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Developing Time Management Habits with Elizabeth Grace Saunders

TBT 68 | Time Management


Flooded with emails? Suffocated with too many meetings? A lot can definitely relate to this constant worry, which is frequently tripled up with swamped work. When everything is necessary, it is undeniably hard to prioritize which one comes first and takes your time. All of this pressure leads to one solution – time management. Founder and CEO of Real Life E® and named as one of the World’s Top 30 Time Management Professionals, Elizabeth Grace Saunders unquestionably got this covered as she breaks down the challenges people face with time management and how to deal with it one at a time. Elizabeth also gives some effective strategies in prioritizing meetings and answering emails.

Listen to the podcast here:

Developing Time Management Habits with Elizabeth Grace Saunders

TBT 68 | Time Management

How to Invest Your Time Like Money

I’m super excited to have Elizabeth Saunders. She is the Founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time coaching company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She was named one of the world’s Top 30 Time Management Professionals. McGraw Hill published her first book, The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review published her second book, How to Invest Your Time Like Money and FaithWords published her third book, Divine Time Management. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox News. Welcome, Elizabeth.

Thank you, I’m delighted to be here.

I wanted to share the story of what happened when we first met. I had messed up something with the schedule and was late to our interview. People see us, “You’re the time management people,” and they’re constantly struggling with their own idea of perfection. I wanted to talk about the fact that we’re not perfect. What do we do when something like that happens? How do we accept it and let it go and not expect perfection from ourselves? When I was late to our call, I owned it and said, “I’m sorry and I apologize for being late.” I also recognize for myself what emotion was coming up. What was the thought on your side? Were you expecting perfection from me? How did you help the situation in terms of we’re not perfect and letting things go?

I had dialed in and it was my first time getting to know you. I meet new people all the time, so I’m used to rolling with things. I’m a time management coach but I don’t expect perfection of people. I totally understand that things happen, meetings run long and it’s all good. For about the first five minutes or so when I was waiting, I was like, “She’s probably wrapping something up.” Once I hit about the five to ten-minute mark, the thoughts that go through my head, particularly when I don’t know someone are, “Are they coming? What’s happening?” I had sent you an email and I forwarded the confirmation of our time and said, “Are we still on? I’m waiting but I don’t know if we need to reschedule.”

You emailed back right away and you were like, “I apologize about the schedule.” The time worked out perfect because I was about to hop off and you’re done. It all worked out in terms of us meeting up. In regard to the lessons learned, you did a great job of owning it saying, “This is what I did. This is what happened.” I tend to be very understanding. The only time it’s hard on me is when people don’t even apologize. They don’t even acknowledge it. One little tip I’ll share that I unpacked with one of my coaching clients in regard to apologies and being able to own what you did. People that have an overdeveloped sense of guilt often struggle to apologize as much as people who have no guilt at all. If you pulverize yourself and think you’re a horrible person if you did something wrong, a lot of times you won’t apologize. That seems admitting that you’re terrible, horrible failure.

That makes it worse. That makes other people think, “You not only stood me up or you’re late but you’re a jerk.” You come across horrible versus someone that is in the center and recognizes that no one’s perfect. Sometimes we make mistakes. It doesn’t make me a horrible person. It doesn’t make me horrible at time management. It’s human. You can own it. You can say, “I’m sorry, mea culpa, my fault,” and let’s move on. As the person receiving that, it’s our responsibility to accept the apology if we’re willing to do that, which is usually good idea and then move on. We don’t need to make them pay for it or keep bringing it up. It is what it is and move on to the next thing. When you’re in situation like that, you’re not a horrible, terrible person. You’re human and it happens to everyone. You can learn from it but it’s good to apologize and then everyone moves on because it’s not worth dwelling on.

It’s interesting the tip that you gave that people who have this oversense of guilt would not apologize because it’s an avoidance. It’s procrastination of ownership. It’s interesting because we’re human. If we don’t check in and be aware and conscious of our reactions and our responses in what’s going on, we can easily self-sabotage ourselves like that. Certainly, nobody does that on purpose.

People that have an overdeveloped sense of guilt often struggle to apologize as much as people who have no guilt at all. Click To Tweet

It’s not on purpose. What I noticed when I was unpacking it with one of my coaching clients in regard to procrastination around email. There was an email from someone. It was a professional email that was important to him. He had procrastinated on responding to you because he wasn’t quite sure how to respond. That made him feel worse because he was like, “I wasn’t sure how to respond. It’s been two weeks and I should have responded and they’re following up with me.” He was avoiding it more and we worked together on drafting the email. When he first drafted the email in response to this message he’d been procrastinating on, he didn’t even say he was sorry. He didn’t even voice that he was interested in collaborating and working with this other person.

I was like, “If you want to have any professional relationship last, you can’t blow those off and act like you didn’t do something wrong. You better be very explicit that you want an ongoing relationship because the way you acted, you basically ignored them. They’re going to assume that you don’t want to work together ever.” We worked on re-doing the email and he ended up apologizing, “I’m sorry for my lack of follow through,” explaining why he had had a lack of follow through because of some busy projects at work. Complimenting the person on their follow-up skills and ending up by saying, “I’d love to continue the discussion and I promise to be more responsive.” He did that and he felt good about it and they were very understanding. It was fascinating because his initial gut impulse was to not apologize, to not put himself out there because he felt so horribly bad about how he had avoided that email before.

What I like that I heard you said was he followed it up with a commitment of how he’s going to show up in the future. That’s part of ownership too. Nobody’s perfect. It’s so much easier to accept when somebody also makes that commitment to say, “You can count on me in the future. This was a one-time, it’s not a regular thing.”

When I was starting my first business, I’ve been doing time management coaching for ten years. Prior to that, I was in magazine journalism and I started at a very young age. One of my mottos was, “Do your best. Make it right. Learn for next time.” Do your best to be on time and to deliver on time. Make it right and if you screw up, apologize. Do what you can to make it happen and then learn for next time. You better make a note of like, “I need to work on this earlier. I need to remember this detail or ask this question so that it gets better.” As long as you’re in that place of humility and openness to growth, whether it’s with your time management or tasks, people do appreciate it. We can all learn, support and grow together.

When I unpacked how I deal with that and how I let go of things, I have to recognize what emotion is coming up for me. Sometimes it helps you to make a connection with somebody. I’m embarrassed or I try to acknowledge what that emotion is and say, “That’s fine,” and then like meditation. You can let that then roll off and appreciate that’s what you felt. You can also connect with people because maybe they can remember an experience. It doesn’t have to only be from being late for something. It can be anything, procrastination of an email or anything. It’s acknowledging what emotionally was going on that might have been in the way as well. People are receptive to that too because it connects you emotionally to them.

It allows you to be gracious with others because we all make mistakes. I am grateful, it’s not like I go around trying to be late for things all the time or forget things all the time. It doesn’t happen often but every once in a while, it does. I’m grateful because it keeps you humble and it keeps you from being judgmental of other people, “I have my act together. Why can’t you?” We all need grace. We all need forgiveness to both give it and receive it and it is okay not to be perfect. It’s more fun that way.

We have to love ourselves for our imperfections. I always say that progress is perfect. Going along with what you said, that motto. As long as we are making progress and we are learning and we’re being the best version of ourselves, then that’s perfect. Is there anything else that you want to share around letting go? An important part of time management strategies is letting go of what you can’t get to and of mistakes.

I have had the privilege of starting to write for the New York Times. I’ve had a couple of articles that have already come out and I have an article that will be coming out in the future. It’s on time management regret. One of the reasons I felt very passionate about writing the article was that I see many people that get stuck. They feel so badly about the mistakes they’ve made in the past that they have such a strong approach-avoidance that they don’t move forward. Whether it’s a project that they’ve been meaning to do whether it’s maybe getting their hours more in order at work, setting boundaries or whatever it is. They feel so badly about the past that they don’t take the action they could to move forward. I want to encourage people in regard to their time management. The only way out is through. The only way you’re going to feel better is when you open those emails that freak you out and reply. When you look at that project that you should have done months ago and you haven’t, and you start doing something on it. I know it’s scary. I know it makes you feel bad in the short term but long term, that’s what’s going to lead to the life that you want to live.

The only way out is through. That’s important for people to take away. That’s a great extra tip there on top of that point. Let’s shift to some other challenges that you see most coming up with time management. What do you see is one of the biggest challenges that people face that we can share some tips around?

TBT 68 | Time Management

Time Management: Sometimes we make mistakes. It doesn’t make me you horrible person or make you horrible at time management.


One of the biggest challenges people face is overwhelmed. That’s overwhelmed in number of different areas. Two key ones are overwhelmed in terms of the number of different commitments that they have, either personally or professionally and then overwhelmed in terms of the amount of inputs. The amount of things coming at them through apps, email or any sort of technology thing. Those are two big areas, the overcommitment, the overwhelming tasks, and the overwhelming input that are huge for people.

Let’s pick them apart first. What about too many commitments?

In regard to too many commitments, it’s important for people to acknowledge how much the world has changed and how much work has changed. There are always some jobs where you had a lot of different things coming at you. Traditionally, especially in the past but not too long ago, a lot more jobs were much clear cut in terms of the hours that you worked, when you worked, where you worked, what you got done, what was expected in a day. With a lot more virtual workers, a lot more knowledgeable workers, a lot more technology, all of those boundaries are decimated if you don’t take time to set those boundaries. The first thing I always recommend clients do in terms of task overwhelm is to start to get a sense of their weekly schedule.

If coaching clients work with me, then I put this together for them. If someone wants to do this on their own in my second book, How To Invest Your Time Like Money, I talked through a process of going through this. What we started out is with a macro level view of what are all those things that you have in your life personally and professionally that you’re trying to fit into a week. Maybe it’s recurring meetings, tasks that you need to do in a week, exercise time with your family, sleep and personal hobbies, whatever it is. What are all those different things and do they even fit? Sometimes when people tell me all the things they want to do, particularly entrepreneurs, and I try to put them in a weekly schedule, they literally don’t fit. It’s like, “I don’t know where you thought this was going but it’s definitely not going in your schedule.”

Do you think people are trying to do too much because they’re trying so hard to find that “balance?” Do you think that’s what’s driving part of that? Why do people take on too many commitments and try to pack too much in?

In my experience, it’s because they’re not aware of the time costs associated with them. Let’s say you have an hour-long meeting. An hour-long meeting is probably more like at least an hour and a half of your time between getting ready for the meeting, maybe walking to the meeting, prep, wrap up. It’s an hour and a half of your time. That’s a chunk of time. Answering email, even if you’re quite efficient it’s common for it to take an hour or two a day. That’s a chunk of your time. Going to exercise, even if I’m swimming in the pool for 30 to 45 minutes, that’s closer to an hour and fifteen or an hour and a half, between getting ready, getting there, all that good stuff.

It is okay not to be perfect. It's more fun that way. Click To Tweet

People aren’t aware of the time costs associated with when they do. They’re not looking at the fact that you have a time budget of let’s say eight, nine hours in a day, maybe more. When you have three-hour long meetings, you’re looking at about four and a half hours of your day. If we have an eight-hour day with about three and a half more hours, then you have an hour or two for email. That leaves you with about one and a half hours. You’ve got one and a half hours left to try to get a project done or to get other tasks done. That’s not that much time. You need to be thinking carefully about what meetings you’re saying yes to and what you’re saying you to. You need to be thinking about how much time you’re willing to spend an email and what can I realistically do in a day with the amount of time that I’ve gone.

I’m a total believer in taking a step back and looking at the big picture like that. That’s the way I approach it for myself and also support others in that. What I hear a lot and maybe you hear this too, for the typical office worker, they’re like, “I don’t have the ability to say no to these meetings.” They feel like they’re always behind the eight ball because they have their goals and everything. They also have to work around all of the demands of the meetings that they’re requested to be at. How do you support people in addressing that topic?

There are a few different answers to that question and part of it depends on what level of the organization that you’re at. I recognize that you do need to be sensitive to that factor. Depending on what the meetings are and where you’re at in terms of the management team, you can sometimes have more or less ability to say no. With that being said, I’ll share a few tips. One is when and where you can block out time for yourself in advance. It’s very common for my coaching clients to block out a couple of chunks of time. Maybe two afternoons a week, where they have the time free for a couple of hours so that they can work on project work. Maybe blocking their schedule so that meetings aren’t scheduled before 9:00 AM. They’ve got the first hour or hour-and-a-half a day to work on their own things. Setting up rules depending on the calendaring system. With some calendaring systems, you can set up rules to not have meetings at certain times a day or even have certain gaps between meetings. It gives you a chance to go to the bathroom. That’s one thing, without you actually saying no, you’re saying no because you’re trying to make your schedule busy or block it to give yourself space. That’s one way.

It’s to take control where you can. It’s so easy to fall into the excuse and the trap of saying, “I don’t have any control over this.” What you’re saying is important is take control of what you can. If you plan it ahead of time, then you have more control than you think.

You’re being proactive so then people are working around your schedule. It’s not that you won’t meet with them but maybe you won’t meet with them now or maybe you won’t even meet with them this week. What you’re doing is you’re controlling the flow of meetings and having the amount of time you’re investing in meetings each week, be the pace that works for you instead of as quickly as possible. That’s one strategy. Another strategy is there are a lot of times, depending on the type of meeting and depending on your position, where you actually can say no where there’s a redundancy like multiple people on your team and it’s not getting any additional value. You can ask for the update notes afterwards. Do a quick update chat with your direct report to see what happens. Sometimes you can have meetings be shorter. Instead of a meeting being 90 minutes long, can it get to 60? Instead of a meeting be in 60 minutes long, 30 or 45 minutes. Just trying to compress things down to the shortest amount possible. Sometimes I schedule meetings as short as fifteen minutes long because that’s all they need. That’s what I’m willing to give.

Challenge the group to get it done in less time. Parkinson’s Law tells us that we’ll take whatever time is allotted. It’s a lot less time.

If you have people working for you and they can handle being at the meetings, consider delegating some meetings. During your one-on-one with them, say, “Here are my thoughts on what I want to discuss. Please bring this to meeting, report back to me on what happened,” and let it go. If you’re not having time to do the strategic work, you’re not providing the most value to the organization.

Let’s talk on the overwhelm of the amount of information that’s out there.

