Do Something New This Month

Is there something you've been meaning to learn, but haven't? Are you letting Resistance stop you from beginning? Sometimes you just need a little push. Getting started can be the hard part... but it is so easy. Just start. Do it today. Use the calendar to give you that little push. You can do any thing for 30 days. Read a book. Write a book. Learn Yoga. Practice Meditation. Write a blog. Just do something. new.

In this TEDTalk, Matt Cutts will inspire you to try something new in just three and a half minutes. I dare you to watch it.

Nine Ways To Make Networking Work For You

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Are you tired of networking events that are a complete waste of time? Are you sick of always meeting the same people and the "wrong" people at events? Do you feel like you don't know what to do, who to talk to, or what to say when at a professional event? Well, here are a few steps you might take to help.

By the way, this is a Haiku presentation that I created as part of a talk I give on Professional Networking. It is also my first swing at a Haiku deck and I'd appreciate any feedback you can offer on how to make it more engaging, more helpful, or more relevant to you.  If you think I've missed something, please let me know. Send me email. I'm Phil at Thinkhammer or press the email me button on my About Me Profile.

Nine Ways To Make Networking Work For You


    Networking events can be scary and useless. It is too easy to come away from an event feeling like you've wasted your time and didn't meet any of the "right" people. If you follow a few rules, you can keep that from happening and turn any room into your advantage.

    For many events it is possible to know who is going to be in the room before you even get there. Get the list either from the event site or one of the organizers. If they don't share the list, then ask the organizers if they can give you some idea of who to expect so you can make a list of who you'd especially like to meet. At Tech After Five events ( there is even an app that you can use to target contacts that would be especially useful for you.

    Having an activity goal is particularly useful at networking events. It will keep you moving forward and maybe even keep you from using all of your time talking to people you already know well. Sample goals might be "Meet Five New People" or "Collect two business cards from people I can have a follow up meeting with."

    It is too easy to spend all of our networking time with people we already know. Decide that you are going to add diversity to your network as well as rekindling conversations with existing contacts. New people bring fresh ideas and networks to you. Chances are, you will be able to help each other in ways you hadn't thought of.

    When you are cool, or work for a cool company, or have a particularly awesome product or service, it is too easy to be talking when you should be listening. Ask questions. Learn about the people you meet, both old and new. When you ask the right questions, you learn from them. The more you know, the more likely you will be able to come up with ways to connect.

    Once you've started asking questions, be sure to ask how you can help others first. At many events the participants can be exhausted from hearing one pitch after another. Be different by offering help first. Perhaps they are looking for a particular company or person and you can be the one to help them make that connection. Start by offering help and then they will be wondering how they can help you.

    Don't start with your pitch, but have it ready. When someone asks how they can help you, be sure you have a concise answer. Let them know specifically who, or what, or what situation you are looking to uncover and then ask them who you should be talking to. If they know, they will help. If you can't articulate what or who you need they probably won't know where to start.

    Hand out business cards to anyone who asks for one, but more importantly ask for a business card from anyone who you think you'd like to follow up with. Carry a notepad and pen for those people who didn't bring a card. You want to be able to take the next step in terms of follow up. You need contact information to make that happen.

    Try to follow up while the conversation is still fresh. Best practices means you send a note that evening or the following morning. I know it's hard, but if you are going to go to the trouble of making contacts, then set aside time to do proper follow up. If you follow these steps you are going to absolutely distinguish yourself as a professional networker and undoubtedly be awesome at whatever else you are trying to do as well.

How to have dinner with George Takei for $6, and why you should

photo credit: Gage Skidmore via photopin cc

Like most Americans, I follow George Takei, the man I once knew as Star Trek's Leutenant Sulu, on social media. I started following because of the many fond hours I spent with him at the helm of the USS Enterprise when I was a kid. I've kept following him because he has a wicked sense of humor and posts incredibly funny items on his Facebook, Google+, and twitter feeds. His posts are gems. He is a funny and charming guy. His posts feature clever word play on Star Trek, Star Wars, unfortunately misspelled  signs and goofy animals photos over improbable captions. They make me laugh and sometimes think -- with just the right amount of each.

I've yet to meet George Takei, but I have just finished his latest book, Oh Myyy!, How was it? I feel like I've just had a lovely dinner with George Takei and I enjoyed every bit of it. Oh Myyy! is a breezy 246 pages where the author talks about the title, his life, and his adventures with Twitter and Facebook. Just in case you haven't been watching, George Takei has 6 over million followers on Facebook and another million on Twitter. When he talks, Facebook listens and when he talks about Facebook, he should certainly be worth listening to. He comes across as a caring guy who would be a lot of fun to engage in conversation. He cracks jokes, tells you what's important to him, and talks about how he balances his goals against the expectations of the tribe that has built around him. My guess is that reading this book might actually be better than actually having dinner with George. The book contains more conversation than you could fit into any one evening, you can go back over the most interesting parts more easily and he has already anticipated the best questions you might ask of him and he has answered them personally and succinctly. Like I said, it was lovely.

ps: The Kindle edition of Oh Myyy! is about $6.

Live Radio - How do I keep my online self safe? Is this Mac worth fixing? We take your calls

 In this show we talk to callers about:

  • Why we like rugged phones
  • When do you fix your Mac? (or buy a new one.)
  • Should I buy a Roku or Apple TV or something else?
  • How to keep your online self safe.
  • A cool virtual globe.


