going to be allowed care facilities. She was worried. I was grateful that she picked up the phone to call me because I couldn’t see that from what was going on social because she was posting nice things. Sometimes we have to read between the lines and check in on people and do things. I have a process by which I do that periodically.

I’m always checking in with family members over the course of a week and I rotate it. My grandmother did this, so did my Nan. She used to call me once a week. She always called. She would say, “It’s Nan. How are you doing?” “Okay, good,” and she’d hang up and I’d be like, “Nan. This phone call doesn’t cost it used to anymore. I can talk to you for longer.” It was her efficient way of dry, touch base to make sure you were okay. I got me into this place of where I felt if I didn’t touch base with those types of family members, my mom, dad, sister, and all those people every single week, I wasn’t getting a real sense of how they’re about what’s going on in my family and my community.

That’s essential and that requires sometimes, I text and sometimes I pick up the phone. It depends on what I’m getting back. I try to respond with the way that they want to be connected to. My sister is a busy executive. If I text her and touch base with her and she doesn’t send back a funny GIF or a video, pictures of her dog or something like that, I know something’s up. The next day, I’ll pick up the phone, so I know something’s not going. She’s stressed. That’s a process a connection that I’ve put into my day, even though it sounds like, “Why would you do that? That takes so much extra time. If people don’t need you, wait until they call you,” but it’s intentional.

What I’m hearing is the theme of being intentional in your relationships, in the way that you plan and run your business. It sounds that’s the theme. It’s your recipe for success. Go figure. When you’re intentional, you’re directing the result that you’re getting.

I learned from my dad early on. He would travel a lot and he was in your building oil pipelines around the world and things like that. He’s a big oil and gas executive, but when he was home, he was with us. We were the most important thing in the world, so I do that with my young girls too. When they come home from school, even as soon as I’m off calls or whatever it is, I’m going like, “How was your day? What happened? What did you learn today? What’s going on in it?” “Okay, great.” Touch base, “Go do your homework and we’ll talk later,” and we get back into it later in the evening. We have dinner and we’ll talk through that and bedtime at that’s my favorite time because I’m a night person. It’s my best time. We have funny discussions at night and bedtime will drag out for twenty minutes sometimes. It frustrates Tom to no end. He can’t stay. He wants them in bed efficient and done. He doesn’t function well at night. He’s not a night person. I’m like, “This is my time to hear what’s going on in the world and what cool, interesting and funny things do they say that pop out of their mouth.” It makes my next day even thinking about it.

My youngest was losing teeth so we read a tooth fairy book. Her big question was, “How does the tooth fairy know which house to go to and who’s lost their teeth?” She thought about it a little bit more. We talked about some ideas about how that might work. Maybe the teeth had a sensor in it. There was a creative thought process here. We ended up with a list. That was probably the most efficient thing. A list was made and she received a list in the tooth fairy goes out to the homes. I was like, “She came to her result.” This is the most efficient system, but it’s great because you start to see how their brains are working. If you don’t concentrate on that, if you’re like, “This is bedtime. There’s a routine.” If you don’t let that freedom happen to the process in it within constraints, you do want to get them to bed before they’re too overtired. That’s how I approach everything that I do. I do you meditate and listen to my podcasts in the morning when I’m putting my makeup on and cleaning up and do my hair done. That’s a process for me but a lot of it is work-related, but it is also personal growth-related. It’s my way of keeping that in touch.

Your ability to listen and collaborate is what makes a better product. Click To Tweet

There’s a lot of things in there. You listen to podcasts in the morning, I know that you’ve got a hack about how you listen to more podcasts. I’ve heard this a bunch lately. When you listen to your podcasts? How do you productively listen to your podcasts?

I told you I have no patience. That means I can’t stand the people who talk too slow on podcasts, so I learned early on to use a player that allowed me to do double speed. If you listen to me on double speed, you’d be hard to understand me. I’m not a chipmunk, but it’s still hard to understand me. You probably can only do about 1.5 times. What I would do is I would speed up the podcast and that way you can get through. You have some of the podcast players that I know and Google podcast is one of them, where you can take out the empty space. You can take out pauses. On our end, in our company, we edit those but many people don’t edit their show, so there’s a lot of this dead space in there. Their podcast player can automatically take out when there’s zero sound. It compresses it. What was a 30-minute show is fifteen minutes. I can’t get a lot more done.

It means you can listen to two shows.

Imagine that. There are people that we call podfasters. There’s a term in the industry for the people who do that. Podfasters also tend to be binge listeners, meaning that they will listen to multiple shows from the same podcast in a row. Sometimes they’ll go through an entire series. They purposely pick a show that has 25 episodes or more, and they’ll binge listen to that entire show over the course of a weekend or week. Average listeners listen to six different shows. If you’re picking up six different shows all the time, and you’re picking up new ones they want to catch up. A binge listen, podfasting way is a way to catch up on a show and add it to your repertoire if it was worth it.

My philosophy and that’s why I have to interview so many different people is we all have different tips. We all have different things that we do and so I started to do that and to listen to it at 1.5 or 2 times.

I don’t recommend it if you’re seriously trying to learn something specific like something detail-oriented. Don’t do it. The other thing is, don’t do it and multitask with something that’s not mindless. I can do that and wash dishes, or I’m fixing my hair and my makeup because it’s the same every day. It’s not something I have to think about what I’m doing at the same time. Don’t try to work and listen, it will not happen.

That’s multitasking you shouldn’t do anyway because you’re not going to retain anything.

People drive and listen to faster speeds and they also jog, run on the treadmill, bike or whatever it is. That’s the perfect time because you can get the speed up for yourself too.

It’s context-specific to what you’re listening to, what it is you want to take away from it, where you are and what you’re doing. What other productivity hacks do you have that you can share?

TBT 114 | Organized Process Productivity

Organized Process Productivity: Let freedom happen to the process.


I am an email zero inbox person.

You believe in the zero inbox? I should have figured that.

Temporarily zero inbox. The minute I shut it down, it’s down. It’s shut whatever that was that. I believe in that. Don’t get me wrong, there are still emails to respond to and there’s stuff to do. I get hundreds a day. What I do is, everything’s flagged and noted as to if I’ve got to respond to them, when I’m going to respond to them, they were immediately addressed, they were filed and put away or my favorite is, Unroll.me, which is my favorite tool. I love it. I would do anything. That is worth every minute it took to set that thing up. It’s amazing. I’m constantly doing that, and I put things in and out of the roll-up. It’s a newsletter at the end of the week, so it allows me to catch up on the things that also allow me to put the people who I don’t want to offend, but I don’t want to read their stuff either. It allows me to put them into a place. Some of my clients think that the world revolves around them and I do love that. I’ve set that tone, but the reality is, I have 320 clients, there is no way I could read everyone’s newsletter.

Maybe once in a while, you want to.

Once in a while, a headline catches my eye through the newsletter and I’ll stop and check it out or I’ll periodically do that. That helps me keep up but not have to be inundated.

Do you use another type of tool within your email like Sortd or any of those others that help you to determine if there’s follow up CC that will send it away and send it back to you when you’re going to work on it? What are those?

I’m a fierce filer. I address something. I file it or I move it. I file it or I flag it. I still file it, so it’s not in my inbox. That’s the key for me. I’m fierce about that, but I don’t want to overcomplicate the whole way that it works. All my sent mail is always there. The Sort and Find on your email is super useful. I don’t understand the methodology of the people who are like, “I have to keep all them. I saved my saved and I move them.” I keep my saved and I archive them with everything else, so they’re always there. When I need to search for something, my follow up is going to be there, so it’s automatically going in the same folder.

My responses are always there. Everything’s always there. When I do it from my phone, which I rarely respond to emails from my phone unless they’re urgent, I CC or BCC myself. That’s the only time that I do it. I try to keep all my email in one place. For me, that’s productivity. If you’re constantly interrupting me on my phone, that’s not doing me any good. I don’t even love text messages, but people will text me. I don’t even love them because I have a hard time tracking them and following up on them. With email, I know I can do it and things won’t slip through the cracks.

That’s an important thing for people to think about is how are they using each of the tools. I’m talking about that to a lot of corporates with people working from home with the coronavirus. It’s like, “When do you use chat and does that make sense?” It’s less structured. When do you need to follow up and you need a more structured environment to be able to handle those requests, to dues and things like that so that might go into a different type of platform like email or project management?

Don’t multitask things that require your focus. You won’t be able to retain anything. Click To Tweet

That’s a huge thing. We have our big team and our team works 24 hours a day. There’s rolling going on it is hard to keep up with. I do have a rule that if they need me to do something that’s not immediate like they need an immediate answer, they cannot chat me, they have to email me because otherwise, I won’t remember that it’s in the chat because there are hundreds of little chat messages that go through and you lose it. It’s the same thing with texting me. Unless you need an immediate answer, don’t text me requesting something because I’ll forget about it. That’s our rule about it. Chat is for something immediate for getting immediate answers.

Email is for something more long term or a more report-like type follow up. We use WorkChat from Facebook as a part of our team. We chose that because it was easier with the team because so many people were on Facebook already. It made an easier interplay. We had been using a bunch of different programs over time but the problems for us were files are in different places so everything was consolidating. This works directly and links to our Dropbox. When there are files to look at, it’s an easily follow through on that. We do utilize it as a team, but it is our sole place for immediate response.