TBT 68 | Time Management

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

A great book written by one of my friends, I highly recommend it, is Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism. With the amount of input coming in, you have got to have super strong filters. It’s absolutely essential that you don’t keep up and don’t care about a lot of stuff. Otherwise, your life will be sucked away by all this information input. I’ll give a few examples from my life. You do not have to do things the way I do but this is what works for me. For example with email, I do respond particularly to business email, that’s very important, but I slow the flow. My general policy is that I respond to email within 24 business hours.

I know that doesn’t work with everyone’s professional work style, but by trying to get through them once a day, I do keep up on email. I also don’t have email perpetually coming in and I don’t get myself into these conversations where I’m on email all day long. Slowing down the flow, even if it’s checking two times or three times a day, maybe four at most is a great strategy. Second strategy is get rid of notifications. There’s so little need for you to have notifications. Occasionally it’s okay, but most people get email notifications and tons of phone notifications. It’s not necessary and totally distracting you and keeping you from what you need to do.

Why are people still leaving their notifications on when they know that it’s a constant distraction?

Not recognizing it’s a huge drain and it’s also an addiction. A lot of people have digital addiction.

It’s a digital addiction, where you want to hear that somebody loves you because it’s ringing.

I recommend turning off as many notifications as possible. On my phone, the only notifications I get are for phone calls and texts. If I need to focus, I will turn my phone on silent and flip it over so I can’t see.

I did that too, airplane mode. I don’t even want them coming in.

Recognize what you need and then the third tip in regard to that is it is okay to be ignorant on lots of things. I know that sounds bad and some people were like, “I don’t know about that.” People survived for thousands of years without all the information on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit and all these things. I do have a Twitter account. I do have a Facebook account. I’m not like a social media hater, but I don’t let these things run my life. I primarily use them to post articles that I’ve written. Occasionally, I’ll scroll something but we’re talking maybe ten minutes a day at most on things like Facebook. I barely do anything with Instagram. I choose to be ignorant. I don’t read Reddit at all. You don’t have to have the same ones as me but decide for yourself what are the ones that are important and that add value. What are the things where I’m wasting my time?

The only way out is through. Click To Tweet

In the Digital Minimalism book, Cal talks about going through a digital detox. You take away these non-essential digital mediums and then decide on what replacement activities you enjoy that you want to do and do them. You can get your life back. He has testimonies of people reading eight books in a month. They are rediscovering their love of sewing, starting a blog or starting a business, all because they got off Facebook. I don’t even own a TV. People are like, “What do you do?” I’m like, “I swim, I play soccer, I get together with friends, I read, I do things around my house, I go to church.” I live my life and nothing’s wrong with TV. I’m not dissing it, but I’m just saying that you want to live your life and not give your time away to people that are trying to make money off of your attention.

Great tips for people around overwhelm and thank you so much. I want to know how can people get ahold of you so that they can get more tips and tricks or read your books. Maybe even talk to you about personally working with them around getting their life in order.

My website is RealLifeE.com and there you’ll find out about my coaching as well as my books. I have three books. If you go on Amazon or wherever books are sold and type in Elizabeth Grace Saunders, my three books will come up. You can find out all kinds of information about time management there.

Thank you, Elizabeth. This has been an awesome session and packed full of practical tips that people can apply right away. Thank you so much.

You’re welcome, my delight.

Thank you all. These tips are for you. I want you to write down what are the two or three things or even the one thing that you can take away from this show that you can implement for yourself and that you can start take action right away to better understand how to let go of things that you’re holding onto. How to combat that overwhelm, either in the amount of data that’s coming towards you, towards adding some filters or getting control over the number of commitments that you have. That’s your task. I’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Elizabeth Grace Saunders

TBT 68 | Time ManagementElizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She was named one of the World’s Top 30 Time Management Professionals.

McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. FaithWords published her third book Divine Time Management. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fast Company and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.


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Balancing Family, Health And Wealth with Kelli Calabrese

TBT 67 | Healthy Work-Life Balance


Having a healthy work environment cannot be achievable without mastering the art of time management. In today’s hectic world, finding that balance is challenging, but once you discover your rhythm, there will be no room for toxicity. Kelli Calabrese, a wellness mompreneur and bestselling author, finds the calm in the chaos as she shares how entrepreneurs can juggle family, life, health, wealth, and more. As she reveals what not to include in your morning routine, Kelli gives life-changing pieces of advice to the people who say they don’t have time to be healthy and are stuck in self-sabotaging habits. Details about her book, Mom & Dadpreneurs, are something to look forward to in this episode.

Listen to the podcast here:

Balancing Family, Health And Wealth with Kelli Calabrese

We are going to talk about a special way to approach your time because a lot of people say, “I’ve got no time to be healthy,” and that’s BS. We’re going to talk about that and we’re going to talk about if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re looking at how you can juggle family, life, health, wealth and all of that. I’m so excited to have Kelli Calabrese with us. She is an entrepreneur, a wellness expert, a networker, a speaker and a number one bestselling author. She’s dedicated many years to helping people to live vibrant, strong, energetic and fulfilled years, enjoying a lifestyle of optimal health and abundance of wealth. She’s appeared as a lifestyle expert on NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and in thousands of media outlets including Oxygen Shape, Women’s Day, Healthy Living, Weight Watchers and more. Kelli, welcome to the show.

Thanks so much for having me.

You’re a great example of you really can have it all. People think, “I can’t have a family and I can’t have my own business because that doesn’t work,” or “If I have my own business, then I don’t have the time to make sure that I stay healthy and vibrant and all of those things together.” We want to pick your brain as to how you do it.

Time is such an interesting thing. We’re so ruled by time and money while we’re here on Earth. It does become that urgent thing that we allow to direct our day and ultimately who is in control of our time. I hope that you’re holding up the mirror and saying, “It’s me.” You are the one who gets to choose everything every single day. I want to make the most out of my time here since it is short and I’m only guaranteed now. That’s how I like to design my day in a way that is set up ideally for what my passion, my purpose and my profits get to align itself with. That’s when it gets exciting. There are certain things that I’ve done. I’ve studied personal development for many years and trying to tweak what that looks like every day, knowing that the day and the time is going to be organic as life comes up. If you look at some of what we would call these super achievers, people like Tony Robbins or Richard Branson and some amazing people like Brian Tracy or Jim Rohn, what did they do?

Success leaves clues and some of the things that they do that I’ve adopted is the importance of a morning routine. It truly does set the tone for your day. I’m not sure what time people wake up. I wake up when I open my eyes. I’m fortunate not to have to use an alarm clock, not to have super early morning appointments. I have a morning routine that sets my day up for success. That includes when I wake up, breathing, gratitude, quiet time and prayerful time. Then one of the very first things that I do after going to the gratitude and prayer is I exercise very first thing in the morning. Within minutes of waking up, I’m doing some exercise. It might be stretching, deep breathing, cardio or more aggressive weightlifting. During that time, I’m feeding my brain good stuff. I’m listening to podcasts and I’m listening to sermons. I’m listening to positive and energizing music and good messages. Right away, I’m getting the information that I need to set my mind and my body and my soul off to a good start.

If you ever want to reach a destination and get somewhere and achieve some things, you have to stay laser beam focused. Click To Tweet

First of all, not everybody can choose when they get up. That doesn’t mean that they can’t have that morning routine because we choose every day. We choose maybe not every minute of our time or every hour of our time, but we have more choices than we let ourselves believe. That morning routine is a choice.

If you need to get up twenty minutes earlier and get to bed twenty minutes earlier, I promise you, whatever you’re doing in the last twenty minutes of your night is not something you’re going to finish your life wishing you did more of. Typically, it’s watching reality TV, scrolling social media, doing mindless things, distractions or whatever it is. You’re not going to finish your life wishing you did more of whatever you did for the last 30 minutes or so every day.

It also makes it harder to sleep if you’re doing any type of screen time before you go to bed. You can wake up early and you can commit to yourself. The most important thing is to commit to yourself. I forget who it is that said, “You win the day with that morning routine, by starting with that positive energy.” There are a lot of people who talk about their morning routines and what they did. You talked about gratitude, which I also write in my gratitude journal and exercise and what kind of things you’re thinking about in energy. I want to ask you, what don’t you do? People need to take extra care of what not to do in their morning routine is my belief. What is not in your morning routine?

I do not look at email messages. I do not look at social media, other than my kids. If there are messages from them, I’m going to check. I’ve got two late-stage teenagers. Besides my two children, there’s nothing that’s urgent or important to me on that phone because then I’m letting something else and someone else determine my day. Instantly, I’m pulling my head about this meeting or someone needs something or did I follow through on that. No, not technology. I will choose what to put into my brain. I’m not going to let the outside affect what’s going on.

I know the people who are successful don’t do those things in the morning. They start their day proactive, feeding their mind and focusing on the activities and the actions that they’re going to take that are most important to them, not everyone else.

TBT 67 | Healthy Work-Life Balance

Healthy Work-Life Balance: Whatever you’re doing in the last twenty minutes of your night is not something you’re going to finish your life wishing you did more of.


We have to have boundaries. Otherwise, you’re letting the world dictate you. You’re like a ship in the sea being tossed around by the waves. You are on a cruise to nowhere. If you ever want to reach a destination and get somewhere and achieve some things, you have to stay laser beam focused. That’s never been more important than now where the world is moving so much faster than it ever has. We get more information in a week than people did it in a lifetime at the beginning of the 1900s and especially in the 1800s. We have to put those boundaries up or we will never be productive and get to the things that are the tipping point and the difference makers.

You’re going to talk about your nutrition because this is important. In your answer, I’d like you to address people who say, “I don’t have the time to be healthy.” They think that it takes so much time and effort to be healthy that they’ll grab for that Snickers or eat that heavy fatty food and fast food type stuff. Tell us about your nutrition and where you get that level of vitality from and how easy it is.

It takes less time and effort to be healthy than it does to be sick. I thankfully have never been sick, but I have friends who have and I’ve taken them to doctor appointments. They sit around the doctor’s office for hours waiting and dealing with insurance, appointments, test and the decisions. That sucks the energy. I would rather get up and exercise for 30 minutes and make myself a healthy shake. It’s a choice and it’s a decision. Most people eat a maximum of thirteen different foods. They eat two or three different breakfasts, usually once during the week and one on the weekends. They may have three up to four different lunches and four to a maximum of five different dinners. You’re looking at making over twelve or so meals. Make a better choice than what you might be eating now if it’s not excellent. If you’re having a bagel or donut or Danish, how can you make that a little bit better? How about some oats or how about adding some fruits? If you’re doing pizza, how about if you got in some lean protein and vegetables?

Start with one meal at a time. Start to make it over so that you’re ultra-nourishing your body with superfoods. I personally am not a cook. My job was to do good in school. I finished three college degrees by the time I was 22 all in the science fields. I had high honors, 3.98 GPA and I never learned to cook. I got married very quickly after I graduated and my husband was a cook. I never had to cook but I don’t miss any meals and I figure out a way to make it convenient and affordable. For me, I use protein shakes. I do use bars. I get a lot of things that are premade but healthy. Most of the grocery stores now have a market where you can get salmon and chicken and roasted vegetables and superfood salads. They do make it simple and for me, the two or three hours I would have spent cooking something, I’d rather spend a few extra dollars and have it done for me. I’ll spend that time doing what I love and what I’m good at, which is coaching people or spending time with my kids and it’s worth it.

As a family, Sunday is our day. We all decide what we want to eat. We figure out our schedule and everyone gets to pick. Even when the kids were little, we’d let them have choices. You need a lean protein, you need a vegetable, you need a fudge. Kids can figure that out even at three and four years old. You can give them choices and they feel empowered. As a family, you can go to the store, you shop, you come home and you prep the food together. Even little kids can wash string beans and they can help to peel oranges and prep things. You include the family in the decision-making and you let them make the best possible choices and then you prep for the week. Make it simple. That way, you’re never scrambling. You’re never calling for that pizza delivery. Even with things like HelloFresh, if you do like to cook, that makes it a couple of steps easier. All the ingredients are there or some of those others that are available. There are many options.

It takes less time and effort to be healthy than it does to be sick. Click To Tweet

There’s no excuse not to eat healthily. Even airports have healthier options now. Restaurants are having healthier choices. Typically, I would go to a restaurant and maybe have one thing on the menu that I could eat and that might need to be modified. Now, there are restaurants where there are eight, nine, ten things and I’m like, “That looks good.” You might need to choose a better restaurant. You might need to beef up your cooking skills. I use a protein shake one meal a day so that makes it easy. I only need to come up with two other meals. One of them is usually salad-based with a lean protein so that’s simple. The other is a meal that has salmon or chicken and it could be beef or fish with some vegetables at the start. It’s not that challenging. Most of my snacks are fruits or vegetables. I will use a protein bar occasionally. I make sure that I pace my protein throughout the day. You need to have some plan because when we wait until you’re hungry and then it’s too late, that’s what we make the less excellent choice.

The most important point, and you mentioned it a couple of times, is preparation. You can prep for the whole week so that you have the types of foods easily accessible that you want. It’s so true. If we wait until the last minute and we don’t have a plan, our impulses are not what we should be trusted upon. We’re going to not always make the best choice because it’s not always the easiest choice. That’s the same with our time. Food is a perfect example, but that goes across everywhere in our life. That’s why they have a thing called a date night. If you don’t plan to get time with your spouse, then time is gone. You haven’t made time to purposefully connect with each other. The same with your kids, with all the activities that everybody’s on. We need to plan the time that we’re together. It’s across everything that we do how important planning is.

People will spend their time and money where they see value. If you’re valuing soap operas, reality TV, video games, social media, that’s where you’re going to spend your time. If you value your spouse and you value your children, then you will pour into that and I hope you do because it’s so important. That’s why I wrote the book Mom & Dadpreneurs. It’s because it is about family first and then we tend to do business and other things that we have passions about, places we would like to serve or things we’d like to grow and develop.

The priority of putting your family first and devoting the time into that is important because when you don’t, it will come back to rear its head. It will be ugly later when you didn’t pour it into a child, loving them and teaching them all of the great characters and qualities you want them to have. That eventually will come out and it would be way harder to deal with being sick. When you have a marriage or family that’s going sideways, that will take all of your attention in a negative way versus enjoying your family and enjoying a healthy body. They go together. What’s better than you have a healthy family, you can all go out and enjoy life.

You said you spend your time and money where you see value. I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here and I’m going to say I don’t believe that we always do that. We spend it where it gives us immediate pleasure. Sometimes it can be avoidance. Even though I hear people say they value their health and that they value their family, but yet they’re not necessarily spending the time and energy that they want to, but it’s because they’re impulsively looking for a short-term distraction to other stresses.

