Author Archives: Kelly Isley

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Three Creative Ways to Improve Your Leadership Skills

Whether you aspire to scale a startup or run a Fortune 500 company, you need good skills to be successful. Here are three creative ways that you can develop your leadership skills that are budget-friendly and you can start to incorporate right now:

1.  Interview Someone You Admire 

Success leaves clues. That is one reason that grabbing a coffee, sending an email or asking for a phone call to tap the minds of the people you admire is so powerful. The good news is, most of the people you hold in high regard are successful for a reason and are only too happy to share their insights and advice to help others.

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It is also a great opportunity for you to see what life looks like at levels above your current role if the candidate leader is within your company. It can spur a great conversation about what is really required at the next level, help you see the larger picture – especially as it relates to the work that you do towards the broader scale.

Pro tip: If the candidate you have identified navigates a full schedule – send questions in advance and be patient as you are fit into their calendar. Often busy leaders will make the time to share thoughts with someone who has done their homework and has a concise set of talking points for the conversation.

2.  Turn Weakness Into Strengths

Recent studies from DDI which include data from more than 15,000 leaders recognize that while business degree programs develop a strong base of critical leadership skills, it is often an incomplete education. The skills where business degree-holders had a gap — compelling communication, driving for results, and inspiring excellence — may need to be developed outside of an academic program. In parallel, the data is a wake-up call for aspiring leaders to balance hard skills with human skills.

If you are looking to sharpen the human skills side of the equation, learning more about Emotional Intelligence is an important step forward.

For clever tips on preparing your speech and yourself for the stage, watch Jodie Fox, the Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Shoes of Prey in this video:

To understand how emotionally intelligent leaders boost the bottom line, view this important video with research by Daniel Goleman an internationally known psychologist.

Pro tip: Melissa Thompson, Forbes Contributor & Harcourt Health Editor reminds us to identify any skills you’re weak in and work to become better in these areas. Here’s a clever way of turning a weakness into a strength that Thompson uses.

3.  Identify A Key Project That Will Help Your Organization

Because the best ideas for innovation or cost savings often come from people executing the daily projects, this option is a win/win opportunity.

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By formally developing a project or initiative that would benefit your organization and then presenting to other leaders along with stakeholders, it will develop your ability to identify important opportunities along with the ability to “sell it” while influencing leadership.

Areas of success could range from ‘optimizing employee onboarding’ to ‘creating a process to capture innovative ideas’

A closer look at why an onboarding project would be important to several departments within an organization – PwC estimates that the cost of losing an employee in the first year can be up to three times the person’s salary. That’s a loss of £42bn ($63.3bn) in the UK alone.

These are significant figures. But what does this mean for your organizations future? It means that it is critical to invest in formal onboarding early on. The alternative is you’ll be contributing to the above figure (on a global basis) through employee turnover.

Looking Ahead

As your career progresses remember to develop your team.

Good individual contributors, as well as group managers, can deliver a project within budget and on time. A leader seeks to improve processes and enables team members to grow by taking on development opportunities. This includes providing the training and resources that help ensure their success within companies of all sizes.

Specifically, Princeton professor Derek Lidow, writes that it is critical in the scaling of a startup to “Provide people with opportunities for professional growth and career advancement. Unless individuals can grow, your company can’t. They will either leave or fail to create self-sustaining processes.”

Wrap Up

Do you have a favorite leadership development tip that has helped you in your career? If so, thanks in advance for taking a moment to share your thoughts with our audience by adding a comment below.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

 

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Write Emails That People Will Respond To

With professional email traffic exceeding more than 110 billion messages a day, most of us now have a backlog of unanswered messages. Despite this unanswered email trend, we get annoyed when others don’t respond to us, or reply in what seems to be a careless manner. So, how can we improve this situation?

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Follow along as Sevenshift CEO & McKinsey Advisor, Caroline Webb highlights how you can catch busy professional’s attention through email, and actually get a response.

Concise and Actionable

Caroline Webb’s brilliant, engaging best seller “How to Have a Good Day”, includes these five strategies that outline how to make your emails easier to understand and act on:

1.  Keep most emails to just a few lines if you can. Use simple language, short sentences, and snappy phrases. Save your rhetoric for your novel or your wedding speech.

2.  For unavoidable longer emails, break them up into short paragraphs and make them easy to navigate, maybe using bullets and headings.