We have a feed you do on Facebook and the feed is used for us being able to acknowledge people and do more of, “So and so reached their anniversary,” “It’s your birthday today,” or “So and so became the Employee of the Month.” It’s an acknowledgment placement or a mass announcement. We made announcements that we were sending out masks, gloves, and things to our teams around the world, so they were all getting care packages, essentially. They all knew that was coming, so they all needed to update their address with the system and make sure we had it right. It’s those kinds of announcements. That’s how we utilize it, so everybody understands how properly to use the different places. When they don’t, that’s when it gets messy for all of us.

For a lot of companies, they don’t have those definitions. They don’t have those systems and structures and it comes back to that. I don’t even care whether you’re a big team or even a small team. I remember when I was starting in my technology business and we were only three people to start out with. You think that it was so easy because you’re all there. There were so many communication issues because we assumed that each other knew and, “You heard me on the phone,” but no. They were working and their attention somewhere else.

My team knows that I do not hear anything in the office. I have a great ability to shut out everything. You could even talk to me and if I didn’t look up and acknowledge you, you’re not talking to me. They know that. We always operate in that mode and because I’m married to my partner, my business partner. If we did that, we’d spend the entire free time we had talking about work. What we got to is this comfort zone of, “If I need to know about it, you’re going to tell me about it here on the chat. If I need to do something, for you’re going to email me and asked me to do a task for you.” Otherwise, we’re trusting that the other person does it and it’s on top of the things. When we need to have a meeting or discussion, we will have it, but not in our free time. Not that we don’t talk about work, we don’t have a restrictive. We learned over the years because we’ve been working and married for a long time and on and off over the years we’ve worked together. We learned over time that to be restrictive and say, “After 5:00 PM we can’t talk about work anymore,” or we’re going to go on a date.

It’s too tight.

It’s too strict restrictive for creative people because of the creative process and innovative thinking happens at any time. We do have a sensitivity and understanding between the two of us that when I’m not in the mood or he cannot handle one more word, I said, “After 9:00 PM not good.” We know not to talk to each other at those times. We know to bring it up again at a different time. Other than that, we don’t have that restrictive level, which gives us the freedom to not talk about work a lot because we don’t feel we got to cram it in.

That’s a key thing for people that work together. It’s set some rules and boundaries and I want to bring this full circle to what we started talking about. You said that you talk to people about what’s working and what’s not working. It’s basic, simple things to do is to step back and ask those simple questions so you can use that to come up with rules, boundaries, guidelines, and systems that are going to support you and your organization.

Those are the two critical questions. You have to ask yourself all the time, too.

TBT 114 | Organized Process Productivity

Organized Process Productivity: Productivity helps you do the things that you love and not be burdened with the stress all the time.


I asked myself all the time. That’s why I asked you, what question do you typically ask yourself? That in itself for people to realize what question they’re asking and whether that’s productive for them or unproductive can also be a huge shift in their productivity.

I have a life coach Michelle Young, who’s amazing. Michelle always says, “How’s that serving you? How’s that working out for you?” When you use that excuse side of things, “This is stressful,” but the minute you say that in there, her response would be, “How’s that working out for you?” That’s what you need to keep reminding yourself. Push those multi-layers of questions on yourself and is that acceptable?

Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you wanted to share before we end the episode?

People don’t realize sometimes there is comfort. They think organizations as restrictive. Productivity is this thing I have to do. The freedom that you get on the other side of being able to think about things, of having all this weight off of your mind to be able to do the things that you love and not be burdened with the stress all the time, that is ultimately valuable. I pack more into my day than most people do in a month and I’m okay with that because the systems that I have in place don’t make me feel that it’s a burden on my brain, heart, or soul. It’s finding those for yourself. Don’t be afraid of those organizational things and also don’t be afraid to say that one’s not working for me do ones that feel right for you.

Awesome. Thank you so much. Where can people find out more about you, your podcast, and the other avenues of what you’re working on?

You can find out a ton about us on Podetize.com big podcasts are Feed Your Brand and The Binge Factor. I also have a podcast for product designers called Product Launch Hazzards. There’s a bunch out there. The best way to do it is to google my name. It’s Tracy Hazzard and you’ll find a ton of content.

She’s out there. Awesome. Thank you, Tracy.

You’re welcome. There you go.

Thank you all for being here because what your goal and your aim is how can you take back time? That’s the name of the show, and you’re going to take back time through systems and organization. The next step is yours. My name is Penny Zenker and this is Take Back Time. We’ll see in the next episode.

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About Tracy Hazzard

TBT 114 | Organized Process ProductivityTracy Hazzard is an Authority Magazine, Inc. Columnist, co-host of 4 top-ranked podcasts including Feed Your Brand –one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts, and founder of the largest podcast production company in the U.S. As a content, product, and influence strategist for networks, corporations, marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, publications, speakers, authors & experts, Tracy influences and casts branded content with $2 Billion worth of product innovation around the world. Her innovative Podetize method and platform, provides businesses of all sizes a system to spread their content marketing message from video to podcast to blog, growing an engaged audience and retaining valuable platform authority without a lot of time, cost or effort.

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Creating New Patterns Of Habits And Identity With Dan LeFave

TBT 116 | Creating New Habits


Our habits create our level of productivity and become our drive to success. Today, Penny Zenker talks with Dan LeFave, the “No Excuse” Shortcut to Success Coach and a mindset engineer. Along with creating new habits and identity, Dan shares how you can transform your life and even saving time by becoming more productive and getting inside the habit gap. Don’t miss this episode to discover the strategies and tools he uses for creating new patterns of habit and identity that drive anyone to succeed.

Listen to the podcast here:

Creating New Patterns Of Habits And Identity With Dan LeFave

I am here to discuss some important things about how you can invest your time in a better way and look at the habits. We’re going to get inside the habit because it’s those habits that create our level of productivity that drive our success. We have a habit expert with us. Dan LeFave is here and he is the “No Excuse” shortcut to success coach and mindset engineer. Since 2012, he’s helped entrepreneurs to cut the time that it takes to succeed and to reach their goals in half the time and boost their productivity at that time. He’s been featured in national publications, including business magazine and Success Profiles Magazine and interviewed on radio shows and podcasts from New York to the UK. Dan, welcome to the show.

It’s great to be here, Penny. Thank you.

Dan, the habit guy. We all have habits. The question is, if we’ve been having a habit that we’ve been engaging in year after year, maybe it’s a habit we’ve had for 10, 20 years, how do we change a habit like that?

The first thing is that we have to recognize that there’s something that we’re doing that is uncomfortable. We might not call it a habit. If we see the same thing over and over again, that is a clear indication that we are repeating some pattern and it’s a habit.

Anything that we repeat is a habit.

In your videos and interviews, we are habit bearing creatures. We can’t help ourselves. We start doing something and then it becomes natural. Commuting is a habit and we do it.

Not only that, but you know what’s funny? It made me think of this. We sit in the same seat too. If you get on a bus, you get on the train, or if we’re on a classroom, we sit in the same seat. We are creatures of habit.

Do you know what it comes down to? It’s comfort. The interesting thing we’re having in this conversation which is, many people are uncomfortable. They’re locked in their houses. They can’t get out of there. There’s so much of this discomfort, which is what we need. Habit is all about comfort. It’s what’s familiar. Also, know this, our habits are based on what we know what’s relevant and that’s our past. We do what’s familiar because then we can predict our future. We know how we’re going to feel if we sit in that same spot and we do the same thing over and over again. We know it’s predictable. It’s comfortable. I see it all the time. My wife does yoga and people come in to do yoga at our house. You always see somebody showing up early, why? They want the spot. Familiar, comfortable, they’re in the corner and nobody’s going to crowd them.

TBT 116 | Creating New Habits

Creating New Habits: Productivity is how much free time you have with your family.


In my work with Tony Robbins, he talks about that we have these seven human needs and one of them is certainty. It gives us certainty to know that we’ve got that spot or that we can estimate what’s going to happen in the future.

One day something happens and we’re like, “That didn’t feel good.” I had an awakening where it took me on the path to where I am, which was, my wife is having a second child. I was working for an organization that allowed parental leave. In fact, our first child was born and I didn’t even know about the parental leave. I took two weeks’ vacation and worked the whole time. That was a habit. I was often on my computer. That second child, I was talking with the HR department and I found that they’ll give me 36 weeks with almost 100% pay and I was like, “Don’t say anything more.” I took it. At the tail end of that 36 weeks, did I ever have an awakening? In fact, I emailed the HR and I was like, “I have some vacation. I’m going to top it off, so I don’t have to come back until the New Year.” It was eating at me and I was like, “I’m commuting three hours. I’m away from my family.” That’s not a good investment.

It caused something to awaken inside of me and that’s where I started asking friends and my friends were, “What do you want?” I said, “I don’t know. I want to be inspired and be with my family.” They said, “We’ll pray for that.” I did and then that led me on a path of meeting people like Dave Blanchard of Og Mandino organization and Bob Proctor, hiring him to coach me. A whole string of events because I said, “I don’t want to do that anymore.” In fact, I went to another job because my vibration said, “I’m not happy.” I got recruited. I went over there. They paid me a lot more money and it’s fantastic. Within three weeks, that probationary period, they invited me to the boardroom and said, “It’s not working.” I knew and I felt it, but I didn’t know and I admit it. Anyway, I went home and I turned my life around. That was a real awakening because I was like, “Three hours a day of my life everyday times five days a week, it’s fifteen hours a week away from my family, that’s not for me.”

Think about how many hours, that is a year. That’s a job in itself.