TBT 67 | Healthy Work-Life Balance

Healthy Work-Life Balance: There’s a progression that happens where people start to consider, “I know I need to make this change.”


By nature, people are lazy. By nature, people get into habits and habits can be challenging to break, but it takes a decision and people can do it. I was listening to Joyce Meyer talk about her cigarette habits. She was highly addicted to cigarettes. She knew it wasn’t good for her. She wanted to quit, but she was physically addicted to that habit. She struggled and it was hard. She prays to take that desire away from her. Eventually, she had to wean herself off. For some people, it does happen in a moment where they make a decision and they never pick up cigarettes. There’s this transtheoretical model of change where some people are at one end of the ditch where they say, “I don’t need to change. I don’t need to stop smoking, drinking lots of alcohol and being obese are good for me.”

That’s denial and ridiculous. They’re not valuing their health and being honest. There’s a progression that happens where people start to consider, “I know I need to make this change.” They start to investigate like, “If I was going to lose some weight or cut back on drinking or stop smoking, what’s the best way to go about that?” Then there’s some moment where you do make a decision and you get the gym membership or you stopped buying the cigarettes or you get an accountability partner or a coach. You use something. Then there’s this period of time that could be short or long where it gets you into maintenance where now, it’s more of the habit. It’s a new habit, it’s a better habit and it’s a progressive habit. Then at some point it becomes a life cycle like everyone brushes their teeth every day. It’s not something that takes a lot of effort. It’s normal and routine. If someone says, “I value my health,” but they’re doing things in the opposite of that in terms of thinking and action and habits, then they’re really not.

What could you advise them? For somebody who knows that they’re stuck in a self-sabotaging habit and they value something else, what would you suggest is the first thing that they could do?

It starts with belief. First, you need to believe in yourself. You need to start trusting yourself. If you can’t trust yourself, then you don’t trust others either. Getting into a coach or an accountability partner or a book or any information isn’t going to be helpful. You start by changing your belief, which changes your thinking and then eventually your action and eventually your habits. I like to write things down. I’m also a knowledge person. It helps me to understand why. Why do I want to do an intermittent fasting day? Why do I want to have a cleanse day? Why do I want to drink a protein shake? I’m a knowledge person. It helps me to understand and know why. Some people are more emotional, writing things down and sharing it with someone and making that commitment. That’s why AA works for some people because there are those twelve steps.

There’s accountability to it to make that change. Some people go for decades, even though they’d been cleaned for decades because they still want and need that accountability. It starts with a decision, which means to cut off other possibilities to really decide and take a small step. It doesn’t have to be giant, but maybe you’re going to walk after dinner for ten minutes, three days this week. Whatever you decide that you feel is realistic that you can do then awesome. For example, one of my clients is an accountant and she knows during tax season she has to dial way back on her exercise for 40 days leading up to April 15th. She’s honest with herself about that. She could trust herself to do twenty minutes for three days a week, but she can’t get in an hour for five days a week.

People will spend their time and money where they see value. Click To Tweet

You need to be realistic in those expectations. You need to have forward progress too. Having that accountability partner is powerful and I’ve seen it from some people. Some people need to commit with their wallet because if they make a financial commitment to go to kickboxing or CrossFit or whatever it might be where they hire that coach, then they’re going to show up. There are many tools and people are motivated in different ways. Some people can get an app and they can lose 100 pounds with an app. I’ve seen it happen. They’re a numbers person and they see those numbers and they count their calories. Other people don’t want anything to do with counting calories. They’re more visual.

I want to hear about the Mom & Dadpreneurs. You have a bestselling book out that talks about how you can put your family in the forefront and focus on them and still be that entrepreneur at the same time. Tell us about the book and tell us about one or two tips that you could share for people who either aspire to be a mom or dadpreneur or already are one.

I love to work. I love what I do. I have such a passion and desire in me and my background is in fitness, nutrition and wellness. I owned and operated a chain of health clubs. I was managing corporate fitness centers. I was running a school. I was connected to it. That was my identity. We came up with a family. Seven years into our marriage, my son was born and right away I got pregnant with my daughter. They’re fourteen months apart. I knew it wasn’t the kind of mom I wanted to be with the hours that were required to run the business that I had. Health clubs start at 5:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, hundreds of employees, thousands of members, multiple locations. That wasn’t the mom that I wanted to be. I took that jump of faith.

It truly was a jump and I had my partner buy me out and I came home. This is back in 2000 when the internet was just getting going and not a whole lot was being done online with fitness, exercise, weight loss or any of those. It was new. I decided I was going to figure it out. Through my own journey of designing how can that happen? How can I still contribute to my industry on a high level and do what I’d love and to be here to raise these babies because I knew I was supposed to be. For many years, I have been figuring that out and certainly, I did not do it perfectly at all. I made mistakes but I didn’t want it to be just my story.

TBT 67 | Healthy Work-Life Balance

Mom & Dadpreneurs: Stories, Strategies and Tips From Super Achievers in Family & Business

In the Mom & Dadpreneur book, there are about 30 different stories and some are traditional families like mine was. Some are single parents, some are adopted, blended. I wanted to show everyone that anyone can do this. Some of them are immigrants, some of them are accountants who had worked their way up eight years of college with a corner office. They have a lot to lose, but they made that decision that they didn’t want to miss out on a dance recital. This book is designed to give people hope by reading the stories of an immigrant who come over from Russia and leave corporate America Wall Street and become a millionaire with a home-based business that anyone can do. It is a compilation of some amazing people who overcame great things. It’s never perfect and never easy.

The success is not linear. There were ups and downs. What I love about it is they’re raw and they give you examples of what’s possible. I hope that it inspires people because we all have a dream inside of us. We all have a purpose and a plan and a passion in our life that you can come home and raise your family. It’s going to look different for everyone but still give back in a way that contributes to society or industry, but also provides for your family and the benefits to your kids are amazing. To see a mom and dad who are taking risks, who are growing. In my business, I was always out of my house and my kids got to meet cool people and we had meetings here and people stay. They got to travel with me and see mom speak and be a part of what I do.

I love when kids can see that entrepreneurial mom and dad because they’re watching and they’re gleaning off of that. My kids’ friends would come over and go, “What does your dad do?” They just shrug and go, “I don’t know. He puts on a suit and he leaves.” My kids are engaged in my business. They can get it on Amazon, Mom & Dadpreneur. It is a best-selling book. I hope people pick up a copy and share it. Whether you’re in it or you aspire to be there or you know someone, definitely get a copy of that book. It has helped so many people. With nutrition too, if it saves them time. I would love to share my nutrition system. I’ve coached over 12,000 people on it and everyone from high school, college students, through executives and through seniors. It’s an amazing nourishing program to give you energy in life. It’s simple, convenient, affordable and proven it works.

Thank you so much for sharing all of that. We covered a lot of ground. I feel it was productive. When they put these principles into practice, that’s what’s going to take back time. Thank you, Kelli, for being here and sharing your wisdom and all that you bring.

It is my pleasure, Penny. Thank you. If they want to find me in social media, it’s my name, Kelli Calabrese. My website is KelliCalabrese.com and my email is Kelli@KelliCalabrese. It’s easy to find me.

Thank you so much and thank you all because you are walking away with a lot of great insights and tips and things that you can put into place. It’s about believing in yourself and understanding that you have a choice in each of these areas that we talked about. Go and make good choices so that you can take back time. I’ll see you in the next episode.

Important Links:

About Kelli Calabrese

TBT 67 | Healthy Work-Life BalanceAs an entrepreneur, wellness expert, networker, speaker and #1 best selling author, Kelli has dedicated the past 32 years to helping people live vibrant, strong, energetic fulfilled years enjoying a lifestyle of optimal health and an abundance of wealth.

Kelli appeared as a lifestyle expert on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and in thousands of media outlets including Oxygen, Shape, Women’s Day, Health Living, Weight Watchers and more. She did a keynote presentation in place of Michelle Obama for Blue Cross & Blue Shield, was interviewed by NBC for the coach on the Biggest Loser, was the lead fitness expert for Montel Williams and have spoken on topics related to health, wealth and abundant living.

She is fully committed to helping people achieve their goals for weight loss/cleansing/ fat burning, energy, athletic performance and youthful aging. She is also committed to helping people get out of debt and into prosperity by personally partnering with those who have a burning desire to build residual income helping others get healthy.

As a coach, mentor, author, influencer, top achiever and wellness mompreneur, She is equipped to take you from where you are to where you want to be with your goals for your health and wealth.


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Efficient Time Management And Productivity with Kevin Kruse

TBT 66 | Time Management And Productivity


Being busy isn’t synonymous to being productive. People are just busy but not productive when they are not able to achieve anything. However, you can save time and become efficient and productive with time management because they go side by side. Kevin Kruse, founder, and CEO of LEADx and New York Times bestselling author is an extreme productivity person and has written nine books around productivity and leadership. Kevin joins us to take a look into some of his books, particularly Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Your Business and 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. He shares his insight on the importance of time management on productivity, emphasizing that until we can manage time, we cannot manage anything else.

Listen to the podcast here:

Efficient Time Management And Productivity with Kevin Kruse

Great Leaders Have No Rules

TBT 66 | Time Management And Productivity

15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs

I am excited to have fellow Philadelphian on the line, Kevin Kruse. He is the Founder and CEO of LEADx. They are offering the world’s first leadership training and coach powered by IBM Watson, which I’m sure he’s going to tell us more about. Kevin is also a New York Times bestselling author of nine books. That’s how I found Kevin was from reading and really enjoying his stuff. I said, “Kevin, you got to come and be on the show.” One of his books that just came out is Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform your Team and Your Business and among the many others like the 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. We’re going to talk about some of those books and principals. Kevin, welcome to the show.

Penny, thanks a lot. It’s great to be representing Philadelphia here.

Kevin, you’ve written nine books around leadership and productivity. I think somewhere I read that you were an extreme productivity person. Where did you get the interest and the passion around productivity?

I wish it was different, but it’s because I used to be so horrible at it. Years ago, I started a company as an entrepreneur with the best of intentions and it was all about hustle and I was working around the clock and I failed miserably. My second business went out of business and it took me three times to get it right and thankfully I’ve had some success since then, but when I look back, I was really bad at productivity. Working hard is not necessarily the same as being productive or certainly not the same as being effective. I also didn’t know how to lead. If you think about leaders or managers or even entrepreneurs, are you getting the right stuff done? Are you engaging your people? Are you attracting talented people and holding on to them? I was pretty bad at both of those things.

Over the years, I just tried to become a student of it and I got a lot of great mentors. When I sold a previous company years ago, I was a single dad with three kids and said, “Let me take some time off and raise my kids, do some nonprofit stuff.” That was the time I said, “Let me go track down highly successful people around the world, self-made billionaires, self-made millionaires and just get their opinion.” What’s the number one secret? That started the 15 Secrets book. I flipped it back over to start looking at all the stupid things that people think they know about management leadership that that just doesn’t work anymore. It’s really been that dual focus.

I want to talk about some of those things. First, let’s go back. You’ve interviewed many really cool people who are highly successful, high performers and trying to find out the secrets. Unfortunately, we have to learn the hard way sometimes. What was the shocking thing that you learned?

It’s easy because this is what I get more hate mail about than anything else. As you mentioned, I interviewed almost 300 of the self-made billionaires and millionaires, but also Olympians and straight-A athletes. When I was about halfway through the interviews, I was only asking one open-ended question. Give me your number one secret to time management and productivity? About halfway through I realized nobody had mentioned a to-do list. A lot of people would be like, “You prioritize it. I got the system ABC.” That’s the way we were all taught. In fact, when I was doing the interviews, my to-do list was on a yellow legal pad; extra-long, two columns. That’s how I tried to do it. When I realized they weren’t talking about it, I then started asking the follow-up question. I would say, “You didn’t mention your to-do list. Do you have any tips on that?” Most of them would laugh. “To-do list? We don’t use a to-do list.”

Rules can bring productivity to a halt. Click To Tweet

As I dug in, it turns out that the to-do list idea came from a guy named Ivy Lee over a hundred years ago. It was that time he said, “Executives should write down five things on a piece of paper, stick it in their pocket, work on thing number one and when they’re done, pull out the paper, look at thing number two and start working on that, then you go home at 5:00.” That might’ve been great advice for a quieter, slower, fewer items to-do time, but it doesn’t really work. I’m not anti-list. I have a grocery list. I have a project list and our brains are pretty good at remembering things that’s maybe just a handful. When we get to about ten things, the amount of stuff we need to do. A list might get us through more than that, we’re going to forget or choose the wrong thing. A study a couple of years ago shows that 40% of what we put on our to-do list never gets done at all.

The answer is that they’re not using a to-do list, they’re using their calendar. I hear this over and over again. If you really want to get something done, pick a day, pick a time, pick a duration and schedule it. Schedule, don’t list. That was the thing. It changed my life. I didn’t know that. I tell people, don’t shoot the messenger. This is what people told me. I had a chance to talk to John Maxwell, this great legendary leadership coach. We were talking about something else and he stumbled in, he said, “Kevin, anytime from the last twenty years, you pick the day, you pick the hour. Give me a minute and I’ll tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing.” He said, “I calendar everything and I review that calendar.” In fact, he takes the last week of the year to really go back, “How much time was I spending on health? How about family, how about business?” He reallocates the minutes for the upcoming year. Most of us just work off that to-do list, but it’s just not that effective.

I want to talk about that because you’re right. Our first inclination, going back to what you said earlier is we work harder because our brain makes us think that that short-term solution of working harder is going to be better, but it’s not. I think that to-do list is the same thing. It’s that default thing that our brain says is make this to-do list, but it actually ends up distracting us. You said, if 40% of it isn’t even getting done, then most of the stuff on there is just a distraction from the things that are really important and really need our focus.

You said it well there because it means that the to-do list is the graveyard of important but not urgent or important but not easy or just the graveyard. If we’ve got that, “I’ve got 30 minutes, what do I do?” We look at the list and we picked the easy thing, the fun thing and the thing that fits within 30 minutes. Our brains aren’t wired for success naturally.

