Aliveatwork's Blog

How to Increase Your Time & Energy R-O-I

I was flying home after attending an amazing conference, the National Speakers Association Annual Convention. For the last 4 days I have been expanding my knowledge base by studying and listening to some of the best speakers in my profession.

As I poured over my multiple pages of notes on the flight home, I came to the realization that not one single idea matters … until I take action to implement it into my business.

It’s been said that knowledge is power. If that is true, then we should all be powerful beyond measure. The internet allows us access to more information now, than at any other time in the history of the world!

The truth is that most of us possess more knowledge than we need to be wildly successful. And yet … so many people wallow in mediocrity.

Why? Because they fail to consistently execute on the actions that really make a difference in their businesses. It is easy to get distracted by the “other” things that dilute their results.

So that got me thinking …

What if … you agreed to limit your focus on the 3 most productive ideas or actions each and every day?

I know what you’re thinking … 3 …. just 3 … you mean like 1, 2, 3 and stop? Are you serious?

The key to getting a higher return on investment (R-O-I) of your time and energy (T & E) is to consistently take action on the most important and impactful tasks.

Here’s how …

7 Steps for Increasing your Time & Energy  R-O-I:

  1. Make a complete list of all of the things you want and need to accomplish for today.
  2. Mark a letter D next to all the things you can delegate, along with the  person’s name who can take ownership of the task (delegate it)
  3. Prioritize the remaining tasks in order of importance by placing an A, B, or C, in front of each task according to its importance (you should have multiple A’s, B’s, and C’s) If you have all A’s you have a serious problem … start over!
  4. Now rank the A’s in order according to their impact and importance. For example A1, A2, A3, A4, etc. You should only have one number for each A. Then do the same for the B’s (B1, B2, etc. and the C’s).
  5. Now as Nike says … just DO IT! Start at A1 and work your way down the list.
  6. Complete this exercise daily for the next 2 weeks.
  7. At the end of 2 weeks … do it for another 2 weeks!

The idea here is that if you are consistently taking action on the 3 most important tasks each and every day, the most important tasks will continuously rise to the top. The less important tasks will be pushed to the bottom or need to be moved off the list.

And when you do … 

Not only will you accomplish more than you ever have, you will experience the ultimate R-O-I on your time and energy.

Yes knowledge can be power … ONLY when it is combined with ACTION.

So now that you know this … what are you waiting for?

Be the Ball … not the Egg!

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

There has been much debate about whether Humpty Dumpty was actually an egg … or not. The point here is that whatever he was, he certainly didn’t bounce back from his fall.

On any given day, we might be met with news or information that we dread.

It might be personal in nature – Maybe it’s a discouraging lab report, the bank didn’t approve the loan restructure, a phone call informing us that someone we love passed away, or someone we love is walking away.

Maybe it’s a business related matter – We didn’t get the contract renewal, we lost the big order, we didn’t get our dream job, we lose what we thought was a great job, or one of our star employees hands us their resignation letter and says “I’m leaving,”

Whatever the situation, whatever the circumstance, how we frame the event and what we make that event mean in our minds determines our ability to bounce back from adversity.

Yes, we may be in a painful place at that moment in time. However, we don’t have to stay in that painful place forever!

Sometimes the difference between bouncing back and breaking are the choices we make. To trust or not to trust … that is the question!

Sometimes you just have to trust: 

TRUST that things will get better. There will always be better opportunities, relationships, contracts, employees, or jobs. We will always find what we set our focus on – focus on what you want.

TRUSTthe process. Believe that everything unfolds exactly as it need to be. It doesn’t matter if we agree with the current situation, facts, decision, or whether or not we like how it is unfolding. Always trust the process.

TRUSTand let go. Sometimes we have to let go of people, jobs, relationships, opportunities, or something we love so that we can make room for something or someone new.

Your ability to trust and the depth of your trust determines your ability and the speed in which you will bounce back!

In other words … be the ball … not the egg!

A Nudge … Towards Greatness?

Recently I attended the National Speakers Association (NSA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, California. For those of you who don’t know NSA is an organization made up of some of the world’s best professional speakers.

Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Les Brown, Dr. Norman Vincent Peal, and Og Mandino are just a few of its legendary members.

As I sat listening to some of the current greats in the business, I found myself in a state of awe and fascination. Not necessarily because of the words they spoke, but more so by the delivery of those words … precise, accurate, perfectly timed, perfectly pitched, and eloquently spoken.  I saw myself as a student sitting at the feet of the masters, watching their magic unfold.

During a breakout session, one of the speakers from the main stage asked his audience why we chose his particular session. One of the audience members replied, it’s because you seemed relaxed, easy going, non-rehearsed, and not as polished as some of the other speakers while you delivered your message on the main stage.