That’s what I’m talking about. If we recognize our habits and especially if something irritates us or bothers us, we have to take note of it. I always say that thoughts become entangled as they pass through your lips and over fingertips. That’s why I suggest writing things down. When something’s not going, write it down. Sometimes you might take that marker, hold it and carve it out on the whiteboard or your dry erase marker. Don’t use permanent. Get those thoughts out, because once you get them out and you look at them, it’s like a little mind map and it’s like, “This is going on. I don’t like this. This is not working out. This is feeling uncomfortable.” That’s an awakening right there. It’s like, “That’s a habit or a practice I’m doing that isn’t working and I have to do something different.”

How do we do that? How do we identify the habits that aren’t working for us and the habits that are because some habits are good and we want to continue those habits because they’re supporting us and others aren’t? How do we define the difference?

You have to get irritated and agitated enough to change a habit. Click To Tweet

It comes down to how we feel. We have to be aware of how we feel and not everybody is quite tuned into that. You have to be aware that when something happens and it might not be during. I think of it like this, you don’t tell an alcoholic, “You’ve been drinking.” They’re like, “I’m not drunk.” Sometimes you have to go through the emotional reaction that you might have because you’re repeating a habit. Afterwards, you have the revelation and you’re like, “Okay, wait.” I suggest you journal it. Write down how are you feeling, what the thoughts were, and then that helps you pivot. You need that pivoting. If you don’t have a pivot or some rude awakening like my father, he goes in the hospital to take out his gallbladder and they say, “You got to quit smoking. You’re going to kill yourself.” Cold turkey, he quit. Why? Because the doctor gave him that bit of evidence that said, “You got to change.” If we see the evidence ourselves, then we have to do something about it. We can’t say, “That’s happened again and I’ve seen it many times. I feel horrible.”

It’s not only how we feel because a lot of people who smoke don’t want to quit smoking. You said evidence-based. I call it, we have to get in relationship with our results and I think that’s what you’re saying. It’s how do we feel but also, how do we feel about the results that we’re getting? My kids would tell you that playing video games all day feels good. If it’s at the impact of something else, if you take a look at the cost and the cost is your grades declining or not having friends to engage with or something, for them. For us as adults, are we getting the results that we’re looking for? That’s what shook you up. You were noticing that you were away from your family and it’s that result that shook you, that evidence that you were spending more time away from home.

Also, I projected into the future and then I started thinking to myself, “Where’s this going to lead to? Am I going to grow up with my children? Are they going to value me as a father?” I started asking these deep questions as I start getting noes and irritated. That’s the whole point. You have to get irritated and agitated enough to change a habit. Nobody creates a New Year’s resolution and then hits the gym, hardly anybody does that. In fact, I used to teach spinning at the gym for twelve years. I would be in people’s face. I would sit there on a spin bike and I would say, “I bet you will not be here in three months.” I had to be that way because I saw it time and time again when people come in. I couldn’t say, “Keep it going.” It’s like, “I bet you won’t be here.”

It’s that challenge and that push. What you’re saying is that it’s what is costing you and you looked into the future. For everybody who’s reading who thinks that there’s a habit that they might think that it’s not serving them, look into the future and see what it’s costing you. See if you can afford or if that’s what you want for your life to take on those costs. You’re right. That usually creates that energy that says, “Not another day. I have to change this now.”

TBT 116 | Creating New Habits

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)

The words that usually come out is, “It’s enough,” or “I’ve had enough.” As soon as you’ve had enough, then guess what, that’s enough of a push to get you moving and then you have to find the thing that pulls you. I found the thing that was pulling me, being inspired to be with my family. The push was commuting and investing my time and energy and getting to a space where I didn’t even need to be. I could do it remotely. It takes that little edge, that little nudge and as soon as that happens, then you start to pivot. You’re going to have to grasp onto something. That’s where people grab on to, a personal trainer or a coach like you and I or somebody that can show them the path that says, “I’ve been here before. I’ve done this before. You could come with me and I’ll take you along.”

That’s why it’s a shortcut to success. You know the path to guide them down and that way, you can get them down the path faster.

I don’t study everything about psychology but the special thing that I focus on is, I find out how quick people are willing to move and then I subtly make adjustments because my interpretation is that beliefs are strongly rooted. I can’t tell somebody, “This is what I do. You do it.” I have to make them suddenly understand something and then maybe get a vision or a fantasy of what that looks like. Also, plant a little seed, get them doing a little step at a time. One of my clients, Brad, he wanted to break $1 million in his business. He also wanted to get his health where it needed to be. He took 36 pounds off as a result of rearranging mental furniture and that was unexpected but amazing.

That’s the path to success, shifting those beliefs and getting into action. Let me ask you, in habits and as they relate to productivity, what’s your definition of productivity and why?

My definition of productivity is how much free time I have with my family. That’s for me because I have young children under twelve. I have three boys. I measure it based on how much free time I get to spare with them or to enjoy with them. I measure that daily. I write that in my journal and daily basis or track it so that I can look back on it and connect the dots and say, “It’s a great day.” Why? “We took a walk in nature. We played some cards at noontime. We played cards later,” whatever the case may be. That’s my definition because family is important to me.

You’re intentional about creating what’s important to you.

Yes, and blocking time off. My noontime is a combination of meditation. It’s something for me, but then some game time with my family. We’re doing walks because it was nice out and they can get on their skateboards and so on. That’s the thing, doing something they enjoy so they can reflect back. There’s something I teach in my book, which is all about reverse engineering your life, which is all about how do I want to be remembered by my family, my children, my loved ones? If I could create little memories each and every day, that’s going to compound and become a big memory one day and I know that. It’s the incremental moment by moment things that I focus my attention on.

I was at the funeral gathering for a friend of mine’s father. What struck me about what everyone said, people went around the room to share a memory of him. That was clear and motivating. They all talked about the level of presence that he had with each and every one of them and how they felt that when they were together, they were the only ones in the world. He made them feel special because of the presence that he gave them. It shook me in it and it shook my boyfriend up to think about, “What is it that we’re creating? How will we be remembered? Are we intentional about that?” That is an important and valuable question to ask before it’s too late. We can set forth how we want to be remembered and how we want to show up but we must be intentional about it because there are many distractions everywhere.

To that point, it’s about what we value and what we identify it with. I identify with what I call the five F’s, which are faith, family, friends, fitness, and finances in that order. I make faith, family, friends, fitness and then finances important. I don’t make finances the engine of my train. I make sure that those are the part is for me and my identity. I know what my identity is because I focus my attention on it and I intentionally live my life. It cost me 2.5 hours a morning to do that.

It’s an investment. It’s not a cost.

Some people may think it’s a cost. It is an investment but also, I own my morning, I own my day, I own my life and that’s how I approach it.

There are a lot of entrepreneurs who are reading and a lot of people like yourself that were in this habit of going to work and spending a lot of time and traveling. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that if the person is loving their job and doing what it is. If they feel a slave to finance, finance makes all the decisions for them. I know a lot of people feel that way and especially with the stress of small businesses with the shutdown of the Coronavirus and everything. People are even more stressed around what’s happening with finances. What advice would you share with people on how to deal with that?

The key is, it’s the moment by moment choices that we make and how we invest our time. I’ve heard you say it in your TEDx Talk where you talked about. We’re habitual beings. It’s a question of, what are we doing with our thoughts? I would say, at least get your morning under control. That’s a minimum. When I say that, it doesn’t have to be what I do. I do 2.5 hours of practicing and that’s reading, writing, setting intentions, physical exercise, walks in nature, yoga, and breathing. It’s taken me years to get to that. I would say, at least own your morning. Take the time out to get yourself physically, mentally, emotionally prepared for your day.

We must be intentional about how we want to be remembered because there are distractions everywhere. Click To Tweet

There are many practices and books out there. The Miracle Morning is a great one by Hal Elrod. Do something that maybe is 15, 20 minutes at first and then maybe it’ll grow. At first, you want to do something that’s physical. Get yourself prepared mentally for your day. I even suggest preparing for your day in advance. Set three intentions the day before because overnight when we shut our conscious mind down, our subconscious mind percolates and marinates over what we set our intentions on. We’ll dream about it and maybe wake up with some solutions or ideas. The day before, set some intentions. The day you wake up, look at them. Think about what that is.

Maybe write some ideas around about that, that you’ve dreamt about or thought about or woke up with and then do something. Always have water as soon as you wake up. We dehydrate while we’re sleeping. I have this bottle. It’s ready for the morning. I have that bottle full. First thing, I don’t guzzle it. I drink it. I have a gratitude journal and I have another journal. It’s a bunch of things that I’ve practiced over the years. Also, in the morning practice, you should find some time to be grateful. Think of the things you appreciate and are grateful for. When you appreciate things, it draws things towards you because you’re appreciating them. If you don’t appreciate your pet and then they run away from you.

What you’re saying about win the morning, win the day is critical because we set the tone in the morning. Everybody who’s reading, I want you to think about it. If you’re the person who hits the snooze button first thing in the morning, what’s the first energy that you’re creating around your discipline about what you want to create? Start your day in thought, in action, and in intention. If you set the alarm for a time, wake up at that time. If that’s fifteen minutes later than when your alarm normally goes off, then set it for fifteen minutes later. I like your idea of setting three things to be intentional about, include gratitude and anything that sets your mind up for the energy that you want to create that day.

Get your focus because otherwise, the world is going to be whirling around us and things are going to come. We will be in reaction mode because that’s what happens when things come at us, we respond and solve problems naturally.

I’m sure everybody can appreciate that, all day firefighting.

Instead, set your day up for success and own it. Own your morning and your day. As you go throughout your day and you realize the things that you intended to do start happening and that’s where I say look for the evidence. You then see the evidence and then you’re like, “That’s relevance.” Once we have relevance, that’s a memory. Next time we go to do something, we won’t be nearly as frightened about it or holding back, we’ll say, “I’ve done this before. It felt good. It might work again. I’ll do it.” It’s like running a marathon. I started off with 5, 10, 20 kilometers.