We’re not telling you to ditch your list entirely. However, we are telling you that if your primary focus is on your to-do list, then you were not working as efficient and effective as these self-made millionaires, billionaires, Olympic athletes or people who are high performers. They are not focused on the list. They’re probably not focused on time. Time makes us stressed out if we’re focused on it. You said that the leadership principles don’t work anymore. I think that’s an interesting comment of what you made. We’re in different times. I’d love to have you make some about and maybe it’s something that’s in your new book that can give people some insight around great leaders have no rules. What are some things that used to work that don’t work now?

These things may be worked at one point, they came from a good place, but the times have changed. A classic one is, we’ve all heard to have that open door policy. Most of us don’t have offices indoors, but whether it’s being accessible in the cube environment or through Slack, at home, whatever it is, the classic wisdom is to have that open door policy to facilitate communication and speed and leap-frogging to solve problems. This day and age, especially with these interruption devices, also known as our smartphones, that policy is problematic in two ways. One, for the manager, the leader, we’re getting interrupted all the time and we can’t do our deep work. We can’t do strategic thinking and creative thinking. We’re never getting into the zone. It’s also bad for the team members who are coming through that open door.

TBT 66 | Time Management And Productivity

Time Management And Productivity: For those of us who are newer to management leadership, we fall back on the wisdom of our older peers or even family members or parents.


The executive coach Marshall Goldsmith did some writing and research on this. He said, “If someone’s coming through your door with an unplanned item, either you hired the wrong person, you didn’t train them very well or you don’t have a culture of psychological safety. They’re too scared to make a decision to take action, to make a choice and be wrong.” It’s not a healthy relationship for your team either. This day and age, I’m not saying don’t communicate, just slam the door. Close the door and open your calendar. Maybe it’s office hours and you could say whatever works for you. Maybe it’s two hours a day of office hours where anybody could come in and bug you. Everybody’s going to be different with their situation. That open door policy is one that came from a good place and might’ve worked at one time. This day and age it’s just driving us all crazy and not a real healthy dynamic for most teens as well.

It’s interesting, open door policies and they say, “We don’t even have any doors anymore.” That supposedly was to create more interaction and engagement, but it really just creates more distraction. To set up those core times when people can reach you and having them have a plan when they come in makes 100% sense. What is it that we don’t know intuitively that some of these things that we know but we don’t do?

When I think back when I was in my twenties and young and dumb and it’s not that everybody who’s in their twenties is young and dumb, it was just me. For those of us who are newer to management leadership, we fall back on the wisdom of our older peers or even family members or parents. I think a lot of this old and no longer effective advice is still out there. I think that it’s more just understanding what the modern workplace is all about. Again, it is contrarian to work from your calendar, not really your to-do list, close that open door policy most of the time. I think the times have changed. In one of the chapters, I say reveal everything, even salaries. Back in the day, there were levels of secrecy. It was almost the employees can’t handle the truth. I was told once that we’re having a bad quarter, but don’t tell those the staff otherwise they’re all going to be updating their resumes and taking headhunter phone calls.

This day and age, I think that people have access to information easier than ever before, especially the younger generation is more willing to share. They don’t really care about privacy as much. Even when it comes to something salary, it was so taboo when I was young. You would probably be fired if you told people how much money you made. That was a state secret. This day and age, people could just go online to Salary.com or PayScale.com and quickly see like, “What is the going rate for my position in my city in Philadelphia?” If you’re young, half the time they’re all comparing notes. As we’ve learned that secrecy has also bred things like the gender gap when it comes to pay. It’s only when you shine a light on some of these things that things can change and improve. More people are becoming comfortable, whether it’s salary or something else. If you don’t talk about it, people aren’t stupid. Whatever they imagine is going to be worse than the reality anyway. If you aren’t willing to share something like salary, I think this is an opportunity to say, “Why not?” That means I don’t have a system in place or it is too arbitrary or I haven’t adjusted people in a while. Take those steps. I think this is where some of the Silicon Valley companies have done well.

They’ll say, “For our software engineers, we pay up to 70% of going rate using this service to indicate what that is and you’ll make $10,000 more if you’ve got a Master’s degree or you’ll make $10,000 more if you have three years or more experience.” It’s a formula. It doesn’t mean everybody’s going to be making exactly the same, but it’s going to be close and there’s at least logic. When I find out that Penny and I are both programmers and I found out she makes $125,000 a year and I make $120,000, there’s probably going to be a reason for that that I can understand. How do I get that extra $5,000? Just really change the dynamics when you create a culture that says, “We’re going to share everything with you, the good and the bad because we want your help fixing the bad and we want you to trust us.” When things get really bad, you don’t have to wonder, we would be telling you. If they’re not that bad, then rally up with us and keep moving forward.

It’s full transparency and it does foster trust. I’ve seen it in organizations where it’s been the opposite and there weren’t very many transparency and people had issues with knowing what was the truth. I’m not sure that I think that we should be sharing and discussing each person’s salary with one another because I think there are some other issues, but it doesn’t need to be taboo. If you’re not happy with your salary, it should be something that you can discuss. If you’re way under-paying your people, they’re going to find out and that’s not a good thing. I want to come back to the title of your book Have No Rules. That’s one of your chapters in there. What are some of the productivity results from having no rules?

Working hard is not necessarily the same as being productive or certainly not the same as being effective. Click To Tweet

I think that it gets back to the highest level. Leadership, it starts with self-leadership. If leadership is an influence, there’s self-leadership, how do we lead ourselves? There’s leadership at home, in our marriages with our kids and at work. It’s not that I’m suggesting that everything runs amuck. You need rules if there are laws. I worked for a railroad and one of the rules was you can’t listen to music with earbuds when you’re working on the railroad track. That’s probably a pretty good rule to have. They’re there for a reason. However, every time I bumped into a rule, it takes away the opportunity for me to make a choice. It becomes your company, not my company. Rules get in the way of a relationship. Rules crowd out conversation. Rules impede this idea of engagement. I’ll tell you a quick story. I was 30 years old and had sold my company. They come in and acquired mine. I was a vice president. I was a partner. I report to the CEO. He gave me the big pep talk. “We’re all equal partners here. Everybody gets one vote. We’re all going to build this company to the next level together.” It sounded good to me.

30 days in, I get my first expense report check back and the check is short by about $4. I sent a note to our CFO and just said, “Don, it’s no big deal, but the check came back short. I assume I filled out the form wrong.” He emailed back right away and said, “No, we don’t reimburse for post-it notes.” I said, “Why?” He said, “It’s a wasteful expense.” How much did I feel like a partner in the firm, an owner in the company when I couldn’t even buy Post-it Notes? How much did I feel like a VP? How engaged did it feel like my company or their company and they were the people that weren’t letting me buy Post-it Notes? Another friend of mine who had joined the firm also at a partner level, the same exact day, his check showed up short and he found out that they don’t reimburse for beer. He had bought a beer with dinner while he was traveling on business. Now, he could have bought a $6 milkshake. They would’ve paid for it, but they didn’t want to pay for his $3 beer. Like all rules, they come from a good place. Organizations want to protect from losing money or risk. They’re protecting against the 1% of knuckleheads, but the 99% are bumped into these rules.

How interesting is that? How much it costs them for somebody to go through all of those expense reports in that detail? That’s way more than the $3 of the $4 on each of your paycheck. That’s just plain stupid.

Most rules backfire. It either costs more to enforce them than to not have them or people will do silly things. There was a company that the person told me that they had sent out a big proposal and it had a typo in the budget. It was embarrassing. There was a new rule put in place. No salesperson could send out a proposal unless the Chief Financial Officer approved the budget. They then missed $1 million opportunity because the CFO was sick that day that it was due. No one could sign it and the rep wouldn’t break the rule and send it in. They lost out on $1 million opportunity. Another one of my readers had sent in, I was asking for examples of silly rules and they said, “We’ve got a rule where we’re not allowed to spend more than $100 per night on a hotel for business travel.” They said, “We had a meeting in New York City.” You can’t get a hotel room for $100 in New York City. They got a $90 hotel room in New Jersey and then paid $100 for a rental car to drive from New Jersey into New York to do the meeting and back.

They spent $200 to not spend the extra $10 on the hotel room. With my Post-it Notes example, I went to war. It was called, “The Post-it Note battle” I talked to the CEO about it. He said, “Kevin, here’s the deal. I don’t care about Post-it Notes.” He said, “One of our values is growth and profit.” That was a written value. It’s not the mission. He said, “We need to survive. That’s the air we breathe.” This is a symbol. He said, “Most people, they buy Post-it Notes and they scribble little phone messages or other things.” He says, “I don’t use Post-it Notes.” He says, “I take my leftover printer paper and I tear it into little squares.” He had a stack of this torn paper on his desk. He said, “It’s a symbol of frugality.” Here’s what happened. He agreed. He didn’t want everybody to be upset so he changed the rule. We could now buy Post-it Notes. Because he had a conversation with me, we had a little bit of a relationship, sharing what was going on here. Because he linked it to a value, I never bought Post-it Notes again.

To this day, I rip up little pieces of paper, then put them on my desk to take little notes from phone calls and messages and things. Rules are arbitrary. They’re black and white, they don’t consider circumstance. Better than rules are used your values, whether it’s your family values, values in a marriage or values at work, as guard rails. These are your bumper cars, you’re bumping into these values, but there’s some wiggle in between. Instead of just having a rule, you have a conversation. If some knucklehead is spending money wastefully or dressing inappropriately at the office or taking too many days of vacation, that’s a coaching conversation. You let them know this is out of the norm and the average and here’s our concern about it and the downside. Hopefully, that corrects the behavior or you have a tougher conversation. To arbitrarily apply that dress code rule, everybody gets ten days off vacation, whatever that is, it does more harm than good.

TBT 66 | Time Management And Productivity

Management And Productivity: Often we have these rules, conscious or unconscious, that guide us but put us in box arbitrarily. They make our life smaller, not larger.


It’s interesting that you say that. At first, I was going to say, “Don’t you think we really need more personal rules sometimes because we don’t have boundaries, then we’re violating our own values because we’re not putting boundaries in place?” When it comes to the business, I have seen the same thing that you’ve seen. I was actually coaching a large chiropractic group that has multiple locations. Because of something that one doctor did, they put a rule in place that limited everyone and it really impacted the whole trust of all the doctors together with the owners. I think it really does create some limitations and barrier in a way because it’s not taking into consideration context and it’s really taking one bad egg who you should have a conversation with versus making a rule across the board. I do agree with that. Many companies have way too many rules that they need to evaluate. That being said, I’d like your opinion on people that are setting fewer boundaries for themselves and rules for themselves so that they can be less distracted. Rules about don’t look at your phone every ten minutes. Let’s talk about that. What about personal rules?

This is where I think you bring up a good point. I think I myself would need to think more about rules versus holding myself to a higher standard. I’m glad you asked the question because the book is Great Leaders Have No Rules, but it’s not just about leadership at work. As I say, “It starts with self-leadership and then family leadership.” In general, I think where rules for our own lives go wrong is we don’t challenge them. Some people might have a rule, I will never date a person who smokes or isn’t my religion or isn’t an age range. Often, we have these rules, conscious or unconscious that guide us or I will never start a business until my kids are out of college or whatever that might be. I think a lot of these rules box us in arbitrarily. They make our life smaller, not larger.

They might be value-based. I want to interrupt though there.

Let’s give an example. What would be a rule that would be value-based?

You said for instance, that I’m not going to start my business until my kids are out of elementary school.

What is it that you value? Time with your kids?

Our brains are pretty good at remembering just a handful of things. Click To Tweet

Whoever’s doing that, those are the impressionable years and therefore, they want to be home during those years.

Again, in terms of rules taking out conversation and rule replacement would start with values. It’s funny, I had a similar thing. The reason why I didn’t start the current business LEADx until two years ago was because I had three kids at home and I waited until the first two were off to college before starting up. In my case, it wasn’t that black and white rule where it was I was not going to start another business until all the kids are out. It became I’m not going to start a business because I’m valuing my time being a dad and raising good kids. It was an ongoing conversation with myself where all of a sudden I realized, “Two of my kids are out, I’ve now got one and he’s a boy that doesn’t seem to be around or need me as much as the girls and he’s getting ready to drive in self to school.” There’s not the early morning stuff that he’s sixteen. I thought about, “Can I start a business and still give him what he needs from a parent?” I think to me, a rule is that inflexible thing. You cannot stay at a hotel that cost over $100 and then nobody ever does it. I think the value is be frugal while you travel. It is frugal for New York City. I think it’s subtle, but I think as long as you’re willing to evaluate your rule on a continual basis, then I’d be okay with it.

I do talk about it. That’s why I like when you said it’s value-based. It’s important to challenge it. For instance, if it’s principle-based and you say, “I don’t eat meat,” that’s a rule. I find that when we have those rules and principles for ourselves, it makes our life easier in a way because it’s a decision already made. I like the idea that you challenge it and see what are the benefits, what are the costs and why is this important to me? You can decide, is this a guiding principle for my life or is this just for now? As you said, it’s a matter of challenging it because some of those rules can really serve us. For instance, if I brush my teeth, I don’t eat after I brush my teeth. It’s a rule or principle. Have I ever broken it? Yes, maybe, but it helps me from overeating because then I’ll just go brush my teeth and I have this rule and principle that supports me and then I can use it to my benefit. You know what I mean?

I love that example because I’m also all about habits. That brush the teeth thing is a really good one. Especially if I don’t want a snack.

Some rules can benefit us.

TBT 66 | Time Management And Productivity

Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business

I don’t call that a rule. I call it a principle. In my mind the rule becomes negative when crossed. This is where people really go crazy. I don’t think we should have rules with our kids. A common rule is curfew. Most people were raised with curfews, give curfews to their kids. Here’s the difference that I see. When I was a kid growing up, I had two older sisters. I watched this going on. My dad is an old school dad, he would have curfew was 10:00 PM or whatever it is. I would see him get up, start pacing and huffing at 9:55 PM. At 10:00 PM, he’d be telling my mom that the girls are going to be in trouble. At 10:03 PM, they walked in and all hell broke loose. He’s angry, he’s screaming and he’s talking about punishment. They are now going to lie. “Look at my watch, it’s only 9:55 PM, dad.” Dad doesn’t believe that for a second. He’s made them scared and probably have feelings of guilt. The whole conversation now is all about power. It’s about respect. They feel this is dad’s house, not our house. It’s dad’s family, not our family.

It could also be about integrity that he’s looking to set those rules so that people know that we value if we set time together. The curfew was the principle, that you let somebody know if you’re going to be late and maybe it’s about integrity and then its value-connected.