The speaker replied, it has taken me 30 years to perfect my speaking, I have spent a lot of money on speaking coaches, mentors, theatre coaches, and worked extremely hard to be able to present that way, so please don’t think that it was easy or unintentional.

And that had me thinking:

Am I working as hard as I need to in order to be great … in my business?

A mentor and friend of mine by the name of Nido Qubein once said, “We are so busy being good that we don’t take the time to become great!”

3 Questions:

  1. Are you continually learning and studying how to be a great leader, sales professional, or whatever your chosen profession might be?
  2. Have you become comfortable being … good enough but not great?
  3. What action do you need to take in order to take your business or your life to a level of greatness?

Inside each and every one of us is the seed of greatness. Sometimes it just needs a little nudge in order to break through the surface and begin the journey upward towards its destiny … consider this a nudge!

Change … an About F.A.C.E.

Life and it’s circumstances continuously offers us opportunities to change. Change might means that we need let go of the past and move forward. It could mean that we need a  new perspective on an old problem, a new idea, or simply the willingness to change by trying something different. Regardless of the change that may need to take place in our lives, the fact is that each of us deals with change in a different manner.

The good news is that we have choices in how we F.A.C.E change. We can:

  1. Fear it –  We can run, we can hide, we can pretend like it’s not happening and that we don’t have to change.
  2. Accept it – We can agree that it’s there and that maybe, possibly, someday, we might have to adapt … or not.
  3. Challenge it – We can confront it, fight it, and try to convince ourselves and everybody else around us why it     doesn’t apply to us or why we don’t need to change.
  4. Embrace it – We can wrap our arms around it and look for the gifts that this new opportunity might bring us.
So which do you choose most frequently? Do you find yourself clinging to the past, hoping that nothing will change? Or do you lean so far into the change that you can’t go back?
A few questions …
  1. What would you do if you could not fail?
  2. What if you believed that you were so powerful that you could change your life TODAY!
  3. What if you made a decision to not just F.A.C.E. change but actually embraced it?
Now wouldn’t that be something!

How Do You Respond To Your Constituents (Customers)?

Elected officials like Sales Professionals some times forget who their customer’s are  …

Recently I received an email from my favorite Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio asking for support on a local bill that would force the local Phoenix government to be more efficient in spending our tax dollars. He requested that we email, phone, or fax, our local representatives asking for their support of the bill.

What follows are 5 responses I received from 3 different representatives. 3 of them never even bothered to respond.

Which one is most typical of the way you respond to your constituents?

Response #1 – Telling Your Customer They Don’t Matter – Judy Burges (the complete response):

“You can quit writing as I am told that the bill will be assigned to my committee today and we will hear it next week.   Judy Burges”

My reply to Judy Burges:

Dear Judy,

Thank you for taking the time to respond, I understand that you are very busy AND I would’ve preferred a response that said something like, “Thank you for taking the time to write about this very important bill ….” Instead of one that started by saying “You can quit writing …”


Joe Contrera

Response #2 – The Auto Respond Brush Off  – Just another way of telling your customer they don’t matter – Judy Burgess:

Thank you for e-mailing the City of Phoenix Mayor/Council office. Because of a public records request, your e-mail also will be reviewed by the Arizona Republic. If your e-mail contains information that you believe is confidential and should not be released, please immediately call 602-262-7029 for assistance. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Response #3 – The Delegated Appear To Be Sincere Missing Punctuation Response – Councilman Anonymous:


The councilman appreciates your sending this

My reply to councilman anonymous’ assistant:

Stephanie thanks for the reply … which Councilman is replying?


Joe Contrera

Response #4 – The Auto Respond Brushoff – Councilman Anonymous:

Thank you for e-mailing the City of Phoenix Mayor/Council office. Because of a public records request, your e-mail also will be reviewed by the Arizona Republic. If your e-mail contains information that you believe is confidential and should not be released, please immediately call 602-262-7029 for assistance. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Response #5 – The You Matter Thanks For Writing Response – Steve Montenegro

Thank you for your input on this bill; I support it and I will continue to support it as it works it’s way through the Legislature.  Thanks for your input.

Here to Serve,

Steve Montenegro
Speaker Pro-Tempore
Arizona House of Representatives
Legislative District 12

My response to Steve Montenegro:

Steve thanks so much for your response, it is appreciated! Keep up the good work!

Joe Contrera


Everyday your customers have an opportunity to vote on whether or not they want to do business with you.

That’s why every email, every detail, every sales call, every interaction, that you or anyone in your company has with your customers needs to insure the customer has an extraordinary experience. You have to continuously give them a reason to vote for you and your company.

REMEMBER: Customers can have short term memory loss when it comes all the good things that you do for them. However they have memories like elephants when it when it comes to the bad experiences they may have had with you or your company.