3.  Highlight any action or decision that you’re asking the recipient to take. Assume he or she only has time to read the first couple of lines. What would you lead with?

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Lead with the Positive

When challenging issues have to be addressed inside of an email, pick an approach that won’t be misinterpreted. Here are two examples from Webb that begin on a positive note:

4.  Lead with solutions, not problems. Instead of saying “Unfortunately, our original idea isn’t going to work because…, so what we are going to do is…,” lead with your proposed solution: “What we think will work best is… That’s different from our original plan because…” Same content, different sequence, different emotional impact.

5.  Engage the recipient on why it matters. Suppose somebody’s done something wrong. What do you say? “This is a terrible mess. You absolutely have to fix it.” You’ll get action, but it might be based on defensive rather than smart thinking. Try this approach, which engages their reward system by inviting them to pursue the benefits of resolving the problem: “This is critically important for us to get right because of XYZ. What can you do to fix it?”

Check Your Timing

Now that you have a good idea of what to write, what is the best time to send your email?

Based on the analysis of 10 studies by Nathan Ellering at CoSchedule, get ready to prioritize your send days of critical email in this order:

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Tuesday – This is hands down the #1 best day to send emails according to the majority of the data from these studies.

Thursday – If you send two (sets of critical) emails a week, choose Thursday for your second day.

Wednesday – While no single study showed that Wednesday was the most popular, it came in second place several times.

While many of the studies found varying results, here is how you can prioritize your send times based on data:

10 a.m.: While late-morning send times were the most popular in general, several concluded that the best time to send emails is at 10 a.m. Another notable time is 11 a.m.

8 p.m.-midnight: This one surprised me and I bet you didn’t expect that one. It looks like emails generally receive more opens and clicks later in the evening. As Campaign Monitor notes, this is likely due to people checking their email before going to bed.

Bringing Everything Together

In the comments section that follows, take a moment to share one of your favorite tips that have helped you capture busy professional’s attention through email.

 

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

Four Ways to Boost Your Morning Routine

Are you looking for ways to improve your morning routine? Based on psychologist Ron Friedman studies – it’s a smart move. As Friedman confirms, the first three hours of your day are the most precious for maximized productivity.

“Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused. We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well,” Friedman shares with Harvard Business Review.

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For inspiration, take a look at four routines of these successful leaders as well as a clever video spotlighting some of the busiest people out there and what they do to save time:

Exercise and leverage technology to maximize your scheduleDr. Peter Diamandis, New York Times best-selling author and XPRIZE Foundation founder is on a mission to open the space frontier for humanity. His personal motto is: “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”

So how does this innovator optimize his morning? In his recent discussion with Josh Ellis at Success, Diamandis explained that his office is equipped with a treadmill that he uses during teleconferences since he values exercise and has a hard time sitting still. He also took the advice of colleagues and is enjoying Audible. It’s the app that is helping Diamandis catch up on his reading and travels with him as he continues chasing his dreams.

” Pro tip: Join Jessica Herrin CEO of Stella & Dot, Professor Adam Grant of Wharton, Vicky Schiff Partner at Mosaic Real Estate, James Segil of Co-Founder of Edgecast Networks with others, interviewed by Radiate, as these high-powered people reveal what they are doing to take back time.”

Identify and work on your priorities – As one of CNN’s most popular commentators, Mel Robbins has mastered the ability to turn complicated topics into memorable sound bites. She also has a simple and effective morning routine that includes doing a “brain dump” for 5 to 10 minutes without opening that inbox on your phone, laptop or other computers. For Robbins, “This consists of dumping all your projects, to-dos, reminders and priorities onto a piece of paper. Then highlight the top three things on the list that you need to deal with today, things that matter most to you.”

Even if you are facing a full schedule, “this starts your day by focusing on what’s important to you. I make my notes in a 3-by-5-inch notebook that I carry everywhere so I can continue brain-dumping all day.”

“Next—still without visiting that inbox—open your calendar and find a 30-minute block in your day when you can focus on your top three things uninterrupted. It doesn’t matter when that block happens; find the time and schedule it.”

Work on the hardest task first – In his own words, Niraj Ranjan Rout, Co-Founder and CEO of Hiver, shares, “I am a meditation person – a few minutes in the morning really helps clear the head. Before starting for work, I make sure to check my email and plan a top-heavy day – the difficult tasks first.”