I liked the word principle more than the rule. My kids have never come in late. I’ve never had a curfew with them, but I’ve had plenty of conversations that I have said, “You’re going to this high school party. What time are you coming home?” “Everybody else is coming home at midnight.” I say, “That sounds a little late to me because I love you guys so much and I’m going to worry so much about you coming home safely that I’m not going to fall asleep until I know you guys are home safely. By the way, I’ve got to get up early to take your son to a 7:00 AM basketball game. I can’t sleep in either. Any chance that you guys could get home at 11:00 PM instead?” They say, “Okay.” If they come home at 10:55 PM or 11:05 PM it’s not, “You’ve disrespected me. It’s five minutes. You have no integrity.” It’s coming from a place of caring. It’s talking about what we value. I’ve got friends who are in marriages that are filled with rules. You’re not allowed to do this on Sunday or you’re not allowed to go here or you can text that person anymore from your past.

The rules are always coming from a good place of intention. If it’s a rule, “I am putting my foot down and you are not allowed to,” it changes the relationship. It’s not a conversation and it doesn’t come values-based. If someone together says, “I am feeling anxious and concerned about you texting this person from your past and we know that half of marriages break up or have infidelity. I’m really worried about you texting.” I would be way more likely to say, “I never saw it that way. I didn’t realize you even worried about it. Of course, it means nothing. We’re just friends. I didn’t know that you have these feelings. Of course, I value our feelings way more. It’s not that important. I respect where you’re coming from. I’m not going to text her anymore.” All of a sudden it’s, “I want to follow the principle. I agree with the values and I feel I’ve been heard a little bit. This is still our relationship, not your relationship or our agreement.” It is subtle, is it a principle or is it a rule? It is subtle.

I’m bringing it up because I’m also very word-oriented. I also agree with you. I just wanted to play the various different sides and think about the different sides, because I actually have a framework that I created. If you took a triangle, one side is the expectation and the other side that make up the peak is intent. Trust goes right down the middle. When all is balanced, expectation and intent are aligned, then we’re in trust. I found this out in the weirdest way, in a working relationship. When trust goes down, unfortunately, it makes no sense whatsoever, but expectations go up. That’s why rules go up. That’s why people create more rules and more boundaries because it’s almost like a fear factor. Let’s make it even harder for this person or anybody else to meet it, it’s all because of this fear because the trust has lowered.

I had a relationship with somebody on the executive team where I realized that my trust had gone down. Weirdly enough, I had all these additional expectations with him and other managing partner that I was working with on the management team, we trusted each other implicitly and we had no expectations of one another. Mistakes could happen. Roll it under the carpet, who cares? We’ll work it out. I believe that they are trust-based. When you say no rules, I think it’s because when you come from a place of trust, you’re creating trust. You don’t need to have those rules so set in stone. It’s communication and it’s based on values and principles. I was just playing the different sides of things because I think there’s a lot of people who may see them as different ways, but that’s something that I found about rules and trust that actually surprised me.

I liked that model that you described that jotted that triangle down in front of me. I could see that I’m now thinking about experiences in my work life where to me it’s almost that downward spiral where someone doesn’t meet expectations and then that trust goes down. I’m almost more aware of, “Are they going to meet this other expectation? Look at that, they didn’t meet that one either.” The trust goes down again. All of a sudden, it’s the confirming bias. I’m noticing and I’m hyper-aware of the ways they’re not meeting my expectation.

The younger generation doesn’t care about privacy as much as before. Click To Tweet

Probably you weren’t even aware that you had half of those expectations. It is an interesting thing that I discovered and it gives us the ability as leaders, individuals and all of our relationships to really reevaluate our trust. If we see that we’re putting a lot of rules on things, then we can reevaluate where our trust is and work on the trust. I could talk to you forever. What’s one last thing that you’d really like to leave the audience of Take Back Time? What do you like to leave them with?

I think that Great Leaders Have No Rules is about really challenging conventional wisdom. I’ll just do two quick takeaways. On the productivity side, I say think about protecting your deep work focused time. Maybe you don’t close your door all day long, but at least close it for a couple of hours. On the rules side of things, just as we’ve been doing in this fun conversation, think about leading yourself. Think about your marriage, your kids and of course at work. Are there rules you have that are just too stringent? That hasn’t been challenged and have a conversation. If you’ve got a curfew and like it, great, but have a conversation with your kids about it. “What do you think about the curfew? Why do you think I have a curfew? What would you do differently about the curfew?” You’ll strengthen the compliance and the relationship by talking it through.

Those are great takeaways. I’d like to add one more, something you said earlier that I didn’t highlight, but I did a circle on my notes here. You said that in all the interviews that you did, John Maxwell specifically takes a week at the end of the year to reflect. If you went through all your interviews, is it fair to say that reflection time and really assessing what works and doesn’t work was something that successful, productive people spend their time on or investment their time in? Is that the truth?

In fact, many of them literally scheduled that time on their calendar. It was like one hour for reflection at the end of the day or reflection and gratitude. They all had their own spin on it. It was so important. They were literally scheduling into their day or at the end of their week.

I wanted to leave people with that as a takeaway as well because that’s something that I think most people do not invest the time in.

Thank you so much. I really appreciated the chance to come on. It’s been so much fun talking to you.

I’ve really enjoyed it. I know that our audience has taken away a lot of golden nuggets. Where is the best place for them to reach you and how can they get a hold of your new book?

Great Leaders Have No Rules is available in all bookstores and online and Amazon.com. The best way to get ahold of me is my company called LEADx, Kevin@LEADx.orgI would love to hear from your audience. I always read and reply to anybody that the reaches out.

Kevin, thank you so much for being here. Thank you all for being here and make sure that you’ve taken a couple of notes down and that you’re going to reflect on them when you block that into your calendar.

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About Kevin Kruse

TBT 66 | Time Management And ProductivityKevin Kruse is the Founder and CEO of LEADx, offering the world’s first leadership trainer and coach powered by IBM Watson. Kevin is also a New York Times bestselling author of nine books including Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business (launching April 2019).



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Getting Published: Positioning Yourself As An Expert Faster with Judy Weintraub

TBT 65 | Getting Published


A lot of business owners aren’t able to grow well because they’re not attracting enough prospects. Entrepreneur and bestselling author Judy Weintraub says getting a book published is a great way to attract more of your ideal prospects and enable you to grow your business. Judy is the Founder of SkillBites, a book writing and publishing platform designed to help authors get their books written and published easily and quickly. She joins us in this episode to talk about how to position yourself as an expert and how to do that at a faster pace through writing and publishing a book.

Listen to the podcast here:

Getting Published: Positioning Yourself As An Expert Faster with Judy Weintraub

We’re going to talk about how to position yourself as an expert. How to do that at a faster pace and how can you do that optimally? Also, in that context is how to do it through writing a book and some specific tips on that with a great guest, Judy Weintraub who is here with us. She is an accomplished entrepreneur, a business executive, an attorney and a bestselling author of The Essentials of Negotiating Effectively. She’s also the author of How to Build Successful Business Partnerships. She’s the Founder of SkillBites, providing book writing and publishing services designed to help authors to get their books written and published easily and quickly. That’s what we’re all about here. In addition to SkillBites, Judy runs Weintraub Legal Services providing dispute resolution services and corporate law services to small business. Welcome, Judy.

Thank you so much, Penny.

You are a woman with many hats.

I am but I love helping business owners succeed. That’s how I got into the book writing business.

Tell me more about that because that’s a far cry from being a lawyer and negotiating. What makes you passionate about the entrepreneur and helping them to write?

I help entrepreneurs in my legal practice. One of the things that I can see is that a lot of business owners aren’t able to grow well because they’re not attracting enough prospects. Getting a book published is a great way to attract more of your ideal prospects and that will enable you to grow your business.

It is the entrepreneurs’ dilemma. Most entrepreneurs get into business because they’re good at something, but it doesn’t mean they’re good at sales. It doesn’t mean that they’re good at finding a business. It means they’re good at delivering the product or service that they do.

You know because you’re a bestselling author as well how incredibly powerful it is when you can say you’re a published author.

Let’s talk about how an entrepreneur can position themselves more efficiently, effectively as that expert in the marketplace and earn more money as a result of writing a book. Tell us about your perspective from that.

Once you’re a published author, you’re almost immediately perceived as a thought leader or an expert in your field. A lot of people won’t do business with somebody unless they know, like and trust them. When you’re a published author, you gain that trust from the people who perceive you as an expert, who are aware of your book and may have read your book. It can be great for enhancing your credibility and greatly expanding your visibility, all these people that come across your book that you might never have known and couldn’t attract before.

It opened many doors for me. I already had a good reputation. I used to be a Tony Robbins’ business coach. I had some accolades or credibility and that context. I do believe that having the book opened up different platforms to me and got people to know me without having to interact with them. People are like, “I feel like I know you from reading your book.” It gives you a leg up.

You don’t even have to have people read your book. If they know that you’re a published author, without reading your book at all, they’ll still perceive you as a thought leader or an expert.

What are some of the things that have opened up for clients of yours, for entrepreneurs that have done this?

They’ve had speaking engagements and joint venture opportunities. One of my authors submitted her book as part of a proposal in response to a request for proposals for a significant job that she would never normally have been considered for. She was a subcontractor for a major job. The contractor saw that she had this book, he selected her as the subcontractor on this massive job. She would not have been able to be considered for that had she not had a book. You have to use the book. You have to put that in with your proposal and let people know about the fact that you’re a published author.

It’s an incredible tool and it’s a speed to trust. We’re talking about Take Back Time on this show. If you’re an entrepreneur or you feel like you have a story inside, writing a book is a fantastic way to get exposure fairly quickly and to get that status. A lot of entrepreneurs are like, “That sounds great but I can’t write.”

TBT 65 | Getting Published

Getting Published: Once you’re a published author, you’re almost immediately perceived as a thought leader or an expert in your field.


Fortunately, that’s not a big issue. I would say the bigger issue for most of my clients is how you find the time to write when you’re trying to run a business. The fact that you have the expertise to run business means you’ve got enough material whether you write it, whether you speak it, whether you have a ghostwriter and get the thoughts out of your head. There are ways to get it done. The bigger issue is how do you find the time to write?

What time are we talking about? I want to write it myself or I write it with a ghostwriter, what time commitment are we talking about in each of those scenarios?

It’s going to depend on the size of the book that you’re trying to write. It’s going to take a lot more time if you’re writing a 300-page book than writing a 50-page book. I’ve got a lot of authors who are writing the short 30 to 50-page books because they can be written a lot quicker, it’s a lot easier for their target market to read. They can narrowly target these little books to exactly what their audience needs and it’s less expensive to publish as well. When you do a number of them, you’re a serial author and you can bundle them. There are a lot of advantages to doing shorter books.

You may have busted a belief that some people have, “I have to write a 200, 300-page book.”

That can be overwhelming.

I do think that people hold that in their head, “I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the skills,” because they think it’s such a big book. Let’s take that example. If somebody is going to write a 30 or a 50-page book, what time commitment would they need to set aside in order to do that?

If they’re going to write it themselves and they already have some material that they’ve created, let’s say they have blog posts, presentations or articles, it can be done fairly quickly. You can repurpose a material that you’ve already created into a 30 to 50-page book in a couple of months.

That’s my favorite word, repurpose. I love that word. As an entrepreneur, I have blog, articles, audios that I’ve done and presentations. They could bring their phone with them and record a presentation that they’re doing and that can be transcribed. It can be used in a whole host of different ways including the book. Being able to repurpose everything that they’re already doing is so powerful.

A lot of people won't do business with somebody unless they know, like and trust them. Click To Tweet

It will save them so much time than having to recreate the material.

That’s another belief buster that if somebody is thinking, “I don’t have the material and the content. It is going to take so much time.” It’s so much easier when you use what you already have.

Another advantage or strategy for getting your book written more quickly is to carve out some time that you know that you can devote to your book. Develop a game plan. When would you be able to write? Is it early in the morning? Is it late at night or some time that you can work uninterrupted? It ought to be a time that your mind is still fairly active and creative. If doing it at night is the only uninterrupted time but you’re exhausted, that’s not going to work out well for you. See if you can carve out an hour or so a couple of times a week so that you can get into a flow and make progress. You want to identify the time, you wanted to identify where you’re going to write, what days you’re going to write or how long you’re going to write? Once you have that game plan and you try to stick to it, then you’ll get your book done. It’s when you try to find the time, catch-as-catch-can that it takes forever.

You’ve got to schedule it. You’ve got to create a system for yourself. That’s what I did when I was writing my book. I woke up an hour before my kids got up in the morning and I would write for an hour before they got up. I would also write after they went to bed. Everybody’s going to be different. Find the energy and find the place that you’re going to be uninterrupted. That’s an important thing is to plan for that time.

If you identify a timeframe that you want to have the book written, you publicize that perhaps on social media, you let some friends know or whatever then you’ve gotten a built-in accountability standard that will also help you get that book done in the timeframe that you want.

I do that too. It’s like you hold your feet to your fire. You announce it to everybody on a certain date. You have a responsibility because you’ve put it out there and that’s a great idea. It allows you to work with the end in mind, work your way backwards and create your plan from the end date. That’s a smart way to do it.

I was going to go into another tip that I find help most of my clients. Not everybody works well from this but most people find it much easier to write from an outline than to write on a blank piece of paper or a blank screen. I suggest creating an outline of your book, starting with doing a brain dump of everything that you want to include. You can categorize things into the different chapters, subtopics and write from that. You don’t even have to go in order. You can start anywhere where you have a particular mental thought as to what you want to say. It could be in chapter five, chapter nine or whatever and keep writing all the pieces. When it’s all done, you can go through, put in transitions and move things around but you’ll get it done that way.

TBT 65 | Getting Published

Getting Published: Once you have that game plan and you try to stick to it, then you’ll get your book done. It’s when you try to find the time, catch-as-catch-can that it takes forever.


What are all the things I need to think about and plan for ahead of time? A lot of times when we do things, we don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into. What resources does somebody need to think about in terms of planning for the investment, both of their time and money?

If you don’t have an overview of what’s at stake in going into this project, you could find that you’ve spent a lot of time getting your book done and then you don’t have the wherewithal or the desire to go through and get it published. You’ve wasted your time. A critical factor is knowing what you want to get out of the book and who you’re writing it for. If you’re going to write a book that isn’t going to get you where you want to go, then it’s not worth writing. Know what your objective is and who you’re target audience is that you want to read the book. Write a book that will help you get to your objective by helping the target reader that will hopefully come to you for whatever the product or services that you’re trying to sell. You should be aware of all the things that have to happen to get your book done besides the writing of the book.