It builds. That’s the traction that it creates. I remember you saying that you’ve got a free gift for everybody. What is that gift and where can they get it?

It is some work that I’ve done on and researched about 7 Time-Saving Secrets. I found these to be the best. They’re about how you can get a little more control or leverage over your time in your day because it’s a moment by moment choices. If we’re 70,000, 80,000 thoughts a day and habits, we’re not getting inside of a habit yet, we’re repeating these habits over and over again. The 7 Time-Saving Secrets is at DanLeFave.com/savetimenow. You can grab that for free. It’s an awesome tool. It’s a report. It gives you everything in it. If you put one thing into practice, I guarantee it’s going to change your life. These are things that I’ve pulled out of the internet or I’ve read off some books. I researched, tested them. I’m in my own little lab here. I do experiments all the time. I’ll test it for months on end. I’m unique that way or weird.

You’re passionate about it. You got to get inside it. That’s your thing. Get inside the habit, understand it from the inside out.

A simple solution as to how you can save time and get inside the habit gap because people are like, “When am I going to create new habits?” I say to my clients, “Do you go to the bathroom?” A rhetorical question. They’re like, “I do.” I’m like, “Good. You must go 10, 15 times a day possibly.” “Do you have a dry erase marker?” “Yes.” “Let’s go in the bathroom. Let’s write some words on that bathroom mirror that matter to you.” I use an affirmation that relates and probably needs to solve or something. That’s getting inside the habit cap. Sooner or later, they’ll be like me. They have whole phrases and statements that they can say to themselves that become a pathway in their mind. That’s neural pathways. We have to pave them.

TBT 116 | Creating New Habits

Creating New Habits: Asking effective questions tunes us into what we want and gets us pivoting and moving in that direction.


I say to my kids, “You see that path there where the rabbit’s going? It wasn’t like that before, but it is.” That’s how it is in your mind once you keep paving over it with thoughts and words that matter. Simple things, sometimes it’s, “I love myself. I like myself. I believe in myself. I trust myself. I trust in perfect timing.” Little statements like that because nobody’s going to say those to us. Give ourselves that little edge by giving ourselves the thoughts that are paving pathways that we can travel on later on in our life. Those would be our new habits and then we’ll enjoy them. We’ll say, “This is fantastic. I do love my life and I love myself and everything in it.”

Those are fundamental statements that drive us and getting inside what we value and making it into practice.

It might even create new identities for ourselves. Our identities are based on our past, but that’s a predictable future. How do you create a new identity? You start crafting one. Some people are open-minded. Some of my clients, I say to them, “Lady Gaga created a character for herself. Bono created one.” How many people do you know in the world that created characters? I said, “If you’re open about it, let’s create a character for you and let’s become that character.” Sometimes that works.

You said you like to find new things that help you to save time and be smarter, work smarter. What are the go-to apps that you use that you think, “These are the things that if my computer were wiped and I had to reinstall everything, these are the apps that I would I would install?”

There are definitely two of them. One that I use for creating new habits and for measuring how things are going in my life is called HabitBull. You can create five habits in there without paying a dime. That’s a nice bonus. If you go over, pay the $20. It’s awesome because it has a nice little calendar on it where you either push it and it’s green or you hit it a second time and it’s red. It’s an easy way to measure. The other one is Todoist. It’s an awesome app that I use because I plug in my intentions and my goals for the day and I have it linked to my calendar. It automatically blocks off time. I do it the day before. Nobody can block off time or ask me for that time. Todoist is awesome for that. It’s also project-oriented. I can manage my project, my tasks, and track my performance. Those are two that I would use because they’re shortcuts for me.

Is there any other shortcut that you use, whether it’s a mental shortcut or something like that, that you feel is a driver for your success?

I ask myself effective questions. Nobody thinks about that too often, but I have many. Asking the questions, “Who am I? What do I want? What do I know? What do I need to know? What are the opportunities I have for me?” They turn on what’s called the reticular activating system and it’s going to seek out and solve the problem. That’s what we are. We’re heat-seeking, problem-solving mechanisms. Unfortunately, that’s our makeup. Asking those questions every morning, you don’t have to ask all them. If you ask, those are good enough.

If you like the other ones and if you even want to go deeper, you can say, “What simple steps can I take to achieve the goals in my life?” As soon as you start asking those questions, it gets your mind tuned in and turned on and looking for the opportunities to solve this. Most people don’t do it. Effective questions are not asked. A book that came out by Mark Victor Hansen, Ask!. A friend of mine interviewed him. There’s a great book called The Aladdin Factor, which is all about asking and that’s Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, it’s the same thing. I’ve read that book multitudes of times because they plugged it into my head. Asking effective questions tunes us into what we want and get to pivoting and moving in that direction.

Set your day up for success and own it. Click To Tweet

It shifts our focus. It gives us a director and helps us to hone in on it. Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes of it coming up with the right question.” Having the right question and not necessarily the right answer, it’s about getting that right question because that’s going to help you to move forward and solve that problem and create that direction. I believe in that. I have certain questions that drive me. Another Tony Robbins thing that I remember when I was working with Tony was, we all have a primary question. One question that when we dig down deep, that’s one question that we always ask that drives ourselves. Once we get clear on what that question is, we can see if it’s serving us or if it’s limiting us and then we can look to move and switch that question, identity shifting in a way. The questions are huge.

When we start asking questions, we tune into the solutions. We end up causing our change by nature. We have to do it and do it a little bit every day. Deepak Chopra was the one who planted in my mind, “Who am I? What do I want?” He said, “Ask two questions every day.”

Reinforce who you are and who you want to be and what you want. That’s perfect.

As you dial in and you become this other version of yourself and I call it a better version of myself. That’s a question I ask, “What can I do to become a better version of myself?” If I didn’t do anything, maybe it’s some other day. At least I can say, “I did something.” Playing games with my family, that was something. Taking a walk, that’s something and I journal about it. It doesn’t cost me a paragraph. It cost me two minutes. It’s little. I’m creating my biography and my journals so that I can look back one day and say, “Those are little incremental things that I did.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said that eventually, we wake up to a banquet of consequences. Most people don’t think about that. I think about our mind is being a GPS and our thought is compounding. We better do something with that potential. Einstein said, “The same mind that caused the problem can’t solve it.” We have to be looking at things differently and from a different angle. Bob Proctor even taught that, he said, “Walk around the table. Put that piece of paper, that problem, in the center of the table and walk around to the left side and ask, ‘What do I do from here?’”

It’s like when you look out a window, “What do I see?” Each angle that you look out the window, your view, you see something else. One side, you might see a tree. On the other side, you might see a part of a car. You’re going to see something different every time you look at it from a different perspective.

Next thing you know, we start seeing solutions and evidence. We get relevance, more courage and more confidence. We step forward and we create new patterns of habits and new identity if that’s what we want. We go through our lives and when we get to the end of it, we realize, “I did leave a legacy. I did some great things.” People in hospice, there are five things that people regret and one of them was they didn’t take risks and do the things they love with their loved ones. That’s number one.

Is there any last thing that you want to share with the audience?

It’s getting inside the habit gap. People don’t realize that they have time. That time is when you’re driving, when you’re getting groceries, when you’re in the bathroom. Tony Robbins calls it no time. We have all sorts of no time, but we don’t realize that there’s no time and we don’t use it. We have to use it. Bring your headphones with you or whatever it might be. As I’m working, if I’m not talking to anybody, I plug in affirmations and things all the time. My subconscious is listening. I don’t have to focus on it.

Your conscious mind might block it out, but your unconscious mind is listening.

It’s eavesdropping, listening in. I give it little bits of information every day and next thing you know, I’m realizing something new. I can’t tell why, but I can usually attribute it to something I did.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your ideas. Tell people where they can go to pick up your free gift.

It’s DanLeFave.com/savetimenow. Honestly, we need to get control of our time. We know we have it, we need to take the initiative and do something.

That’s why this show is called Take Back Time. Thank you all for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Dan LeFave

TBT 116 | Creating New HabitsDan LeFave is the “No Excuse” Shortcut to Success Coach and mindset engineer. Since 2012, he has helped entrepreneurs cut the time it takes to succeed and reach their goals in half and boost their productivity. He’s been featured in national publications including Business Magazine and Success Profiles Magazine, and interviewed on radio shows and podcasts from New York to the UK.


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TextExpander: Saving Precious Time With Jeff Gamet

TBT 115 | TextExpander


What would you do with an extra 50 hours? Saving precious time, TextExpander lets you instantly insert snippets of text from a repository of emails, boilerplate and other content. In this episode, Jeff Gamet, a TextExpander Evangelist talks about saving time through TextExpander and how he became an Evangelist for it. Get to know how Jeff and his team use TextExpander not only to speed up their productivity but also to save precious work hours to work on more productive things.

Listen to the podcast here:

TextExpander: Saving Precious Time With Jeff Gamet

I am excited to have Jeff Gamet with me. He is with TextExpander. He is a TextExpander Evangelist and quite a productivity expert, I might add, in my many discussions with Jeff. He’s been making and expanding snippets for years. He’s also a podcaster, public speaker, writer, and a technology fan, which is no surprise since this is based off of a technology. Jeff, welcome to the show.

It is great to be here. Thank you for inviting me on. It’s great to see you.

It’s great to see you too. Didn’t you use to work with a magazine that used to evaluate different types of tools?

Yes, but before I worked with TextExpander, I was the managing editor for the Mac Observer.