You have to give them as many reasons as possible to vote for you again and again and again … besides you’ve worked to hard to get into their office!

One last thing …  So which representatives do you think I will choose to do business within the next election?


CYA … Choose Your Attitude!

Sometimes thing happen life that don’t feel good, we don’t like, or we don’t understand why this had to happen to us.

The truth is that even though we may not like what happened we can always choose how we will respond to that particular situation or event. We choose what we make it mean and what we make it means determines our attitude.

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is simply another way for saying that you’re choosing a bad attitude. The attitude you choose each and every morning can determine the quality of your day,  your week, your month, and your year.  The average person living in the United States will experience approximately 28,616 mornings. That’s 28,616 opportunities to wake up on the right side of the bed.

American author and clergymen Chuck Swindoll said this about attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

So what about you, how’s your attitude? Do you choose your attitude or do you give your power away and let someone or some external factor determine your attitude?

5 Things You Can Do To Shift Your Attitude:

  1. Decide: make a decision to choose differently. Remember that you hold the power to determine your attitude. Doing this will bring the power inside of you instead of allowing an outside factor to determine your attitude and your results.
  2. Do something physical, exercise, go for a walk just move! Physical activity can shift your attitude and get you moving forward.
  3. Pet Therapy … in other words go spend time with a pet. If you’ve ever noticed, animals, particularly dogs, don’t walk around with bad attitudes they just want to play. They want to chase a stick and bring it back, they want to play with their friends or the friend at the park they haven’t met yet. Watch them, observe them, you might learn something!
  4. If you wake up in the morning on the wrong side of the bed. Get undressed crawl back into bed and roll over to the other side and get out on that side telling yourself, “this is the side I needed to get out on, this is perfect!”  You think I’m kidding … I’m not! It’s called anchoring and it’s about tying a physical object or activity to a different way of thinking.
  5. Affirmations: before you go to sleep at night, tell yourself that tomorrow you’re going to wake up rested, refreshed , and with an attitude of joy and happiness regardless of what happens!

A  Brooklyn New York homemaker born in 1927 who once described herself  “As an overweight woman, married to an overweight husband, surrounded by overweight friends.” She also said, “It’s choice–not chance–that determines your destiny.”

Jean Nidetch is the founder of Weight Watchers, one of the most successful weight loss programs in the world. Based on her words and action she apparently chose a different attitude one day and started a business that not only changed her life but changed the lives of millions of people around the world! 

So what are you waiting for? You know what you need to do … when will you take that first step?

Maybe you just need to decide that you want an extraordinary life.

If that’s the case … remember that it all starts with your attitude … and that my friends all starts with you!

Work Life Balance: All Work and No Play …

I’m sure most people have seen the 1980 film by Stanley Kubrick entitled, The Shining. The story, written by Stephen King, is a psychological thriller about a writer who takes his family to an isolated hotel to be the caretaker in the off season. It will also give Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) some much need time to work on his writing.

At one point in the movie Jack’s wife stumbles across his manuscript which is comprised of line after line of this sentence, All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well you can guess what happens next and the insanity begins.

Here’s the point:

Sometimes in our striving to be successful we lose site of those things that bring a sense of balance to our lives. We push ourselves to continuously do more, accomplish more, or be more yet we never take the time to occasionally pull the plug on our “work brains”  so we can recharge the batteries.

A mentor of mine used to say if you don’t stop occasionally to put gas in the car eventually you’ll run out of gas and you’ll be stranded.

10 Signs You Might Need To Stop And Put Gas In The Car:

  1. You’re family is crying when you come home from work … not when you leave for work.
  2. You would rather work late than go home to be with your partner, spouse, or kids.
  3. You’re family is going on vacation … without you!
  4. You wake up at 2:30 AM and decide you need to send an email to clarify some point you made to someone earlier in the day.
  5. You wake up at 2:30 AM and decide you need to send an email to ANY one for ANY reason.
  6. You have so much vacation time built up that you could literally take 3 months off and not skip a paycheck.
  7. You walk in the house one day after work and your spouse asks “Who Are You?” And then you realize your in the wrong house!
  8. You come back from a long business trip with a Teddy Bear for your little boy and you find him upstairs in the bathroom … shaving!
  9. You have this sudden desire to start typing “All work and no play makes Jack, Tony, Bob or any other name a dull boy (girl)!
  10. You come home from work one day and find that your family has moved out … when you track them down they tell you that they moved out … two weeks ago!

Okay so maybe you chuckled a bit and on a more serious note … you will be far more productive over the work year if you pause to fill up your tank and give the engine a rest. Besides their is no job, position, title, or amount of money, that can replace the your family especially your kids. Sad thing is some people never get this until they lose them (physically or emotionally).

Providing for your family is half of the equation … being with them to enjoy it is the other half of the equation … Stay Balanced!