What are some of those? Most people aren’t aware of that and it will be helpful for them to know.

Number one is you need a good editing job. If this is going to enhance your reputation, then you don’t want to put something out there with grammatical errors, typos or things like that. It’s like if you have a resume that’s got an error in it, you could be the most qualified person but it’s not going to come across well. You’ve got editing. You’ve got book layout, which is taking your manuscript and making it look like a book. Putting in things like the copyright page, the table of contents, headers, fonts, margins and all the things that make a book a book instead of a paper between two covers. You need to have an attractive front cover. You need to have good information on the back cover because that’s what people look at second after they look at the front cover. If your book is thick enough to have a spine, you want to have the title, your name on the spine and all that requires that you pay attention to the cover specifications of whoever’s doing the publishing of your book. Generally, that person that does a cover should be a cover designer because graphic artists and others don’t necessarily understand cover design specifications.

You mentioned publishing. That’s a piece in itself too. It’s either to have somebody do that for you or to understand what needs to happen in order to get that published.

There’s the formatting of the book as an eBook and print book. There’s getting it up on Amazon and other platforms and getting your print copies. You can do all that yourself, the question, is that the most worthwhile expenditure of your time given that you’re trying to run a business? You have to learn how to do it. If you don’t do it right, it’s probably not going to come out well. When you are publishing on Amazon, you have certain options for choosing keywords, choosing categories, writing a description and things like that that will make your book findable. If you aren’t an expert in doing those things, nobody can find your book because you didn’t take advantage of those opportunities, what are you gaining?

You mentioned earlier about knowing your objective. There are different platforms. Amazon isn’t the only platform and depending on what one’s objective is, if they want to be in the bookstore then they want to be on different platforms. If you’re self-published, then you can’t be in a bookstore unless you’re with certain publishing platforms.

Amazon does offer expanded distribution, which means that bookstores could provide their patrons access to your book. What Amazon doesn’t tell you is that bookstores don’t use Amazon. They don’t have their patrons gain access to books that are on Amazon because Amazon gives a much lower discount to bookstores and they don’t take returns.

A critical factor is knowing what you want to get out of the book and who you're writing it for. Click To Tweet

That’s the main thing. When I did my research, they want you to use platforms that will manage those returns.

Once you select expanded distribution on Amazon, you can’t deselect it later. You can deselect it but it’s not going to do any good. You can’t then get your book on the other platforms that bookstores do go to without a huge complicated mess. That’s the type of thing that if you’re not knowledgeable, you might make that mistake. That’s why it’s a good idea to hire somebody who can help you do that and do it right.

There are nuances to getting a book published and getting it to your audience. If you’re not the expert in that, give it over to somebody who is an expert in that space and can make sure that you’re meeting all of your objectives as opposed to learning the hard way.

The one other thing that is important for people to understand is that as hard as it is to get the book written and to go through all those steps to get it published, the biggest thing you got to keep in mind is the book marketing. If you don’t do any book marketing, your book isn’t good going to get you as far as it should. That’s a shame because you’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into getting your book done. If you don’t market it, nobody’s going to know about it.

That would be a waste of time. You’ve got to make sure in your planning that you’ve already thought about your target audience. Then it’s, “How are you going to reach them on the marketing side,” and getting a solid marketing plan out there so that you can get your book recognized and use it to enhance your business, which is what you wrote it for. You’ve put that thought in their head and they’re thinking about it, what else do you think is important for them to know?

They need to know what their objectives are. If you want your book to help you get someplace, then number one, it will help you prioritize the book above other things and number two, it will help you write a book that will help you achieve those objectives. You need to keep in mind all the different facets of the book, not just the writing of the book but all the steps post writing, post manuscripts, through publication and marketing. You need to develop a marketing strategy on how you’re going to use your book, how are you going to promote it and how can you leverage your book. It’s not the book sales that are going to lead to a whole lot of revenue for you. It’s leveraging your book to bring in more customers, getting more speaking engagements, joint venture opportunities or things like that. That’s where the real power of having a book is.

Where can people find out more information about you so they can get your support?

TBT 65 | Getting Published

Getting Published: As hard as it is to get the book written and get it published, the biggest thing you got to keep in mind is the book marketing.


I can be reached via my email, which is Judy@SkillBites.net. My website is SkillBites.net. I wanted to let your audience know that I’ve got a workshop coming up in called, It’s About Time to Write Your Book. We talk about how do you find the time to write your book, how you take action that can help you get your book written as quickly and easily as possible.

Judy, thank you so much and sharing these great tips, especially so that they’ve got an idea of all the things that they need to think about when they’re going to write a book, write it efficiently and effectively.

That’s my pleasure, Penny. Thanks so much for having me on your show.

For all entrepreneurs, business leaders and people who think that you’ve got a story to tell there are a couple of beliefs that we’ve busted. It doesn’t have to be a long book. You definitely can get the support you need and plan out the time that you want to write it. This is one of those things I can tell you is challenging. I wrote a longer book but since then I’ve written some workbooks. I can tell you that it will boost your business and it’s worth the effort that you’re going to put into it. Think about whether it’s about time to write your book. We’ll see you in the next episode. Thanks.

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About Judy Weintraub

TBT 65 | Getting PublishedJudy Weintraub is an accomplished entrepreneur, business executive, and attorney and is a bestselling author of The Essentials of Negotiating Effectively and the author of How to Build Successful Business Partnerships. She is the founder of SkillBites, providing book writing and publishing services designed to help authors get their books written and published easily and quickly. In addition to SkillBites, Judy runs Weintraub Legal Services, providing dispute resolution services and corporate law services to small businesses.


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Managing Millenials: The Gaps In Leadership with John Dame

TBT 64 | Leadership


How can a leader be effective and influential in a workforce packed with Millennials? Generations do come and go, and with that being said, how should leadership keep pace? Leadership coach of CEOs and business strategist John Dame uncovers the struggles leaders face in this Millennial age. In today’s generation where convenience is provided and job opportunities are easily given, he gives tips on how leaders could positively engage their people and have the right mindset in coaching to align corporate values and goals.

Listen to the podcast here:

Managing Millenials: The Gaps In Leadership with John Dame

I’m excited to be talking about leadership and the future of leadership. I am with the great John Dame. I love his slogan, “Making money and doing good.” He has a reputation for insightful evaluation planning and a passion for driving results. He’s grown his involvement with companies and organizations internationally. He helped these companies to take it to the next level. He has a fine-tuned understanding of the risks, the challenges and the opportunities that are facing both seasoned and emerging CEOs. His current focus has turned towards the role of purpose. He has a great newsletter and series around purpose, around the business environment and the new challenge of transitioning to a Millennial-based workforce and growing leadership teams within his client companies. Welcome, John.

Thanks, Penny. I’m glad to be here with you.

I have great respect with the way that you work with the companies that you work with and the realness of what you get into with them around leadership. How did you get passionate about working with leaders in this way?

Historically, I grew up in the broadcasting business. I owned and operated radio stations, for many years, most of my career. I started a network syndicating talk shows nationally. For the past several years, I’ve been working almost exclusively with CEOs. What I’ve seen is that people are generally good, CEOs included, even though there’s a bad rap in terms of how people view leaders in general because we don’t have a tremendous amount of great role models to look at. Unfortunately, at the top of the news, we have political leaders that are not the greatest models as well as even some of our higher level industry leaders who have been arrested or have a variety of things that have happened. The concept that I talked to people about is that leadership has to change. We should view our jobs differently and treat the human beings that we work with quite a bit differently.

That’s the premise that I’ve worked with. In doing that, what I’ve found is that the people that I work with, whether they’re the most senior leaders in an organization or emerging leaders, they’re looking for a way to be heard. It’s a way to communicate in a fashion that treats them as intelligent human beings that they are and also gives them a place to be safe. We don’t think about that too much. Even for executives, where can you go to talk about the stuff that’s important? Sometimes you can’t go home. Sometimes you don’t want to share that with your family or even with your best friends. What I tried to do in the environments that I work with is create a place where we can talk about what’s important to people in an atmosphere where they’re not afraid to be vulnerable and maybe expose a few of those warts they think they have.

TBT 64 | Leadership

Leadership: People are looking for safe and collaborative environments. They want a boss that has a steady hand on the tiller.


I read a study that Google had done where they were picking apart what makes great teams. It took them a few years looking at all different constellations of teams. One of the key things that came out was that they needed to be an environment that they felt safe and respected. That’s an interesting word, safety.

If we think about leaders in the world that I grew up in, it was a command and control world. It worked well at the time because there were more people than there were jobs. In other words, when I was growing up in the business world, people stuck around and took a lot from their leaders because they had to. There were not that many opportunities. Nowadays, when you look at people and we all think it’s terrible, it’s a good thing. People are unwilling to be in an environment where it is not safe. This goes more than whatever you might say with the #MeToo organization. People like to be in a place where they have friends, where they feel there’s a little more meaning to their work than showing up and making a buck.

Nobody wants to go to work so their boss can drive a BMW. That’s not the case. People are looking to find an environment that allows them to come to work every day, feel like they’re making a difference. Humans are herd animals. We like to be around other humans for the most part. You want to be at a place where that is pleasant to do. Not in a place where it’s unpleasant to do. Sometimes we mistake business toughness and that can get you results. Those results were having a great organization. The people are looking for safe and collaborative environments. They want a boss that has a steady hand on the tiller. Somebody who doesn’t change every day. You don’t want to come in in a different direction every day. It drives people crazy when they do that. They want to have some say and some input into what’s going on. People want to have a vision. They want to have a strategy. They’d like to have goals, focus and all those things. Employees are looking for something slightly different.

Skills and strategy are not enough as a leader. Empathy, compassion, authenticity and all of that are the soft factors. They’re even more important now. I want to go back to the word, less tolerance. This is my perception, the experience that I’ve seen. I’m interested in your opinion on that. They know what they want. They want to have more of a say. They want to share and be more connected, purposeful and collaborative. They have little tolerance for, “If this environment doesn’t have it, I’m going somewhere else.”

It is part of the Millennial culture. Unlike a Boomer or Gen X who might be slightly different, Millennials have had an environment where there have been good job opportunities especially now where there are more jobs than there are people. They can choose to go and leave without another opportunity. There’s real flexibility and freedom to do that. It’s probably more in the culture of a Millennial to work to live so that they can enjoy their lives, get away and do things. The other fact is that Millennials work more than anybody else does because they spend more time online. They work from home more than anybody else. It’s a little different way that they want to work. They’d certainly like to have a flexible work environment.

Humans are herd animals. We like to be around other humans for the most part. Click To Tweet

This tolerance is for everybody. Nobody would like to go work for a jerk. In the end, most people whether they’re 65 years old or 25 have a real aversion to somebody who is not a truth teller. That looks at people as horses that you can drive with the carrot on the stick. When we look at people in that manner, we lose the ability to optimize a relationship, which would then optimize the efficiency and the work habits of the organization. If this were easy to fix, people would be doing it right and left. Often, people think that as leaders it’s like, “Let’s have a Friday happy hour and beanbag chairs around,” and that’s enough.

I bring up that tolerance because I don’t mean it as a negative but as a positive in the context of it’s forcing changes. It forces and opens the eyes and empowers. Nobody wants to work for a jerk, an organization that doesn’t have integrity. It’s freed even Baby Boomers and other generations to look at it and be like, “We don’t want to work under those conditions either.” It is raising the bar for leaders to show up as leaders and not as that command and control but to stretch and improve their leadership. It’s a good thing.

You talked about the soft skills, a lot of times we place much emphasis on the technical aspects of the business that all of the things like Six Sigma, Lean, understanding budgeting, strategy and those components. What we have seen, at least in the observation that I would have and Gallup supports it is in the past 40 years there’s been little or no movement in the level of engagement. The level of engagement is people willing to go above and beyond the call of duty emotionally for an organization into it. That hasn’t changed in that level of engagement depending on the organization. Overall, the average has been about 30% of the people are engaged, which means that 70% of people are somewhat disengaged and might dispute that if you have an organization.

The truth is that for a lot of people, it’s a job. There’s nothing wrong with it being a job. The issue is that work is not meaningful to people. Therefore, they end up not being as attentive, as positive as they could be about it. Therefore, they don’t get as much done as they could. The data shows that a person who’s engaged does about 1.5 times the amount of work than somebody who’s disengaged. It doesn’t cost any more other than paying attention. It’s what I would call some total culture ecosystem that you need to think about to make that happen.

TBT 64 | Leadership

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

What are the key things for leaders who are looking to positively engage their people and create more meaning in the workplace? What are some strategies that they can put in place that you’ve seen successful?

These are not revelations. I do think number one is that if you start out as a leader and know yourself, understand who you are, why it is you’re doing the work that you’re doing, what your values are. You can translate those values into alignment with your organization. If you don’t run it, if you’re not the CEO, you might be interested in whether what you value aligns with what the organization values and what the purpose is for the organization. What you collectively see is that purpose. That starts out by looking at yourself and gaining some self-awareness that you would need to move forward as a leader. Often we look, “This is not seven steps.” It’s more of developing a way of being as a leader than seven steps to be a leader.

It starts with defining your purpose, understanding yourself a little bit better. If you look at the culture that you want to engender in your organization, that’s where you can look the organizational purpose and say, “Does that align with my purpose? How does that work for the people that work here? Why did they show up for work every day? What would give them greater meaning?” I don’t think this simply has to be, “We’re going to change the world together.” It could mean we want to work hard and have friends at work. There are things that are purposeful that are there.

I also think that leaders looking at themselves in a culture as a coach versus a manager is a big difference. In other words, if you’re an athlete, you have a coach. That coach can’t replace you in the athletic endeavor. What they can do is add some points to help you get better but you’ve got to do it on your own. People appreciate coaching and feedback loops that are both positive and reaffirming. It’s a funny thing when I’ve done strategic planning in an organization. I talked to people about how do they know when they’re doing a good job. They tell me it’s the absence of being yelled at. It’s positive. You laugh at that.