You know tools and choosing to come to TextExpander says a lot for what you think about the tool, I would believe.

When you spend as much time as I did, as a technology journalist, it’s easy to get jaded to a lot of the apps, tools, the products that are out there because you see – many things come over and over in different forms. To be excited and enthused about an app or service, it has to be good. That says a lot about TextExpander for me, the fact that I used it for years. When they were looking for an evangelist, it seemed like a perfect fit for me.

I have to say that TextExpander is one of those apps that if my computer went down and I lost everything, it would be one of the first apps that I would reinstall. That’s why people were bringing this to you because this is an absolute must-have, no-brainer. What I love about it is that on a weekly basis it sends me how many hours I’ve saved. That is always a good feeling when I’m like, “Yes.”

Being able to look at those statistics and see how much time I’m saving is great. It’s interesting for me because I’m working in the company. We’ll share our stats with each other and I thought that I was expanding a lot and saving a lot of time, but then I saw what our support team does. There’s no way that I can expand as much as they do.

I can’t wait to hear some of the things that they do with it. That’ll be interesting. I’m writing that as a note to myself, to talk about your support team.

It’s a critical tool for our support team.

I know it saves me about two-plus hours, depending on the week. How many hours does it save you? The reason I’m asking you that too is, I set a goal for 2020 that I want to help people to save 220,000 hours. I’m getting that launched and started to be able to track. TextExpander is going to be one of those tools that are going to help me track for people because I’m going to introduce them to it and along with other things and I want to be able to track and say that at the end of the year, I was part of helping people save 220,000 hours.

I have saved typing 1.19 million characters.

That’s a lot of characters.

I’m under 50 hours saved.

For what time period?

I am looking at a couple of months.

Probably since the beginning of the year? Is that what you’re thinking?

Yes. I’m up to almost 50 hours.

That’s huge. What would you do with an extra 50 hours? You’d figure out something to be able to do with it. If we took that, that’s one quarter, multiplying that by four, it would give you 200 more hours a year, which is huge.

I’ve already saved a full work week of time in one quarter.

That’s awesome. That’s a huge testament to the tool. Let’s talk to people about how to best use the tool. You said that the time that you spend doesn’t even compare to the savings that your support team does. Let’s talk about how your support team is using TextExpander. Maybe I’m jumping the gun. For people who don’t know what TextExpander is, can you give them a high-level overview of what it is and what it does?

You have to type all the time. There are a lot of things that you type over and over. Take all of those things that you’re typing repetitively and put them in TextExpander and then assign abbreviations to each of those things. When you need to type, whatever that is, on a basic level, your name, your phone number, your email address, stuff like that or complex forms that you need to fill out web forms that you fill out repetitively, it could be pretty much anything.

Maybe to add here some of the things that I use it for, I send my bio out a lot. I have three different versions of my bio. I have those each listed. I have certain marketing things that I send out on a regular basis or I might put into a LinkedIn connection with somebody and those different types of things that I use over and over again. Marketing messages, diagrams of what my program is that I’m going to be doing, in one quick hashtag, it’s there.

It’s great being able to type something, a little abbreviation, and watch it expand out into a word or paragraph or a contract or a form that automatically fills itself out. 

Developers and IT people can put the command line stuff they do repetitively in TextExpander. Click To Tweet

People might say, “I want to customize things for people because it seems generic if I have the same blurb for everyone.” Tell them how that’s handled in TextExpander.

Here’s a snippet that I show in some of the webinars that I do. It’s a snippet where the idea is, you’ve been to an event, you met someone that has another product. We’re going to share products with each other to learn more about what each of these products are. Here’s a bunch of stuff you can do in a snippet without having to spend a lot of time cutting and pasting or anything. You can customize something. I can fill in a blank and make this more personalized. You need to type in product names and people’s names, things like that. Let’s say that we met at a conference. I can say, “Hi, Penny.” Let’s make up a whole new product for you. I can’t wait to start using your new product. There’s more than TextExpander. There’s PDFpen and PDFpenPro.

How cool is that? You can drop-down lists and things like that so that it becomes easy to customize it.

These green blocks of text, these are optional. I can include them or not. I’ll uncheck the one that I don’t want and I’ll click OK. I’ve created a whole email that’s customized and personalized for that specific person. All I had to do is a couple fill in the blanks and a pop-up, a checkbox, and click OK and I have this whole message.

What about images and things like that? Somebody might say, “I want to make this look a little fancier.”

In this case, there’s that graphic you asked for, but I took it up a step. This also includes a hypertext link with a signature.

There’s a huge amount of flexibility with different elements that can be added.

It’s easy to customize the content that you’re making with snippets so that it fits whatever it is you want to do, as opposed to trying to use, let’s say, a macro and having to deal with whatever that is and then have to go back after the fact and edit that. You don’t have to do the editing. You can have the fields that you want to fill in and use and make it all happen when you’re expanding that snippet.

Is there anything else that you want to show us that would be something that people could take advantage of?

How about something with dates? A date is the thing that people use a lot.

I didn’t do this yet, but I started to do a test, but I didn’t finish it. You can create meeting agendas and things like that that are somewhat dynamic. Is that right?

Sure. You can set up a snippet that does pretty much anything you want. How about if I make a snippet real quick?

That’s good. With dates, like you said.

Let’s say that I want to have an email that starts off with someone’s name. I’ll say, “Hi,” and then I’ll set up a single line field. We want to have today’s date in here. I can go to my date menu and pick the month and then the day and the year. “It was great meeting you today.” I gave it a quick little abbreviation. If I expand that out, I have a place where I can type in your name and that date popped right in there.

That’s the way that you can use dates. It’s easy to create a snippet. Is there anything else that you wanted to show us there? I also wanted to then go into how your support team might be using it, workflow and team use.

As long as we have this open, the snippet we made, how about if I put that signature into it that has the graphic so that we don’t have to type that manually? I can go to my keyboard menu and I’ll choose insert snippet. I remember the abbreviation for that. To make sure this work, I have to change my content type to format a text picture, because that signature has a graphic in it. It didn’t work. That’s what ends up happening when I try and do something.

You did a colon instead of a dot.

This one is semicolon. Let’s make sure I have that set up right. I must have had a typo in it and didn’t catch it the first time. I was able to reuse a snippet. The nice thing is, if I ever change anything in the snippet that has a signature, it’ll automatically be updated in the original snippet that we made. That’s the whole email.

Huge advantages to working with templates. Other than saving time, what are some of the other big advantages?

This gives you a way to make sure that you’re not making mistakes. For example, the phone number, if I have to type my phone number all the time, there’s the likelihood at some point, I’m going to type it wrong.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spelled productivity because it’s one of those words that’s hard. I need to have that in here because otherwise, I’m going to misspell it. I am a little bit quick to do things and I’ll hit send. This way, it gives me some assurance that I know what I’m sending has been proofread.

Speaking of typos and misspellings, there is a public group that we have that you can subscribe to that has many common misspellings. What happens when you have that group installed, when you do the typo for the word, it automatically corrects itself.

I didn’t know about that.

If you go to TextExpander.com/support, you’ll see an option in there for public groups. Look for the TidBITS AutoCorrect group. They’re free. You can subscribe to it. It’s automatically added to TextExpander for you. It’s thousands of words that have common misspellings and those have all been turned into snippets, so they autocorrect for you on the fly.

TBT 115 | TextExpander

TextExpander: If you have a little bit of coding understanding, you can take JavaScript snippets that other people have written and work with those.


You’ve got a lot of different categories. It enables you to set up different categories.

These are groups. I have several groups that have created for myself. I have some groups that other people have shared with me. We have a lot of groups that are for TextExpander as a company. I have those public groups that I’ve subscribed to, like the TidBITS AutoCorrect. This is a crazy long list of words.

That’s going to already save me. I’m getting that.

This is one of the snippet groups that has helped boost me up to 49 hours saved already.

With these groups, you can have company snippets. You can have team snippets. That also helps you with time-saving, fewer mistakes, and branding issues, to make sure that if your company, if you have people who are marketing, the common message is getting out so that you’re consistent.

This is also a place where our support team has found to be incredibly valuable because the common support questions that come in, we can have those answers set up in TextExpander. If something changes, maybe a procedure changes with a software update and there’s a new way to do something, we can have one person go and update the support snippet for that answer. Since we’re using the team’s version of TextExpander, everyone that’s using that snippet, automatically has the new content. They don’t have to worry about going and manually updating their snippets to make sure that they have the right content and the right answers to give to our users. It’s there for them automatically and you don’t even have to think about it.

What I love about the tool is that it works across all of my applications. It’s not like it only works in email. It’ll work in all of my applications.

If you can type, that’s where TextExpander will work. There is one exception and it’s an important exception. I’m glad it’s there and that’s if you’re using a password manager, which you should be. Your password manager will block TextExpander while it’s doing its thing.

That’s fair enough. I haven’t tried it on that. There are other tools for that.

If you’re using a password manager, be aware, that’s a thing. That’s not a bug. That’s a security feature for you.

Is there anything else that you wanted to share here around these groups and team use?

I realized that this could give me an opportunity to show you something else that I do with TextExpander. I’ve set this up for websites that I go to commonly instead of using bookmarks. I have an abbreviation that I’ll type and it gives me a window where I have my URL TextExpander.com, then a pop up for the path on the website that I want to go to. It takes me to that page. The great thing is that I’m not having to keep tons of bookmarks for all of these different pages that I go to. I can have the main URL and a pop up with all the other locations. Public groups, select that. There are some nice autocorrect groups in here. The one that you’re looking for, the one that’s going to be the most inclusive is the one from TidBITS, which is an online publication that’s been around forever.