An important strategy and reminder from Niraj, “It is crucial to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve during the day – before you leave home.”

Plan a task that you will look forward to working on  – In her recent Entrepreneur article, Amna Shamim writes, “When you’re dreading the hard work you have to do, do something fun first in order to ease into work and to have something, initially, that you look forward to. I alternate my ‘boring/hard’ tasks with ones I find fun or easy.”

“An example? I love reading articles about high-level SEO tactics, but don’t feel the same way about keyword research for clients. I alternate articles I’ve stockpiled with finding 10 solid keywords.”

“For every 10 keywords I can find that meet my stringent criteria, I get to pick a fun article to consume. This is my personal method of combining positive reinforcement with actual productivity.”

Now it’s your turn

In the comments section that follows, take a moment to share one of your favorite morning routines that have helped you be more successful.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

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How to Keep Your Boss Happy and Add Value

Bosses are important because many employees have bosses, are bosses, or may play both roles. If you find yourself in one of these categories, you are in good company as Stanford research indicates there are at least 21 million bosses in the United States today.

Despite staggering numbers of people in charge, the mission is simple: make your boss’ role easier, become indispensable and help them meet their objectives. Since this mission may be easier said than done, tips on building your relationship with your boss follow.

Be the effective communicator

Bosses have full schedules, crowded inboxes, and appreciate concise communication. For perspective, the average office worker now sends or receives 121 emails a day, according to a recent report by the Radicati Group. Translation: your Boss potentially receives more than 121 emails each day. To be heard by your boss, speak and write in brief sentences, use the smallest amount of words possible to get your point across (e.g., key messages), and make that point clear and easy to understand.

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Be the go-getter

With a little direction, self-motivated employees are the go-getters that take the lead on assignments or research details before important meetings. Sara Nichols, Senior Vice President at Kforce Inc. says these self-starters can help their bosses save time and allow them to focus on other areas.

“Employees that routinely rise to new challenges and demonstrate a high degree of self-motivation, tend to get recognized when the opportunity for advancement is presented,” says Nichols.

Be informed

It is important to understand the operation of your organization. If you are new to the company or are now ready to learn more, start by familiarizing yourself with the organizational chart and reporting structures. Follow this with a review of the top customers as well as the profit and loss to understand the financials. This will make your more valuable to your boss in the near term and allow you grow into a role that a fluid workforce may create as time progresses. Learn as much as you can along the way as the ability to adapt to change is a valuable skill in today’s workforce.

Be supportive of professional goals

Certainly, a primary job of any employee is to make the boss’s life easier. Just like you, your boss has professional goals that he or she is trying to accomplish, Al Coleman Jr. lawyer, professor and author reminds us; “Find out what’s on your boss’s plate, and see how you can help to lighten the load.”

Be the ambassador

If questions can be answered better in the field, schedule the trip. I was speaking with a senior leader in the high-tech industry and he shared a clever tip that helped him expand a relationship with a non-technical boss. His two-part action included field visits as well as periodic 1:1 briefings with his boss who was new to his industry. As an added benefit of spending time, to help his boss understand the technical issues on the job, this high-tech leader was able to expand his business acumen as his new boss was assigned to lead a large organization for obvious reasons.

In the end, your boss has a role to cover, projects to lead, and initiatives to execute—and they hired you because they want you to help make these efforts successful. Based on your experience, do you have a tip or expert insight that has helped you build a positive relationship with your boss? If so, please share your professional tip with the audience by adding a comment below.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

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To Move Up, Think Beyond Your Current Role

Increased earnings, added career satisfaction and looking forward to the day ahead can all be perks of capturing your next promotion. These 5 pieces of advice can help you make that happen.

  1. Manage your boss

“Managing up,” instructs Bob Pozen, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, “does not mean manipulating your boss. It means establishing a mutually beneficial partnership. You want to become resources for each other.” This wisdom is a reminder that it is critical to strengthen the working bond with your boss. Wondering how to get started? Begin by analyzing what the boss pays attention to and expects from you and your peers. It is also important to understand the best way to relate to your leader. In other words, how do they want to be kept informed of important news (e.g., call, text, urgent email?). A third action; learn which people influence them the most inside or outside of the organization. By knowing this, it can help you identify a future partner or set of allies needed to gain approval in larger or more critical efforts.