For many good reasons, they’re fearful of offering either too much positive or too much negative feedback. They don’t want to lose anybody. They don’t want to build them up too much. They don’t treat people like the adults that they are. Therefore, I believe they’re missing a key component in the way that they can develop a culture where people want to come to work every day. It’s also being clear about your values in the culture and around those values because sometimes values seem a little abstract to employees. Can you name the seven values? There are behaviors that you have to identify. What are those behaviors that would have the greatest and most positive impact on the organization that you want to reinforce and make that part of the overall culture too? Codify those so that you end up with a way to look at it.

A key strategy is to ask more quality questions, to be that coach. I don’t know if you’ve read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive. It’s a great book. He talks about autonomy. When people feel like they’re being told what to do versus giving them the flexibility and freedom within a question to be able to bring their creativity and their ideas and find the answer out themselves, it’s giving them a piece of autonomy that engages people.

A person who's engaged does about 1.5 times the amount of work than somebody who's disengaged. Click To Tweet

Often that autonomy is taken away by people who want to do a good job and feel compelled to be the micro managers that are there. It’s not that they want to micromanage people. They’re worried about the outcome. It ends up feeling like a lack of trust, “You don’t trust me to do the work.” There are sometimes a lot of good ways to get something done. If we don’t allow people to grow and learn on their own, they’re not going to do it. Daniel Pink’s study validates that. In addition to that autonomy, that, “Don’t micromanage me,” he’s also talking about mastery there where people want to get better at what they do. The only way to get better is to give people increasingly more complex tasks to do over an extended period of time without oversight to see where the edges of their capability are. If you can do that, that’s good. The other thing that he talks about is the purpose. People connect with that. That was all ages. That wasn’t just young. Those three components are what motivates people. Certainly, there are iterations of that. What you brought up about Daniel Pink is great. It’s valid in the workplace.

I want to piggyback off what you said about the micromanager. The thing is we don’t know we’re doing it. I’m a recovering micromanager. I used to fall into that trap. It made me more stressed out and gave me more to do. I know that it comes back to the first thing that you talked about, which was self-awareness. It’s to ask yourself, “Are you coaching or are you micromanaging?” Getting a feel of that and being able to delegate to allow that autonomy is a big feedback point for leaders to see where they are and where their potential is for improvement.

The hardest thing about this too, if you think of a leader, and even understanding being more self-aware, is that there are few places where a leader can go and get unfiltered with the best intent feedback. In other words, it’s one thing to be candid. It’s another thing for you to be candid with somebody with the right heart. The goal is to help people get better, grow and learn from the circumstance. There are few environments where CEOs, owners of companies can go because people blow smoke up their behind so much, that work for them but they don’t get that. They have to go to other places. Whether it’s into a peer group like what I do with this stage or any other peer group that allows them to be more vulnerable and open to hearing about behaviors they have that may or may not be helping them become leaders.

There’s this CEO briefing, which is part of the magazine, had this question that came up. It said, “What’s the one behavior that your employees think that if you changed it would have the greatest impact on your organization?” Often, CEOs never get that. They never get to hear that as people are unwilling to be candid with them because they think they may lose their job. The person may want to hear it. There’s a sunflower bias where the CEO is talking to a group and says, “Here’s an idea I’d like you to think about. I want you to tell me everything you think is wrong with this idea.” After twenty minutes, the CEO goes, “I told you this is a great idea.” Everybody is afraid to tell him. There’s a big organizational design video that came out in the ‘70s about that called the Abilene Paradox. It looks at why we are afraid to respond when something happens that is difficult for us to counter. There are all sorts of things. Whether it’s people left at the altar that we’re afraid to say, “I don’t want to get married.” They go all the way to the altar and then they say, “I can’t do it,” or a boss that is trying to push something. They think they’re asking for unfiltered feedback. You do whatever you want to do.

What would be one last thing that is either on your heart that you see the most that you want to bring to people’s attention or a final tip that you’d like to give the audience around leading in this new world?

TBT 64 | Leadership

Leadership: The only way to get better is to give people increasingly more complex tasks to do over an extended period of time without oversight to see where the edges of their capability are.


It’s a free offer. I put this concept, which is called the Lead with Purpose Leaders’ Pledge. It’s ten items. What it does is it sets the tone or maybe who you might like to be or looking at things that you might like to change or the paradigm that shifts. An example of this would be, in the past 40 years, we’ve looked at and paid executives in the event of a downturn in the business economy. The first thing that they do is they do cutbacks in people. No wonder people aren’t too loyal to companies because the first thing that happens is a cutback. What if we looked at things a little bit differently and said, “The first thing we’re going to do is everything but people,” because there’s no CEO that tells me that people aren’t his or her greatest assets.

What you need to do is to say, “How do we shift the paradigm to live so that we’re not given that lip service. How do then people get to know?” If you were working at an organization, you knew there was a downturn. The executives in charge did everything that they could, including reduced their salaries, took away their vacations, gave money to you to be able to stay. What would you think about that as an organization where you’d like to work and continue? Circumstances change over time and organizations go through bad moments and good moments.

That being said, I’ve heard people tell their stories about how they did that in difficult times, smaller organizations. They said they have employees for life.

That’s what you would find. If you want to talk about changing the way you lead and the perception, we’ve all been conditioned. When you think of the biggest companies, whatever it might happen to be, they fire 5,000 people. I’m sure the CEO doesn’t want to do that. On the other hand, that’s the way they get the money to continue to operate. If there was another way to do it, they made the mistake of hiring the people. They ought to own it a little bit more.

Run your big business like a small business. When I had my own IT business, my people got paid before I got paid. I know those big companies appreciate their people too. They’ll tell you that people are the biggest assets but not in the same way. It’s not giving up and seeing what they can sacrifice. Big businesses should run their business and be a leader as if it were a small business.

Becoming a leader starts with defining your purpose and understanding yourself a little bit better. Click To Tweet

With the right heart, I go back to that because I think that ultimately if you believe in those human beings that you have working for and with you as being great and wanting to do a good job, then you approach them differently than you would as people that are lined up. You can change them at a moment’s notice. There’s always somebody better waiting in line that may or may not be true. I don’t believe that’s true. You have to find good people, treat them right, grow them up, help them become even more valuable assets for your company. Does this always pay off exactly right? No, but I think more often it will.

Thank you for that. That’s a good mindset thought for leaders to be thinking at a high level. What sacrifices are they willing to make with the right heart before people are being considered to be let go? That’s interesting under different difficult times. John, how can people get ahold of you, get onto also your newsletter and things like that, and get that pledge that you were talking about?

If you’d like to pick up the pledge, it’s free. You don’t have to sign up for anything. I don’t take your name. Go to JohnDame.com. You can download that. I have a Lead with Purpose Friday digest that you can get, which are a series of videos or thoughts about being a purposeful leader and that comes out every Friday. Once again, all I need is an email address. I don’t do anything with it other than send you that digest.

Thank you so much for sharing your years of experience. I appreciate you being here.

Thanks, Penny. I’m glad to do it.

TBT 64 | Leadership

Leadership: You have to find good people, treat them right, grow them up, help them become even more valuable assets for your company.


Thank you all for being here and taking away a few nuggets on how you can be a better leader to create better performance and productivity for yourself as well as for your team. We’ll see you at the next show.

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About John Dame

TBT 64 | LeadershipJD’s reputation for insightful evaluation, planning, and a passion for driving results have grown his involvement with companies and organizations internationally. He has a fine-tuned understanding of the risks, challenges, and opportunities facing both seasoned and emerging CEOs. His current focus has turned toward the role of purpose in the business environment, the new challenge of transitioning to a Millennial-based workforce, and growing leadership teams within his client companies.



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The Top Productivity Principles with Alex Genadinik

TBT 63 | Productivity Principles


People are always busy in their daily lives, living in this fast-paced world, but are they really productive? Our guest, Alex Genadinik, a three-time best-selling Amazon author, a business coach, and a successful entrepreneur reveals the top principles that stand out for him in his book, 20 Principles of Productivity. He shares how the process of elimination and mindfulness with self-assessment helped him to become more productive. He also pointed out that focusing on one principle at a time will make a tremendous difference.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Top Productivity Principles with Alex Genadinik

I’m so excited to have Alex Genadinik. He is a successful entrepreneur, a three-time best-selling Amazon author, probably more than that with so many books that you have out and successful courses. He’s a business coach who has coached over 1,000 entrepreneurs and is a multiple time best-selling Udemy instructor. He does fantastic online courses and he helps people with entrepreneurship and business growth in specializing their business planning, setting strategy, SEO and advanced marketing strategy. Without further delay here, we have Alex.

Thank you for that wonderful introduction and thank you for having me on the show.

One of the books that you’ve written is the 20 Principles of Productivity. For somebody who is overwhelmed, frustrated, caught up in procrastination or perfectionism, what are the top two principles that stand out for you that will help people to be more productive and get more done in their crazy, hectic and busy lives?

Actually, you should not do all 20 or 50 because it’s too overwhelming. You’ve got to do one at a time and become good at it. Almost any of them will make a tremendous difference. For example, a lot of top producer and top CEOs, whenever they’re surveyed, “What’s your biggest productivity tip?” Their tip is to not do things because a lot of things creep into the to-do list that don’t get us to our goal. They’re nice to have. We might have FOMO, “I want to do this and I want to do this,” but if it isn’t laser-focused and it doesn’t get us closer to our goals, I’m taking that task out. Elimination is one thing that I’d recommend to almost everybody and being good at elimination will free up 70% of your time. It doesn’t mean you have to watch TV or you should watch TV during that time. Use that time to double and triple down on those tasks that precisely do get you closer to that goal. It isn’t enough to just do them. You have to execute those tasks at not above average level and not better than 80% of the people. You have to execute at the top 1% or 2% level. If you are executing worse than 98 percentile, that’s not good enough because if you look at almost any industry and any professionals, the top people win in a very lopsided manner.

Elimination, I get it but you’re stressing me out by saying, “I’ve got to execute at the top 1%.” I hope you have a tip for me that’s going to tell me, “How do I execute at the top 1%?”

It’s persistence. When you start out, everyone thinks they are fantastic and they’re totally not. They’re just okay. They’re above average. Starting out makes you above average because most people get lost in the planning and the dreaming. They never start. When you’re on day one and you start out, they think they’re great. They’re not that great. They’re above average, which is okay to struggle. They start and they struggle. Most people don’t persist. They get frustrated and they get discouraged early and quit. If they don’t and if they persist, and this is not even according to me, this is according to the last 100 years of entrepreneurship literature. You can read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. If they persist over time, they’ll become better than 50%, 60%, 70% or 80% of their competitors. That number might sound great.

I’m better than 80% but in most industries, I found that there’s a pyramid of who wins and it’s very lopsided. The top 1% or 2% win in a very lopsided manner. They are the wealthy. That 60%, 70% are in the game but they struggle. The answer to your question of like, “How do you do that, Alex?” You just have to persist and you have to improve your skills. That elimination will allow you to focus on the most important things in your business and improve them. Perhaps the second thing I’d recommend is mindfulness and self-assessment. How do you know what to improve? We all think we’re great. When I wrote my Business Plan book, I thought it was great. I’m twenty edits and six editions in and now I actually think it’s not that good.

The more we know, the more we don’t know.

I’m the third editor. I’ve re-read and re-written it a bunch of times and people are still finding some ways to improve with little things. Having that mindset where you’re like, “I’m doing a good job.” “No, you’re not.” Self-assess, find your own blind spot, get coaching, network with peers and get family and friends to look at what you’re doing because it’s very easy for others to find flaws. There’s no shortage. For us, it’s hard and that’s another skill. There’s this concept of working in your business and on your business. When you’re in your business, it’s what you have to do to pay the bills. You have to sell, you have to build the product and you have to serve your clients or whatever you have to do.

It’s the tactics of running your business.

The day we stuff and we get caught up in it because we do more and more. I’ve been guilty of that myself as well very much. That’s why I have too many books and too many courses. It’s very critical to take a step back and allocate maybe 5% of your budget or time. Just 5%, 10%, whatever you can do because it is important to keep the lights on and service your clients and all this. If you can take that time purely not doing work and not being in your business but taking a step back and looking, what can I do better? What processes can I improve? If you do this every week, you improve something. You look back at it a year from now, two years from now and you’re like, “I improved 50 things about my business.”

Take a look at where’s the market going. That reflection is so important to see where are you adding value and where you can add more value and have allocated time to be strategic. I’m a big proponent of that as well. If you look at all the great successful people, whether it be Warren Buffett or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or anybody who’s been interviewed at that top 1% level that you’re talking about, they all have these retreats. These reflection retreats or learning retreats, where they go away from the day-to-day and they look at what’s working, what’s not working, where’s the market going, etc. That’s really important.

Eventually, persistence with that self-assessment and self-improvement will get you to the 1% execution and then real growth and success opens up. It’s so simple.

Being good at elimination will free up 70% of your time. Click To Tweet

Tell us how did you come up with these principles? I know for myself that a lot of the things that I talk about around productivity were hard learned. I’d much rather learn these best practices from someone else. Many of them, we have to get hit over the head and have our own challenges. What do you think was your greatest lesson around productivity that you share most often?

When you look back at my YouTube channel, I have now three million views and I started in 2012. I look at it as one of my toughest learning periods where I was still at somewhat of a struggle period. I was doing okay online but I was in the business. I’m very stressed. What happened is if you look at it, I have 800 videos and they’re almost entirely bad. I was good at marketing them but the video production was bad and my delivery wasn’t good. I consistently was making the videos and I was driven by stress. When you’re driven by stress, your brain can’t do anything except try to remove that short-term pain and short-term stress.

I’m like, “If I just made more and more.” I wasn’t working on the business. I was too in the business. I couldn’t take a step back and I didn’t have a coach or anybody to tell me. Eventually somebody told me, “You’ve got to raise your game. The videos aren’t good.” When I look back at it, I was like on a big sprint. It was so mistaken. Because of the stress, it was so hard to make the videos better because I was in that mindset. Having that discipline and being aware that that’s the issue, that’s first. Also, that was my lesson in life. You have to improve your processes. You have to improve how you do things, design or production, anything. Whatever your audiences’ business might be, everyone’s different. Probably there’s some plateau they’re hitting and they can’t get beyond it. It’s probably something like the quality of what they’re producing. That’s one thing.

What you’re saying is for people to recognize when they’ve hit a plateau. Instead of just keep pushing and pushing is to recognize that you hit a plateau. Instead of continually beating your head against the wall, stop and think. The first step is to be aware and to stop. If you don’t check in early enough, you’re not seeing that you actually hit the wall.