Star Trek quotes. It is funny, the things that people have put as the public groups.

Star Wars quotes.

It’s funny that you scrolled by and it said, quotes. I haven’t check out these public groups. I’m going to do that. I was also thinking about quotes and how quotes would be a good thing to have that you can bring up at any particular time when you wanted to access that, whether they’re your quotes or famous quotes.

Shakespeare’s quotes.

Quick question for you in that, let’s say in my email, I wanted to have a footer that has a quote, but I want that quote to change every day, how dynamic is TextExpander to do that or to include two options? Can it do that? If not, can it include in that pop-up list another group so that it would be included that at least I could choose it from that group?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is, it depends on how automated you want this to be. If you want it to have a group of quotes and you’re going to be adding and removing different quotes over time, you could set those up as snippets. After that, have that nested and then choose the ones you want in that parent snippet. Since you’d be changing the nested snippet over time, then that’s changing on its own for you and then you choose the one you want. The more automated answer would be, you set something up using JavaScript. The reason I’m saying use JavaScript is because that’s cross-platform. You can use it on Mac and Windows. If you’re using a Chromebook with our Chrome extension, you can use it there too. Otherwise, if you’re on a Mac, you could do it with AppleScript. Let’s say JavaScript is for cross-platform compatibility. Set up a JavaScript that is randomly selecting these quotes for you. It’s hyper-automated. You expand your snippet and the JavaScript will do the part that grabs the quote for you.

What if somebody doesn’t know what AppleScript or JavaScript is? They’re not a programmer, they don’t know how to do that stuff and it would be the select from the group that’s provided.

You would select from the group that you’re making yourself. There are options.

There are developers that you can hire to do that snippet for you with a JavaScript and then it’s there for you.

If you have a little bit of coding understanding, you can take JavaScript snippets that other people have written and work with those.

I’m a total hack like that. I have enough developer background. I can do that. I’m going to play with that.

There is a snippet group that I subscribed to that is my Lipsums. This is a JavaScript. What it does when you expand the snippet is it creates Lorem ipsum, gibberish filler text for you. There’s something like this, you can look at this and figure out enough if you’re comfortable and happy with other people’s scripts.

Anything that can help you organize is going to help you do it more efficiently. Click To Tweet

It’s not for everybody. For those people whose eyes are rolling across and have passed out, please don’t worry, you don’t need any of this. TextExpander is the easiest tool to work with, with new plugins that we talked about picking the first name, picking a field or adding the date easy. This is for your more advanced user who wants to play around a little deeper.

That’s the long version of the yes for you.

Is there anything else that you want to tell us that we need to know before I ask my final questions that are away from the tool itself?

It’s like you got a mini webinar. I suppose I’m throwing a pitch out here.

That’s okay. Throw your pitch.

We do free webinars every month. I do two beginner webinars a month. Some months I’ll do an advanced webinar as well. We’ll throw-in other webinars throughout the year. We have these webinars where you can come and learn more about using TextExpander and they’re free. Show up and you get an hour of my time where I’ll show you a bunch of stuff. You can ask questions.

If you are doing command-line work, if you’re a developer, IT person, then the command line stuff that you do repetitively, you can put that in TextExpander as well, which is cool. There are a lot of support teams in companies. They have a help desk system that they’re using like Help Scout, Zendesk or something like that. They are supplementing their support answers with TextExpander because all of the systems will let you put some text in so that you can have some canned responses. I don’t like using that word. How about if we say, “Compared responses?” Those are fine, but a lot of times you need to have more flexibility. They’ll augment what they’re already doing with TextExpander.

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge in TextExpander as a tool. What are the other apps if everything were to shut down? Are there any other apps that you’d say, “Those would be the first things that I would install on my computer.” TextExpander is one of them. What would another 1 or 2 be?

The top three apps that I have to have to be able to function are TextExpander, 1Password and Dropbox. Once those three are installed, then I can start building out everything else. My next tier would be, I have to put PDFpenPro on so that I have my PDF viewing and editing tool and then Slack because that’s the standard communication platform, not just companies but there friend groups and special interest groups that are all in there. I have switched from using Chrome as my primary browser to using Microsoft Edge.

How come you switched?

I switched because Edge is performing a little faster for me than Chrome was. Microsoft is taking some efforts to make Edge do less tracking of your activity than Chrome does. That seemed like a good thing to me.

Thank you for that. I appreciate it. Anything else you want to share before we close down?

This is cool to get to hang out with you and talk about cool apps and productivity.

Geeking out together.

Now that I’ve tossed out some of the apps that are must-haves for me, I’m curious, what are your must-have apps?

I shared with you last time we spoke, but I’ll share it with the group here. I did an interview with somebody who was involved with Platstack. I have to say, that’s one of my new favorites because Platstack helps you to group, organize, and share your link. If I’m working on a research project and I’m doing a new presentation on a different topic or I want to look for some stats or create an infographic or something like that, I may go and look at several different sites as resources. As it would have it, maybe I’m not able to finish that in one session. I’m able to shut everything down, to put it into a Platstack into a group or even in subgroups of that and then I can open all of those links at once. I could say, “I want to get back my research on some promotional marketing thing that I’m researching.”

I hit the button and maybe ten resources will open up automatically. That saves me a lot of time in getting my desktop organized. It’s a digital organization. That’s become one of them. TextExpander is one of them. I’m not huge into a lot of apps either. There’s a few that you need to have and that’s pretty much it. I also use Dropbox for sharing and communication. I use Google Forms. I use a lot of, not that I need to separately install that but when I’m doing my automation projects, often I’ll have somebody come and fill in a form and then I’ll take that using an integration tool like Zapier. I’ll have that form brought into a whole workflow process. I also use different types of tools like Trello to manage different types of lists.

Trello is cool. I thought of two other apps that I have to install all the time.

What’s that?

One is OmniOutliner from Omni Group. It’s an insanely powerful outlining application.

When you say outlining, you mean like Mind Mapping? That’s one of my core ones, Mind Mapping. Is it a Mind Mapping tool?

It’s a literal outlining tool. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s powerful that when I started creating an outline for the book I wrote several years ago, I did it in OmniOutliner. I had written a book in OmniOutliner.

Anything that can help you organize is going to help you do it more efficiently.


TBT 115 | TextExpander

TextExpander: TextExpander works across all applications.


I don’t know that one. What’s that?

It’s a calendar app. It’s for Mac and iOS. It ties into the calendar database that Apple is already making. It gives you an easy to use interface from the menu bar. It gives you natural language control over creating events. You could use some of that in Apple’s calendar app, but this goes beyond that.

I’ll check it out. I use Apple. Jeff, thank you so much for being here. As usual, it’s awesome. I’m happy to geek out with you anytime.

Thank you for having me on. I am happy to geek out with you anytime as well. This has been a cool package because we got to talk about productivity stuff, which I love. We got to talk about other cool tech stuff that I love as well. This is an awesome package deal for me. Thank you.

Thank you. We’ll have you back and we’ll talk about something completely different. I know that you’re passionate about productivity. I know you’ll have some additional tips for people as well.

I am in. You tell me when and I will be here.

Thank you all for geeking out with us. Some of our shows are a little bit more technical, tool oriented, some are mindset oriented. Whatever it is, we’re here dedicated to help you to be more productive and to work smarter. My name is Penny Zenker and this is Take Back Time. See you in the next episode.

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About Jeff Gamet

TBT 115 | TextExpanderJeff is Smile’s TextExpander Evangelist and has been making and expanding snippets for years. He’s also a podcaster, public speaker, writer, and technology fan.



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Good Leadership: Putting A Little Love With Steve Farber

TBT 109 | Good Leadership


The point of good leadership is not and has never been creating a dictatorship where leaders rule as tyrants with iron fists. Radical as it may sound, the principle at the core of good leadership is love because if you allow that to drive the way you work and function, everyone around you will feel it, and the results can be astounding. Penny Zenker interviews bestselling author, popular keynote speaker, and seasoned leadership coach and consultant Steve Farber to answer the question, “What puts love at the core of good leadership?” There’s a lot to unpack, but Penny and Steve guide you through the thought process that led to this conclusion, and how it can help you as a leader going forward.

Listen to the podcast here:

 Good Leadership: Putting A Little Love With Steve Farber

On this show, we are hosting the greatest leaders, entrepreneurs, and gurus that are going to help you to take back time. What that is for me is to help you to think and act more strategically. I’m excited to have a good friend of mine here, Steve Farber. He is listed on Inc.’s Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts in the world and number one on Huffington Post’s 12 Business Speakers to See. He is a bestselling author, a popular keynote seasoned leadership coach and consultant. He’s worked with a vast array of public and private organizations in every virtual arena and may I add. He’s a darn good singer and guitar player with that. He’s a former Vice President of legendary management guru, Tom Peters Company, and is the Founder and CEO of The Extreme Leadership Institute, an organization devoted to helping its clients develop award-winning cultures and achieve radical results. The institute’s team has helped over 25 companies earn a ranking on the best places to work list. I can go on and on but I want you to hear directly from Steve himself. Without further ado, Steve Farber.

Thank you, Penny. It’s great to be here with you. I’ve been looking forward to this.

I saw you speak and I loved the message that you had to share. Also, I added in there you’re a great guitar player and singer because that surprised me how much of yourself you brought to your speaking. Tell us the foundation of why is your book called what it is that Love is Just Damn Good Business? Why are you in love with love?