One Easy Way To Keep Contact Information Current

Knowing and keeping up with people is important to me. I like knowing awesome people and it bothers me that I lose track of them from time to time. Even though I scan business cards, use LinkedIn, and try to keep my address book up to date, people move, change jobs, or otherwise slip my net and I lose them. I typically find out when I got to call them or shoot them an email and see that my address book has info from two jobs ago. Grumble.

Keeping contact information up to date can be a chore. (so it doesn't get done.)

A few months back I found a sleek tool for keeping my address book up to date -- automagically. It is sleek, fast and invisible -- and I just don't get to use the word "automagic" enough.

The app I use scans my GMail emails, looks for contact information that people typically put in the signature block of their emails, and then compares it to the data that's in my address book.  If changes are needed, it sends me a daily roundup email of all the suggested changes and I can approve or ignore them.

It's awesome.  It's Evercontact.

evercontact logo

So far, Evercontact has updated more than 470 contacts in my address book! I might have lost these people. I have certainly saved many hours that I might have spent updating them manually. If you spend time going to networking events, meeting people at conferences, or even making contact with them on LinkedIn, I can't imagine why you would not want to give the Evercontact free trial a spin. you might not know who you've been missing.



More love. More laughs. 
More cool cats. More accolades. 
More flashes of brilliance. 
More awesome moments with friends. 
More celebrations with those who love you. 
More sleep. More wakefulness. 
More passion. More purpose. 
More peace. More light. More joy. 

More you being the best you ever. 

May these be your blessings in the New Year.

Five Techniques for Creating The Time You Need In Your Day

photo credit: conradoplg via photopin cc

Are you too busy to do what’s good for you? I just finished watching Nigel Marsh’s brilliant TEDxSydney talk on how to make work-life balance work. It reminded me of a comment I hear a lot from people as they express their regrets for not showing up for a networking event.  They’ll say they can’t make the event because they are so busy. There are a couple of problems with that statement, but let’s see if I can help with just one of them. Maybe you can have more room for all of the things that matter (including building professional relationships) if you could just create a bit more time. 

Here are some strategies you might try...

1) Make a list of things to stop doing.

If you made a list of everything that takes up your time in a day, you can probably stop doing ten percent of them and nobody will notice.  In a week you’ll wonder why you ever thought they were important.  At the end of the day today make a list of everything you did.  Look at the list and put a circle next to every item likely to come up again tomorrow.  Then scratch through every one you think you could stop doing.  My guess is you get an hour a day back doing this.

2) Ask those closest to you what is the most important thing you can be doing for them.

You may not be prioritizing your efforts in a way that will have the highest impact on your life and the lives of those around you. How do you determine what’s important to them?  Ask! They may not always be right, but it is the perfect place to start a conversation. You will immediately find things that are not important at all and you can kill those projects entirely. Poof! More time for what matter most to you. If you’ve got someone who is particularly needy in your life, then make them prioritize for you.  Tell them you’ve got limited time, and ask them where they would have you to start.  It’s empowering for you and them. They know you care. You let them know what to actually expect.

3) Handle things once.

If you have three different email programs all looking at the same email inboxes, you are actually reading emails three times! Tell me I’m the only one...and I won’t believe you. Read and either respond or decide you never will immediately.  The new Google GMail inbox actually makes this much easier.  You can now scan entire categories of email, make decisions about them in bulk and make them go away. You can select them all, or all but a couple, and deal with those singles as needed.  I sign up for the events I plan to attend, and archive or delete the rest. The same thing goes for actual mail.  Is it a bill? Put it in the bill paying stack and know you will get to it at the right time.  Don’t shuffle through your paper mail every day looking for a bill.  This wastes countless hours you could be using for bigger projects (like hanging out with friends or playing with the cat.)

4) Schedule your interruptions (and regain focus.)

As a rule, I don’t let emails pop up on my screen and interrupt my focus time. To make this work for me, I have disabled email popups, and I grab the tab of my browser and pull it away from the others so I have a single window open and the object of my attention when trying to do focused work.  If I’m writing, it can be hard to get back into a thought. I keep the interruptions to a minimum.

5) Work while you wait.

Casual gaming nearly ruined me. While I never got into Farmville, there have been others that sapped my every free second.  While I didn’t (usually) stop work to play a game, I would find myself waiting for a car, or sitting on an airplane or waiting in an office and firing up some game because I thought it needed me to do some sort of maintenance.  I know it’s likely just me, but is a game, Facebook, Twitter, or texting stealing a valuable part of your day?

6) Singletask.

Be here now. Your brain is processing lots of other things, but there is no reason in the world to ask it to try to process multiple conversational threads at one time. We’d like to think that this is something we are really good at, but the truth of the matter is that will take our brain several minutes to recover from an interruption. Even if it takes only 30 seconds to answer the question , it will take us a few more minutes to recover and return to work.  That’s quite a loss and one that few factor into their day. Allow yourself an uninterrupted time to work on what’s important. The focus is a force multiplier.

There you go.  Hopefully one or two of these strategies will help you create some additional time to get the things done that are important to you and the stakeholders in your life.  If you have got some ideas or have some feedback, use the comments section or drop me a line.