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  1. Identify what you want and put it in writing

Set aside time to write out your career goals, review on a regular basis and make plans to accomplish them. For everyone who thinks this act is simple, the insight from Harvard’s study on goal setting may surprise you. Following decades of research, the study shows that successful people reach their career goals not because of who they are, but often because of what they accomplish.

Here is an excerpt from the iconic Harvard study. In 1979, interviewers for Harvard’s MBA Program asked new graduates “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

The findings:

84% had no specific goals at all

13% had goals but they were not committed to paper

3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

As a follow on, in 1989, the interviewers again met with the graduates of that class. Study results: The 13% of the class who had undocumented goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. Another important discovery: the 3% who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% put together.

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  1. Work across borders

Today’s high potential candidates work effectively with diverse teams and build common ground quickly. Further, successful leaders with experience in more than one country are increasingly considered as valuable as their specialties. Looking closer at trends and the global DDI study, CEO’s have named cultural competence as one of the top critical skills they want leadership teams to have. The surprising reality gap DDI uncovered: only 34% of leaders in the study ranked working with people from different cultures as a true strength.

Interested in learning how you can capture a global experience or build on what you have? Take on a short-term assignment at your organization’s office in another country. Unable to leave home or not with a company that has an international presence? Serve on a team or committee through a professional association or non-profit with international members. Make the most of this opportunity by preparing in advance through books such as ‘The Culture Map’ by Professor Erin Meyer or at a minimum spend time researching the culture of your new team members.

  1. Get a sponsor and be a sponsor

Your success will certainly be built on hard work and many great leaders will tell you that they could never have reached their position without having mentors or sponsors along the way. If you are curious how mentors and sponsor differ, Gordon Nixon, the respected former chief executive of Royal Bank of Canada, explains the contrast to the Financial Times: “We’ve all had mentors who have offered advice, but sponsors are the people inside our company who have helped us get to senior levels. Sponsors are what you really need to succeed.”

Although you won’t always know who your sponsors are, it is important to understand that they will advocate for you in the workplace when you need to be more visible. Ultimately, your legacy relates to your perceived success in an organization, so actively make an effort to build relationships and prove your value-add to your organization. Word to the wise – this may translate into handling unfamiliar projects or volunteering to deal with the most difficult customer, in order for you to grow as a leader. Another growth opportunity includes paying it forward, which includes keeping an eye out for someone whom you can sponsor. As being a sponsor is rewarding and may even open doors for your next career move.

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  1. Continue learning while earning

Expanding your knowledge base can improve your confidence and earnings. Thinking of heading back for an advanced degree or an executive program? You will be in good company as a recent Georgetown University report focused on those of us who learn while earning, cites college enrollment increasing from 2 million to 20 million in 60 years. If you enjoy reading and want to gain good business advice, here are 4 books worth reviewing: ‘Secrets of the Superbosses’ by Sydney Finkelstein, ‘Act Like A Leader Think Like A Leader’ by Herminia Ibarra, ‘Collective Genius’ by Linda A. Hill & Greg Brandeau plus ‘How to Get a Meeting with Anyone’ by Stu Heinecke.

Wrap up

Do you have a favorite tip that has helped you move your career forward? If so, take a moment to share your thoughts with our audience by adding a comment below. Here’s to your continued success.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

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Secrets to Leading Effective Global Teams

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, global talent mobility levels have increased by 25% over the last decade and they predict a further 50% growth by 2020. Which means in the next decade the ability of organizations to manage their global talent efficiently will mark the difference between success and failure.

To get ahead of this challenge, follow along as recognized experts share how they hire, lead and retain the very best global talent in today’s competitive marketplace.

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Build The Right Global Team

In her recent HBR article “Hire the Best and Let Them Work from Wherever They Are,” Cassandra Frangos, Vice President of Cisco’s Global Executive Talent outlines the right things to look for when hiring a remote, global team member:

1. Assess whether the person is independent, passionate about their work, and collaborative. In addition, the most important experience this individual should have is past success working remotely. Find out how they made it work and double down on the due diligence.

2. Consider the individual’s leadership style and how they project themselves. In order to make an impression from afar, they need to stand out in a crowd and be an advocate for their ideas.

3. Take a close look at the manager to whom they will report. Remote employees need someone who will advocate for them regardless of where they live.