There’s a specific reason why I chose to title the book, Love is Just Damn Good Business. It’s because love is just a damn good business. I’ve been doing this work but this work, consulting and leadership development and that entire thing and in the business world. I’ve noticed a few things along the way. I don’t claim to have it all figured out certainly. The most striking observation that I can offer to people in any business is that as uncomfortable as we are in using the word love and business in the same sentence, it is the foundation of what great business and great leadership are. It’s odd, ironic, tragic, or something that we seem to resist the idea that makes us the most successful.

It’s interesting, I was thinking, there’s an expression, “It’s business, it’s not personal.” What do you have to say about that?

Everything’s personal. I understand the rationale behind it. If I have to fire you, for example, I’m not making a personal judgment necessarily on who you are as a human being and your value as a person. You may not be a good fit for the business. It could be that I have to cut back. In that sense, it’s not a personal affront to you, but everything is personal. We take everything personally because it’s us, it’s our lives that we’re living and what we do at work and what happens at work and in our careers is a big part of our lives. It’s all personal. If we choose to acknowledge that, then it leads us to an interesting place. What is it about the experience of working and the experience of doing business with a company, let’s say, as a consumer that on a personal level affects us the most in the most positive way?

To me, that simply comes down to love. If I’m a customer, I love doing business with you. I love your product, your service, the combination of the two. I love the way you respond to my needs. I love the way you fix things when they go wrong. I love the way you offer me solutions. The problem is I didn’t even know I had until I see your solution. That’s where my loyalty is going to come from. It’s a personal thing. Internally, if I love working here if I love the people I’m working with and I believe in what we’re doing, I’m going to bring myself more fully to my work that’s personal.

It’s not that we have to get beyond this idea that somehow, we categorize and compartmentalize our lives into there’s work and there’s other. We play different roles at work and home. We do different things most of the time but we’re the same person, DNA and the same internal organs. We’re the same person, so why not acknowledge that and take advantage in a positive way of this wonderful component that we have as human beings that connection and experience are important to us. Why not be able to love the time that we spend in business?

Love is the foundation of great business and leadership. Click To Tweet

It brings more joy and makes everything better. Some people might be thinking, what does love have to do with productivity, love in your business? What does that have to do with productivity and taking back time? How can you put it specifically for people? They’re clear, why this is important to the productivity of their business?

It’s an interesting question because the question itself belies the underlying assumption that we make, which is that love is somehow other than productive. To answer your question directly, if I love the work that I’m doing, the people that I’m doing it for, the people on my team, I’m going to be more productive because I feel a greater sense of responsibility to them. A higher level of commitment, a greater level of accountability for getting things done. If I don’t care about this place, this is the polar opposite. If I’m disengaged, I don’t care, I’m apathetic, whatever, then productivity is simply only going to happen as a result of somebody pressing their thumb into my back and saying, “Either produce or you’re out of here.”

That’s not effective. You might get a short-term result, but in the end, you’re not getting engagements in the long run and people end up leaving if that’s the way that it’s run.

You may get a result singular, but if you want results over time, plural, then that comes from people being committed and commitment and love are close to related to each other.

I was thinking of as you were saying that is when we’re in love, time goes away, we’re in the flow. When we can work and time can go away in the context of we could spend 8, 12, 14 hours doing whatever it is that we’re doing and loving it, enjoying it and bringing value to it that’s the ultimate. That’s what we’re looking for. If love is putting us in that place and is part of flow, then it’s productive.

I flashed back on this, maybe I’m the only one that ever had this experience in school, but I remember sitting in some God-awful high school class and watching the clock, waiting for that bell to ring. I understood even when Einstein meant by time is relative because it was freaking slow. On the other hand, if you love what you’re doing, it flies by. Interestingly, I never thought about love before as a way to take back time or to change the nature of it, but that is in essence what it does for us subjectively.

I wanted to make sure people like, “What? You bring somebody on and talk about love. What does that have to do with productivity?” I want to make sure that they understand my way of thinking here.

The framework that I offer in the book Love is Just Damn Good Business and I’ve been teaching this, is do what you love in the service of people who love what you do. That’s the credo behind this whole thing. If you break that down into its elements, doing what you love is the foundation for it. It’s your heart connected to your work but that’s not where it stops. In business, society, families and the communities, it’s not enough for us to be doing what we love. We got to be giving value to other people. Do what you love in the service of people. That’s the business context for it, as well as the moral and ethical context. If all I’m doing is what I love and I don’t care about the impact of that on anybody else, as long as I’m getting what I want. That’s another way of saying narcissism. I’m doing what I love in the service of people and I’m serving them in such a significant way that they reciprocate. In other words, they love me in return.

TBT 109 | Good Leadership

Love is Just Damn Good Business: Do What You Love in the Service of People Who Love What You Do

Let’s talk about that. What if they don’t?

We need to do a better job for one thing. If I’m doing what I love and I feel like I’m serving you and the feedback that I get from you as a customer, for example, is that you don’t love what I do. I do Net Promoter Score with you or some other measurement of that, and then I have something to learn there. I might think that I’m serving you in a way that you’re going to love, but you’re not and not responding that way. I need to learn from that and change it. Ultimately, we want our customers to love what we’re doing for them. That’s where our competitive advantage comes from.

If we love, we want to learn because we are in service. You’re taking that love and saying, “It’s nurturing. If this isn’t what you want, then let me change. Let me adapt. Let me bring it differently.” I feel that’s part of love is being flexible and meeting somebody where they’re at and adding that additional value. 

It comes back to your question about productivity. If I’m serving you, one of the ways that I can measure that is how productive am I being? Productivity, innovation and creativity, these are all different facets of the same gemstone. If I’m innovative and creative doesn’t matter if I can’t execute on it and get it done. If I want to serve you, I’ve got to be firing on all cylinders, hitting all facets of the gemstone, firing on all gemstones. Pick your metaphor. That’s what it comes down to. This is applicable in every aspect of our lives. I intend this discussion and the book to be geared the business people, this is a business practice. Operationalizing love in the way that we do business is where our competitive advantage would come from. If it’s a nice to have or it’s soft California touchy-feely hoo-ha crap, what’s the point? I’ve been around for a while. I’m not making this up. I didn’t come onto this in a vacuum. It’s based on a lot of observation with a lot of companies, a lot of individuals who get phenomenal things done in profitable ways because they have found a way to answer the question, what does love look like in the way that I do business? If I could show that to my customers, the chances are good that they’re going to stick around for a while.

Let’s answer that question. Give us an idea and an example of how do you operationalize love for business?

First of all, let’s talk about the nature of the word because language is important. It’s also a little bit limiting. I don’t want to get caught up in semantics. First of all, understand that we use the word love in a lot of contexts and to describe a lot of different things. We use the word interchangeably, even when the experience is not interchangeable. For example, I love pizza and I love my wife. I love them differently. One I shouldn’t love and one I should but I still use the same word. It’s describing something familiar to me. The key to this is that people will self-describe the experience is something that I love. If our clients say, “I love doing business with you.” It’s true for them. They may have a different interpretation of what that means or how they would define it, but they still describe it the same way.

It’s an emotional connection, we can say that.

It’s a positive emotional connection. The question then is what should that look like? We can answer those thousands of different ways. I’ll give you a couple of examples. This is probably an example that I shared when you heard me speak because it’s my favorite case study. There’s a company called Trailer Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida. I love this example because they don’t stereotypically fit the mold of a company that would be operationalizing love. They are not a particularly glamorous business. They’re a shipping company. They ship goods from primarily Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic. They ship barges of goods. That’s what they do.

Don’t you think that people that stand around and hold hands and sing Kumbaya? Is that what you’re saying?

They get damn close as it turns out but only an analogy. Let me explain why there’s such a great example of what we’re talking about. The backstory on Trailer Bridge is that they’ve been around for many years and their history it’s not the healthiest, let me say. They were, in fact, a toxic place for many years, terrible customer scores. They were the low-price option because people weren’t coming to them because of their service, they were coming to them because they were cheap. They were cheap because people didn’t like their service. It’s one of those vicious cycles. They had lots of turnovers. People couldn’t stand working there, and ultimately, they went bankrupt. When they came out of bankruptcy, they burned through four CEOs in two years. The place was not a healthy place to work.

Mitch Luciano took over. He was tapped by the board to turn the company around. He agreed to do it because he believes in the company. He believed in a lot of the people there. Not all of them, but he believed in a lot of them. He loved the place and what they were capable of doing. He told the board, he said, “I’ll do it, but I don’t want the title of CEO because people are burned out on CEOs. I have to earn that title. I’ll be President. I’ll earn the title of CEO. When these folks are ready to call me the CEO that’s when I’ll take the label.” Sit was symbolic right from the start. Mitch’s whole idea was this, to turn this place around, first of all, we have to create a culture and environment that people love working in. We want our customers to love us and therefore do business with us, be willing to spend more money with us, talk about us to other people. They have to love it. We have to make this a place that people will love working in. He went about answering the question, “What would that look like?”

Let me ask you this question, did he already have a connection with you and is this something he came up with on its own or had you worked with him before? Did he grow into this or discovered this? 

When you say you 'love' something, there's a positive emotional connection. Click To Tweet

Mitch was a fan of my books. He had read The Radical Leap was my first book. The Radical Edge was book number two. Greater Than Yourself was my third book. Love is Just Damn Good Business is number four. He had read The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge, Greater Than Yourself. The common theme throughout all of these and through everything that I do is that our role as leaders in business people is to cultivate love, to create an environment that people love working in. Love is a powerful business principle. I’ve been saying that for years, The Radical Leap first came out in 2004 to give you an idea of the timeframe. I had not yet met Mitch, but he was a practitioner of my work. I learned about this after the fact. He went to his board who were investment bankers and bottom line guys, private equity folks, that usual thing. He said, “I’ll take the job, but I want to take the title of CEO and you guys have to let me do what I want to do because this is going to be different from what you expect because I’m a love guy.”