I do have a lot of entrepreneurs that come to me and they say, “I’ve tried everything. I don’t know what to do.” Then when you were looking from the side, you’re like, “Everything sucks about what you’re doing.” It’s obvious but for them, they’re doing their best and it’s understandable. A lot of times, I was in the same situation too. It’s self-assessment and getting feedback. They’re just not doing the basics because they’re in distress and everything’s caving in on them in a way. The other point I was going to make is helping my clients and consistently running into issues with them. For example after a while, I was able to create a good strategy for a lot of people quickly like, “Do you have an eCommerce business?” “I don’t know how to promote this.” “Do you have this local service?” I was giving them exactly what to do but they were coming back and not doing it.

I experienced the same thing. You’re like, “What is going on? I told you exactly what to do.” Why didn’t they do it?

TBT 63 | Productivity Principles

20 Principles of Productivity: Focus, Motivation, Organization, Habit Building, Time Management, Apps, Psychology, Goal Setting, Procrastination & More

They all have a lot of different reasons. Sometimes they’re intimidated. Sometimes there’s fear, as fear of criticism or fear of failure. There are a lot of the root reasons so I had to start digging around. I’m not one of those people who are like, “Entrepreneurs fail. That’s the reality.” You have to know why and of course, I want to help them because the saddest part of being a coach is when your clients fail and they didn’t do well. It’s not your fault. I’m not their father. I can’t make them. That was painful for me because it’s right around the corner. You can do so much better. It is hard to look at a person’s eyes when they’re in stress and do that next week and next week. Whereas I’m just the coach, I’m not the executor. If I was, I could have done it.

They have to help themselves and they don’t. That’s why I started working on these productivity skills. It’s the human issues that hold people back. Most businesses struggle from implosion, not competition. Not the outside force or sometimes it’s the outside forces but we do most of the damage to our businesses ourselves in a way. That’s why it’s all in the execution. Even in my Business Plan, the book, the most recent edit, I’m like, “The planning is fantastic. Go ahead and execute.” If you don’t execute, “Here’s what to look into why you’re not executing.” A lot of it is confidence. A lot of it is fear of failure, fear of being mocked by the naysayers, “I told you so.” Different people get affected by different things and so that’s why there are 50 skills now.

What’s the most common way that you help them to get over that hump, from not doing and procrastinating to getting into execution?

Different people need different prodding. There’s not a formula that works for everyone. As a coach, you have to use a little bit of emotional intelligence and try to understand. They might be telling you their story. Isn’t that true? They’re lying to themselves and you but you have to sense how receptive they are. Sometimes they need a little bit of toughness. I’m like, “Enough talking here. You’ve told me about your dreams ten times.” They’re like, “No, we have a plan.” “You’ve got to plan three times better than you need.” That’s it. For some people, it’s different. For some people, they lacked confidence. You have to build up confidence with little wins. I also grew up without that much confidence and nobody told me “You’re great.” They would be good. You have to build confidence with little wins and over time you’ll be like, “Look at me, I’ve got so many little wins and I’ve got momentum. It feels good.” When it feels good, they keep doing it. You’ve got to get them on that natural way. It’s a combination of some discipline, some habit-building, some of all of these little things like getting them motivated.

Breaking it down into smaller pieces sometimes help individuals to take that little step to get that quick win or the low-hanging fruit for businesses is to look where there’s low-hanging fruit for improvements and then to be able to leverage off of that quick win.

Quick wins can be really quick sometimes. Like in two seconds, if you change your facial expression to a more confident one, you will feel more confident. I’m sure everyone’s heard that when you smile, you feel a little better.

It releases hormones. They go to our brain that actually it’s impossible to smile and feel bad.

Sometimes physiology changes our mood and sometimes our mood causes our physiology. Now that we know this, all we have to do is change our physiology. Shoulders back, head up, chin up or whatever. All the basics. Everybody knows but nobody does it. Whenever you’re heading into a task, “I’ve got to start doing work,” you are confident and that’s the physiology. There’s a little bit of mindset stuff, but the confidence sometimes gives you enough to dare to try it. It doesn’t work for everyone but that’s at least the two-second effort.

Reflection is important to see where you’re adding value or where you can add more value. It helps allocate your time to be strategic. Click To Tweet

It comes back to the point that you talked about perseverance. That is added emotional intelligence that helps you stay in the path for perseverance.

In Napoleon Hill’s book, one of the major principles is confidence because without confidence, people aren’t decisive. They don’t jump in.

We’ve got to jump in. I always say that if you’re not in action, then you can’t reflect because you’re not getting any feedback. You’ve got to move in some direction one way or another. Take action and do that execution and then reflect and see what feedback you get so then you can course-correct and adapt. If you don’t move, you don’t get any feedback. Tell us what are you working on right now?

I’ve restrained for a long time from making confidence online course, but right now I’m creating a confidence online course. I’m building out this 50 productivity skills and confidence is one of them. I’m going to have a huge web of one-stop shops of these 50 skills. Anyone of them, if you become good at them, focus, confidence, time management and all these. There’s just one thing, but they can cause a tremendous boost in your business if that’s something that holds you back. For different people, different things hold them back, so you can pick and choose. I’m creating this thing. Right now I’m about to hit publish on the latest rewrite of my Business Plan book. I’m hoping to also rewrite the 20 Principles of Productivity and make it 50 principles. Hopefully, I don’t get more ideas and then when they will be like 100 and then it’s too much.

That’s a challenge. People are overwhelmed with the amount of strategies and information that are out there. Let’s take our health for instance. We are a less healthy society in general because there is so much different information about which way to eat is the right way to eat and so forth. Then it’s like, “I don’t even know.” I think we start to get that challenge around productivity and marketing. There is so much information out there. It would be so great if it could be simplified.

People do ask me for, “Give me more strategies.” I’m like, “No, do a couple but do them well.” You don’t want to be bad at a bunch of things. People start promoting their business. They do a little bit of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SEO and they fail. They’re like, “I did everything and nothing worked.” Because you did nothing well. Do one or two things really well. Become that top 1%, 2% or maybe top 5% executor.

We’ve been trained to do that. Look at the myriad of apps that are out there. I do want to know what tools you think are the top tools. If you think about it, there’s always a new app. It trains us to try this new app and then use it for a couple of weeks and then you fall off and then you find another app. I do think that we need to create a much greater consciousness of that consistency. When we start something, we have to ahead of time decide that this is not a two-week project, that this is something we’re committing to for six months. When you only pay it $0.99 or $4.99 for an app, there’s no skin in the game. It’s like, “I’ll get this app. I’ll try it for a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t work, I’ll get another one.” We should be charging $1,000 or $500 for an app and then there’s a little bit more skin in the game and people will commit to that tool.

TBT 63 | Productivity Principles

Productivity Principles: If people persist over time, they’ll become better than 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% of their competitors.


I’m not a big tool guy. If you find me the tool and I’m doing something wrong and I’m overcomplicating. I keep it simple. I keep things focused. I don’t have a piece of paper to-do list for the day. I know what to do. I have a year plan. It’s a big sheet of paper. I know exactly what I need to achieve. I don’t need a lot of strategies. I don’t have a lot of meetings. I don’t have a lot of people to manage. I do a few things, but I try to do them super well and I’m constantly self-critical. How can I do things better? For example, my courses, there were a bunch of things I improved in the last few months and there are a bunch of things I’m going to be improving while I keep re-filming. Even though it looks like I have a lot of courses, I’m focusing on a couple of few but I try and make them really good, top in niche. I don’t need productivity tool. I just need to do the work. I don’t get caught up in overplanning. I focus and streamline a few things well. I don’t need tools.

I’m with you because I’m not a big tool person either, but I do think that there are a handful of tools that especially as an entrepreneur with a lean organization, they do support you to automate certain processes and things like that. There’s got to be let’s say two to five tools that you do use. I’d love to hear what those are.

When I work, I have a piece of paper next to me. I take little notes. I have a to-do list for the day and then just cross things off. The one thing and it’s a technique, it’s not a tool. The day before, I know exactly what I’m going to do for the day after.

You’re doing your planning the day before. For tomorrow, you make your planning now.

I know exactly what my tasks are for tomorrow and I’m evaluating them right now. I’m like which one is important? What to take out? I know what mistakes I usually make. For example, tomorrow I’m doing a lot of filming. The editing for it is boring and I do my own editing right now.

Build up your confidence with little wins. Click To Tweet

Here’s an example. Where you could use an outsource site or something to support you in that, you choose to do a lot of the editing and social media posting and all of that, you do yourself.

I do zero social media posting.

There you go. You eliminated it entirely, so no need for a tool.

On the point of editing, it’s a fair point, I could hire someone and I would love to hire someone. Probably it would be wise of me. I think I’m still faster than if I had to hire an editor, but maybe I could be wrong on this.

You could be doing something else that’s even more important.

There’s a conversation there. We hit something here. Actually, it’s one of the things in my self-assessment. I’m like, “That could be very much next time. I need to start hiring freelancers.” Right now there’s a different thing I’m doing in my self-improvement, working on your business. I think you’re right. I am spending a boring amount of time on editing. It’s a good point.

It goes to your point about reflection. It’s to be taking a look at where are your skills and your focus best targeted so that you can deliver the biggest impact. It’s probably not video editing. There are specialists that specifically do that and could support that. For anybody who’s reading this, this is what I do in my reflection when I work with the clients. I have them go through and take a look at all the different things that they are doing and what are the opportunities that someone else could do. Maybe you can do it better and that’s always a possibility. What else could you be doing with that time if you could free up and eliminate 10% of the tasks that you do? What else would you be doing with your time? Then look at that cost benefit to spending your time more on that. For the audience, it’s a great if not first step, you don’t need to implement a new tool to get more efficient and effective. You need to take a step back and evaluate what you’re doing and what you need to be doing in order to reach your goals faster.

TBT 63 | Productivity Principles

Productivity Principles: The saddest part of being a coach is when your clients fail.


That’s a good point because it’s not a tool thing. It’s a common sense thing. You just have to notice it or find someone to do it and then that will be fantastic because it’s a part of my business. I’m one of those people that attention to detail is important even though I’m not a totally stickler guy.

In certain areas maybe you are.

I had to make myself at times because I’d love to be like, “It’s going to be cool.” My business is selling videos a lot of times. I have to make sure that there are no mistakes in there and things like that. I’ve been careful about it and it has been hard for me to let that go. You’re right, it would help me a lot and it would represent a big leap in my business if I hire a good video editor. For example, tomorrow I don’t have a video editor. The example I was going from is that when I try to plan my day, in the back of my mind now, I’m trying to think which videos that I’m going to film require less editing or which of them can be shorter or longer. Thinking of it now, about tomorrow helps me go over it partially subconsciously. It’s not every day that I get to talk about it.

It gives us focus and direction and helps you when you get up in the morning. You don’t have idle time where you’re like, “What am I going to do?” That fuzzy thinking where you’re like, “Let’s go.” The most productive time for most people is in the morning. Even though I know there are people who aren’t morning people, but there are all these studies that show we’re at our best in the morning when we wake up.

I am not a morning person. I like to stay up but I recognize the importance of being fresh in the morning. It makes a tremendous difference in productivity because if I go to sleep at a reasonable hour and get a good rest. I’m going to wake up at 6:00 the morning ready to go and excited. By noon, it’s like a work day that I’ve already had. I’m still going but by noon it’s like already a workday.

Sometimes I look up and it’s 8:00 and I’m already feeling super accomplished in the first two hours of the morning.

Recognize the importance of being fresh in the morning and it will make a tremendous difference in productivity. Click To Tweet

It’s exciting and you feel good. When you feel good, you do more work.

What are any parting thoughts that you’d like to leave the audience with?

When I coach entrepreneurs early in my career it was all about tactics, strategies, how can I grow now? It’s all struggle and stress-based. It’s important to take a step back and recognize the soft skills, like being able to give yourself confidence, focus, discipline or figuring out even how you’re going to sleep because that’s going to reflect on your day tomorrow. You might get twice more done. I recommend earlier rather than later focusing on those things. Regarding self-assessment, I actually recommend working with a coach but not somebody who rolls out of bed and says, “I’m an expert.” Someone who has a proven track record because everyone these days is a coach. We live in the social media world where everyone is giving everybody else advice that they didn’t do but they heard. Someone who has a proven track record in which they are doing. That’s the type of a mentor that is good to work with, especially for first-time entrepreneurs. It’s impossible to recognize good advice from bad because it all sounds pretty good.

You want to work with somebody who’s been there and done that, who can appreciate the challenges that you’re going through and knows what works and has proven strategies and approaches that are going to cut to the chase.

TBT 63 | Productivity Principles

Productivity Principles: When you feel good, you do more work.


A good coach can save you months of struggle and a lot of time and money. The other thing I’d also recommend is getting a few terms like, “I did something great or it’s great now.” Getting that out of your vocabulary and not criticizing yourself too much. That self-assessment and making it a part of your day because that’s going to make you better too.

I’m all about self-assessment. I do self-assessment myself. I have a number of tools that I’ve created that help people do that. I believe that you’re right. That’s pretty much what we reinforced in different types of conversation now. That can be your greatest productivity skill. That if you just hone that reflection process, then you’re going to be in that top 1% if you consistently take a step back and evaluate. Alex, thank you so much for being here. It was great having you. Tell our audience where they can find you and your courses.

Everything’s on my website, Problemio.com. It’s a weird website name that I had a long time ago, but it’s rooted in the problem. What problem is your business solving? That’s the original business question. All my contact information is there. My books are there and my courses are there. People are welcome to email me. I love hearing from people. I look forward to hearing from people.

Thank you, Alex. Thank you all for being here because you can walk away with that key strategy, which is to take a step back and reflect where you are on a regular basis. To plan the night before so that you know what it is that you’re doing and stop relying so much on technology and tools. Use those soft skills to take a step back and reflect and see where is the best use of your time? See what you can eliminate from your schedule and delegate, automate or eliminate in that context. Thank you all for being here. See you in the next episode. 

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About Alex Genadinik

TBT 63 | Productivity PrinciplesAlex Genadinik is a successful entrepreneur, 3-time bestselling Amazon author, and a business coach who has coached over 1,000 entrepreneurs, and a multiple time bestselling Udemy instructor. Alex helps people with entrepreneurship and business growth, specializing in business planning, strategy, SEO and advanced marketing strategies.



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