Pro Tip: The last part of hiring people who are going to work remotely is knowing when it won’t work. There are some jobs where the location is fixed. In some companies, for instance, the head of sales needs to work in close proximity to the CEO. For other mission-critical positions, it is necessary to be face to face with local accounts or available for the community.

Words That Work

Paul Berry, Founder & CEO of RebelMouse shares what he has learned in his 15 years of managing remote, global teams. Here are three tips that I have personally adopted:

1. Live and breathe your email and make sure the team does too – the only way I’ve found that works is when everyone on the team keeps their inboxes open and checks emails as their absolute highest priority. Without that we operate blindly to each other since there is no tapping someone on the shoulder as there would experience in an office.

2. Give the benefit of the doubt – my team has huge cultural and language differences (although everyone does have a working knowledge of English as the basic way we communicate). We all were raised with different ways of approaching projects, handling conflict resolution, etc. It’s essential that we forgive each other constantly for odd grammar, odd behavior and instead try to make the beauty of building something together lift us above any confusion.

3. Be intentionally positive – It is too easy for things to sound negative in an email. Without tone, body language or anything else, it’s extra important to make sure emails don’t turn into hurt feelings. Sarcasm and deadpan humor can come across the wrong way (especially because humor doesn’t always translate across cultures). But being friendly and approachable – even if it means using lots of emoticons – is always welcome. I try to encourage my team to be overly friendly in their emails, even if it means they sound less “businesslike.”

Improve Team Culture

Melinda Emerson, author and recognized business owner shares “If your team is [or a portion of them are] working virtually like my marketing & sales teams are, leverage technology such as Skype, join.me, and google hangout so you can be ‘face-to-face,’ for certain meetings and try to plan an event not related to work where you get together in real time at some point during the year. You’d be amazed at how spending time together and not just talking about work can really strengthen your bond. Another important reminder from Ms. Emerson: “Invest in your team and they will protect your business.”

Know Your Audience

INSEAD Professor Erin Meyer’s timeless CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria reinforces the importance of cultural awareness and perception as leaders expand their global teams through the potential treacherous terrain.

Timing & Next Steps

Two additional resources worth mentioning include: world clock and the global holiday calendar from Time & Date. These are handy links for anyone working across time zones. Now it’s your turn. Do you have tips or resources that have helped you work in different cultures and get things done? If so, thanks in advance for joining the conversation and sharing insight via the comment section below.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

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Important Things Successful People Do Each Weekend

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Each two day weekend has 2,880 minutes that successful people maximize. So, how do they spend their off duty moments? Follow along as we take a closer look at tips and strategies that will prepare you to take Monday by storm.

1.  Write down a simple agenda

Although it’s the weekend, a plan is essential. It doesn’t have to be a detailed schedule – even a loose agenda will work. The goal is for you to prioritize (vs. overschedule) and make the most of your moments so you can spend time on things that bring meaning into your life. The best way to do this: limit chores and commitments so you begin Monday recharged.

2.  Set aside time for those important to you

Spending time with loved ones is critical. It may be your extended family, immediate family, pets, or friends that bring you joy. The key is to connect with them during the 2,880 minutes. In her books, time management expert, Laura Vanderkam reveals subtle secrets to restorative and productive weekends. Here’s a closer look: happy families often have special activities they do most weekends that don’t require special planning—Friday night pizza, a walk to religious services, Sunday morning pancakes. “These habits are what become memories,” she writes. “And comforting rituals boost happiness.”

3.  Be daring and pursue your passion

Go ahead and sign up for that class, start training for that hike, learn a second language, or find a mentor this weekend. Successful people are intriguing people with great pursuits and experiences (that might lead to an important business opportunity). As an example, Kevin Plank had a passion for sports and the spirit of an entrepreneur that would eventually launch Under Armour.

4.  Get moving

Several Harvard Medical School studies indicate that exercise goes beyond strengthening your body – it actually builds your mind as well. Interesting in easing into an exercise routine over the weekend? A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days out of 7, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. Another example of a low impact strategy to help everyone successfully take care of their health.

5.  Escape the grid

Carve out a period of time and turn off all your technology screens: phone, laptop, TV, and tablet. Even a short break will create space for important things in your life. From another perspective, a 2016 research study by Harris revealed that 6 out of 10 Americans wish their family members would unplug from technology more often. Many Americans (45 percent) do make an effort to unplug from technology at least once a week or more with only 16 percent attempting to escape connectivity every day.