Did he say that? Did he say that directly, “I’m a love guy?”

I don’t think he said those words but that’s what he was thinking. He said, “I got to make this a place that people love working in.” What should that look like? He did any number of things. By the way, he gets squirmy when I describe it as this is what he did because it’s all about what we did if you ask him. He’s a humble guy, a great leader and a hardcore business guy. He’s a bottom line-driven guy, but he understands that’s not where you start. He said, “I want to create an environment that people love working in.” What does that mean? It means the people that work here have to know each other.

It’s basic. If I love my team, that means I know the people who are on my team. I have a connection with them. I know about their families, I know about their aspirations, I know about their challenges. He said, “That’s not happening here.” He got granular about what he should do. Here’s what he did number one, it was a company of 160 people, and traditionally they all wore name tags, “Hello, my name is.” He said, “What the hell are we wearing name tags for? We’re 160 people. We should know each other’s names.” Let’s start with that.

The first thing he did was a little bit symbolic and practical. He got rid of the name tags. Think about what that meant for him as the leader of the company. He had to learn everybody’s name. It started to change his connection with people because he knew their names and that blew them away. He’s saying, “You need to know each other’s names too and we need to get to know each other.” They lived in cubicle city, floor-to-ceiling partitions everywhere. People that had worked together for years rarely saw each other even when they’re sitting right next to each other. He lowered the heights of the cubicles that people could look at each other.

He encouraged his management team to get out of their offices where people were holed up all day long and get out and mingle with folks and get to know each other. He looked at other aspects of the physical environment. He created a break room, a communal area, ping-pong tables, foosball tables. He borrowed that idea from Silicon Valley and all that. Every Thursday and they still do this. They bring in a food truck, they park it outside the office building, they invite everybody, they buy lunch for everybody so they can all eat together once a week. All of this to get people to know each other. As they got to know each other, lo and behold, they got to like each other.

As they got to like each other, they realized how much they love working there and the dynamic of the environment started to change. All by answering the question, “What should love to look like in this building?” At the same time, they were looking at their approach to their customers and he encouraged his team to show, to prove to their customers that they’ll do anything to make them happy. That’s because they love them. There are thousands of examples and it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but lots of examples. One thing they did that struck me is they got granular. They went right into their policies and procedures and they looked at some of their longstanding protocols. One of them being they would not ship a barge out of the dock until it was at least 75% full.

If they shipped at less than 75%, they would lose money on the shipment. If you look at it from a balance sheet perspective, it makes perfect sense. Can’t do that because we’re not in the business to lose money. They turn that on his ear. You’re the customer. You’re shipping a car to Puerto Rico for your family. You tell them it’s going to be there on such a date. It doesn’t sail. They don’t get it. The reason it never got there is that the company tells you they didn’t sell enough space, it’s still sitting in the dock. They asked the question, “If we loved our customers, what would we do then?” The answer is obvious. You would ship. Even if you lose money on that shipment, you will still ship because that’s what you said you would do.

TBT 109 | Good Leadership

Good Leadership: It’s odd, ironic, and tragic that we, as a society, seem to resist the idea that makes us the most successful.


That’s what they started doing and it goes on and on. Fast forward to the punchline. They’re always at least 98% to 100% full when they ship. If you trace that down, why is that? It’s because their customer service is great. They have fantastic customers. Their turnover has dropped significantly. Their best recruiters are their employees. They’ve ranked number 1 and 2 Best Place to Work in the City of Jacksonville two years in a row. The revenues of the company have exceeded the previous 25 years of the company combined. All by answering the question, what should this look like? It’s not enough to say, “Let’s love everybody.” We love our customers and print the banners on the buttons. If that’s true, what would we do differently around here? I love that example.

It comes from the behavior.

Observable behavior on every level, on a systemic level, on a policy level, on an interpersonal level, in a physical environment, everything.

That shows how operationalizing love is productive because it’s going to increase engagement. I’m sure people were not sick as often. Those are things that cost the organization fewer mistakes, more customers. It’s core to productivity.

The takeaway from that is whatever business you’re in for those reading, start with that question. If we loved our customers, what would we do differently? It’s a powerful question. The traditional question is to pull your team together and say, “What can we do to improve our customer service?” Which is a great question and it’s going to yield some good ideas. If you ask the question in the other way, how can we show our customers that we love them? It raises the bar. It raises the standards and the quality of the answer is going to be different because we have something to reach for. This idea that somehow love is soft and squishy and it’s counterproductive is insane.

To add my thing there to what we talked about is it makes it more emotional both for the people delivering it and the people receiving it. Not only is it up the bar, but because it’s more specific and it touches an emotional aspect. The answers are going to be different versus clinically what can we do to make?

By the way, not emotional at the expense of the clinical and the rationale, it’s both ends. I understand why this idea is this going to yield greater profitability, let’s say. I also care in the way that we do it. I also love the idea. We’re not sacrificing emotion for a reason. We shouldn’t be doing it vice versa is what we’ve done. In business, we’ve sacrificed whatever the opposite of that was. We will pursue reason at the expense of an emotional connection. We want to do both.

That’s critical and leaving people with something simple, which is one question that they can ask is extremely powerful. Break that down into taking your executive team, take all the teams in your organization and have them answer that question. It’d be exciting to see what they come up with. 

Whatever kind of business you're in, you have to know what you can change to show you love your customers. Click To Tweet

We have a great time at The Extreme Leadership Institute and helping companies to do that thing. We have some clients that we’ve worked with because if you think about what is required, it starts with that simple question. It’s what are the implications of that on everything we do for the people that we hire and the way that we hire them? How we do performance appraisals? How we reward people? What our physical environment looks like, our HR policies? All of that can be impacted by that powerful question. When that starts to happen, the results are quite extraordinary.

When you want to get there and you want to get there faster, you work with people who’ve already done it and are experts in it. How do we find out people who are reading more information about you, The Extreme Leadership Institute or any of the other amazing programs that you have? 

There are two major websites, SteveFarber.com is where I live. I’m also the Founder and CEO of The Extreme Leadership Institute. Jenna Lynch is the President who’s quite brilliant. She’s brought 28 companies out of the best place to work list in her career. That’s ExtremeLeadership.com. You can learn about what we do there. We started our Love is Just Damn Good Business Podcast. We’re excited about that. On social media, I’m all over the place. If you can remember my name, you can find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all the usual haunts.

Let me ask you one personal question right outside of the love driving the core of productivity, but as a leader yourself and managing the multiple businesses that you manage and whatnot, what are some of the key strategies and tools that you use to be most productive? 

I’m more productive than I give myself credit for. If you were to ask me to list my characteristics and qualities as a business guy would not be at the top of the list.

Do some things work for you? That’s all. We’re sharing tips here.

What I’ll tell you is that when I’m clear on why we’re engaged in whatever we’re engaged in? Why we’re doing a new project or why we’re launching a new program or product? I love that idea. There’s nothing that’s going to stand in my way. I get excited about it. Having said that, if I understand the why behind everything I do, there are things that I don’t love doing that I have to do anyway. I know that’s shocking. There are things that I hate doing that I have to do to do the work that I love. The technical term for that is called being an adult. As long as I understand why I’m doing it, even though I don’t want to, I will get it done in a quicker time and it’ll be more productive. If there’s something I don’t get it, I don’t understand it. I resist it, then I either need to understand it or I need to let it go. Plus, I’m getting better at this and a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with this. I’m getting better at delegating certain things to other people without feeling like I have to have my hand in everything. That feels good. Once I got to that play.

It’s my favorite thing to do is to delegate. If I can delegate something first thing in the morning, I feel super productive already. That’s my tip is delegate first thing in the morning and you’re all good. Thank you for being here, Steve. You were a great guest and shared a lot of great wisdom.

TBT 109 | Good Leadership

Good Leadership: The role of leaders and business people is to cultivate love and create an environment that people love working in.


Thanks, Penny. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Thank you for being here it’s because of you, we do love you and we want to provide you with as much value and support in helping you to be more productive, focus your life and your energy on the things that matter to you. That’s what the show is about is to help you to be able to achieve that by sharing tips and tricks from various people who are doing their thing and doing it in their way. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take out a few of the tips that are going to be impactful for you. Thanks for being here. We’ll see you on the next episode.

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About Steve Farber

TBT 106 | Time ManagementListed on Inc.’s listing of the Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts in the world, and #1 on Huffington Post’s 12 Business Speakers to See, Steve Farber is a bestselling author, popular keynote speaker, and a seasoned leadership coach and consultant who has worked with a vast array of public and private organizations in virtually every arena.

Farber is the former Vice President of legendary management guru Tom Peters’ company and is the founder and CEO of The Extreme Leadership Institute—an organization devoted to helping its clients develop award-winning cultures and achieve radical results. The Institute’s team has helped over 25 companies earn a ranking on the Best Places to Work list.

Farber’s third book, Greater Than Yourself, debuted as a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller. His second book, The Radical Edge, was hailed as “a playbook for harnessing the power of the human spirit.” And his first book, The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership, was named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time.

His much-anticipated new book, Love is Just Damn Good Business, published by McGraw-Hill, is available now.

Farber is a member of the exclusive Transformational Leadership Council, and his column, The Extreme Leadership Chronicles, runs frequently on Inc.com.

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