6.  Always be learning

By learning something new this weekend, you can expand your knowledge base and improve your confidence. Spend a few minutes and identify a subject you’re interested in or an area you want to explore more deeply. From there, you can sign up for a weekend class or online study or make your own learning plan. Taking a closer look at online learning, you can get advice from some of the best minds in entrepreneurship and business by taking a few simple steps. Here’s one – in July, you’ll find many of the top massive open online course (MOOC) offered by leading universities here.

7.  Plan for a successful week ahead

As Sunday afternoon approaches, invest a few moments in planning and prepare for the upcoming week so you will be ready to take Monday by storm.

Wrap up

Many successful people define a good weekend as time meant to refuel your spirit and prepare you for whatever the week ahead has in store. Do you agree with this definition or have one of your own to share? If so, we look forward to seeing your comments added to the section that follows. Enjoy the weekend ahead.

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Salary Negotiation Strategies to Use Today

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The ability to negotiate a competitive salary is a critical skill to have during the interview process; it is also a talent that will benefit you throughout your career. If you are like many employees taking on additional responsibility, working longer hours, and not seeing any improvement in your salary – it may be time to request a salary increase. So, how can you improve your chances of a successful negotiation? Follow these 4 steps to make a good case:

Step No. 1 – Do your homework. Begin this action by talking with professional recruiters and checking comparable roles listed online to help you determine which salary range you will fit into. A few sites to check for competitive salary information include: Glassdoor, Careerbliss, Salary and Indeed.

Step No. 2 – Track your successes. Make a solid list of your contributions and have it handy during the salary negotiation. Consider where you have delivered return on investment for your company. For example: Have you saved your employer money or streamlined processes to be more efficient? Captured additional clients or expanded an account that was outside of the sales plan? Or have you delivered a new initiative on time and on budget? Also, you can capture specific comments from colleagues as well as other leaders that detail what types of accomplishments you have made that added to the bottom line. By tracking and sharing these examples you will be making a stronger case for a salary increase.

Step No. 3 – Be flexible and practice. Before you approach your leadership about a raise, know exactly what you want. Another critical action is to practice your discussion and key messages in advance of your meeting. Who can help you prepare? Schedule a practice session or role play discussion with a trusted family member or mentor. Also be ready to be flexible. As an example: if you ask for a 10 percent salary increase and you are told that there is no money in the budget; perhaps you can negotiate a non-cash benefit that would include an extra week of vacation, flex time, or stock options. If all else fails, this is the time to ask your leader if you can discuss a raise in salary 6 months from now, when the company is in better financial shape or when the organizations budget discussions have been finalized.

Step No. 4 – Time it right. Take note on how your company is doing financially and within industry. Do this by answering the following questions: have recent budget cuts taken place? Were layoffs or reductions in force recently announced? If any of these or related negative actions have taken place – it is not the right time to ask for a raise in salary. Although it is a good time to continue tracking your successes and update your resume with recent accomplishments.

By following these steps you will be better positioned and prepared to ask for the salary you deserve. Do you have comments or additional tips regarding salary negotiations? Continue the conversation in the comments section following this article.

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Five Ways to Conquer Stress and Be Happier

Today’s challenge in the battlefield of life: stress and anxiety are affecting 40 million adults in the U.S. age 18 or older, based on studies by the National Institute of Mental Health. So how can you begin conquering stress today, before it impacts – or further impacts your life?

Follow along to discover ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will you help manage stress — exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and capture enough sleep.

For the love of dogs

Tired of the elliptical or bike? Inside the Harvard Medical School report, “Get Healthy, Get a Dog,” experts highlight the many health and social benefits of having a dog, including reducing stress, being more active, and promoting social connection. As an introduction to the study, the University has created a video that spotlights a few prominent members of Harvard’s canine community. In addition, Elizabeth Pegg Frates, clinical assistant professor at the Medical School, shares study insight and how dog’s might be a wonderful addition to any community.

Key findings: ongoing research is showing that the health benefits of owning a dog are undeniable. Harvard Medical School reminds us that dog owners have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels, as well as a lower risk of heart disease, than non-owners. There are also many psychological benefits to having a canine around. Dog owners are less prone to bouts of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Simply petting your dog can make you feel less stressed.

Tackle a full schedule in the office

It is true that a bad diet can impact your stress levels and overall mental health. Even the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is now reinforcing the message. To improve lunch, vending machines visits, and late night fast food runs during the week consider:

Rethinking the working lunch – Based on a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate lunch while playing or working on their computers, ended up eating more cookies (30 minutes later) than those who escaped their screen. Tactic: carve out 15 minutes and head to a conference room or outdoors for lunch versus eating in front of your computer. A reduced stress level and smaller waistline will be your reward.

Snacking smarter – The clock has struck 3 p.m. and your stomach is rumbling – is it time to visit the office vending machine? Actually it is fine to eat something to hold you over until dinner according to several Nutritionists. Tactic: head to the vending machine and choose a low-calorie cookie pack or a natural granola bar versus the supersized candy bar. Interested in saving time and money? Bring a healthy snack from home.

Locating healthy fast food – Working late and need a quick healthy dinner? Tactic: If fast food is the only option take a minute to look at the restaurant’s nutrition facts on the web before you go. This way you can make an informed choice and avoid a stressful last minute decision.

Evict those monsters under the bed

Which came first – the monsters, stress or poor sleep? The order may depend on your age, although if you had a terrible night’s sleep, you are not alone. Instead, you join 45% of American’s that experienced a poor sleep. Further, the National Sleep Foundation’s inaugural Sleep Health Index™ notes, that a terrible night’s sleep also impacts daily activities for the same group in a one week period. Taking a closer look, shows us The Sleep Health Index™ along with University studies indicate that losing only a few hours of sleep will increase stress, exhaustion, sadness and worst of all anger in the majority of us. So, win the battle with sleep deprivation by adopting these tips from the Nation Sleep Foundation tonight.

Moving forward

Do you have a favorite tip that has helped you win the battle against stress? If you do, take a moment to share your thoughts with our audience by adding a comment below.

Need more help? If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

1 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

2 – Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room

3 – Call your physician, health provider or clergy

4 – Contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness www.nami.org 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

timing and stopwatches

Four productivity tips that you can start using today

When you combine planning and discipline together, things get done. Looking for ways to streamline your schedule? Follow along as we review a set of clever productivity tips from four experts who know how to make the most of 1440 minutes in each of their days.

Look forward
Recognized author and speaker, Laura Vanderkam shares “Plan your weeks before you are in them. Friday afternoons are a great time for this. Make a 3-category priority list: career, relationships, self. Making a 3-category list reminds you that there should be something in all 3 categories! It can be short, 2-3 things in each, but listing these priorities, and plotting them in to the next 168 hours, greatly increases the chances they get done.”

Productive technology
Today show and CNN tech contributor Carley Knobloch enjoys writing with pen and paper. However, she has a smart solution on how you can move handwriting into the digital age. “Evernote’s brilliant app organizes your notes and makes them searchable, even when they’re handwritten. That’s why its collaboration with Moleskine is perfect: pick your journal, enjoy jotting, then use Evernote to upload your work. The app is optimized to take pictures of Moleskine pages, and the notebook comes with three months of Evernote Premium, which means you’ll be able to upload more doodles and brainstorms per month, and even access them offline.”

Helping hand
In his book Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World, Michael Hyatt reminds us “If you’re like the average business person, your workload is overwhelming you. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, but you keep losing time to email, billing, scheduling, transcription, and more administrative details than you can manage. You’re drowning. Hiring a virtual assistant maybe just the solution you have been waiting for.” In Platform, as well has one of his eBook’s, Michael Hyatt explains how a virtual assistant enables him to come up for air and offload the work he doesn’t enjoy, so he can focus on what he does best.

Timeless insight
If you are focused on moving ahead in your career, Gary Keller’s remarkable book The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, is an excellent guide that will save you time. Inside he shares studies and wisdom along with thought provoking questions such as “What’s the ONE Thing I can do today to complete my current project ahead of schedule…?; “What’s the ONE Thing I can do this month to produce better work…?; and for moving to the next level: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do before my next review to get the raise I want…?” A book recommended for everyone who is ready to see how the ONE Thing can streamline their move forward.

Next step
Do you have a favorite tip that saves you time during the week? If so, take a moment to share your thoughts with our audience by adding a comment below. Here’s to more productive days ahead.