Your One Thing & Other Productivity Hacks

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The Importance of Finding That One Thing

This post is somewhat a follow-up to my time management post although with some additional potential varying tactics. They stemmed from my recent reading of the bookThe ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. If you read my post on Time Management, you know I am a proponent of having three “pillars” or three things I’m going to center things like my business focus around. Mr. Keller says that instead of varying your focus like that, your real approach should be focusing on just one thing. He touches on the popular term “multitasking” which, as many of you probably know, is a fallacy. They have proven, time and time again, that no one can do two things at the same time. You may be able to rapidly cycle between two things very quickly but you cannot do two things simultaneously. They have shown this with texting and driving which is obviously a huge issue in today’s world. It is akin to drinking and driving in terms of its effects on the driver’s behavior. I confess to being guilty of this but only do it on road trips when I am on the highway with not enough cars around to justify utilizing cruise control. You would be amazed at the things I have attempted to do while deploying the cruise control option (especially in my younger years) but those things are probably not appropriate for this type of post and frankly, I’m sure I have some authorities still searching for me because of those violations! But I digress…

Writing Down Your Goals:

To me, the first part of the “one thing” is to write down your goals. A former mentor once told me that “something magical happens when you write down your goals.” Studies have been done that have shown a 39.5% increase in goal achievement if your goals are written down. I have definitely found this to be true and some eerie things have happened as a result of this process (in a good way) but the point I would like to stress is that you need to be specific. One example how my lack of specificity hurt me was when I wrote down my goals in 2012 for my year-end sales results. I had two separate quota “buckets” at the time and I wanted to achieve over 120% of each of them as it would have resulted in a large bonus. I wrote down the number 120% and posted it next to my master bedroom bathroom door where I could not help but focus on it as I walked by multiple times a day. My mistake was not to specify two 120%’s on the paper as while I did achieve over 120% of the combined goal, I did not reach it for each bucket and thereby did not earn the large bonus. BRUTAL! I would encourage you to set goals for each area of your life (family, spiritual, work, physical) and post them somewhere visible (the best place for me is on the inside cover of my wallet where I typically look at least once a day as a reminder) and I believe this causes you to subconsciously develop the steps needed to achieve that end destination. But you may say (as I did) “that is not really one thing; that is multiple things” and while that is true, Gary Keller is speaking more of specific focus areas at specific times of day and to viciously guard those time slots. “Protect your time block” is how he terms it and I have always tried to practice this discipline. It is very easy to intend to guard your time but another it is another thing entirely to actually do things to facilitate. A note on your door, going someplace where no one can bother you and getting up extremely early before anyone else is awake are some of the ways you can help insure you are “protecting your dial time” (as a friend of mine in insurance likes to say). If you do not set goals and/or protect this time, you end up emulating a dialogue between the Chesire Cat and Alice in “Alice in Wonderland .”

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here” asked Alice.

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to” said the cat.

“I don’t much care where” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go” said the cat.

I have recently surrendered my life to Christ and while this is not intended to be a religious post, I want to provide examples of things I have done to put “the one thing” into practice. Mr. Keller repeats often in his book that the guideline you should utilize when figuring out your one thing is as follows: “What’s the ONE thing I can do in my life that would mean the most to me and the world such by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”. I have tried to deploy this recently and it has helped create great clarity. A recent example occurred during a recent walk my wife and I were on in the park. We always end up in intense discussions about our children and the paths they wish they were on or what we want to put in place from a structure perspective to help them to reach their full potential. This “tactics” end up varying greatly with each discussion and are always multifaceted. It turns into a long list of initiatives needed that don’t end up being fulfilled. During this last walk, I had one of those incandescent moments where I basically came to the conclusion that instead of trying to take all these steps to provide structure for them, we needed to focus on our religious activities and showing them where we were committed to spending our time and efforts. These are doing things like: reading a bible plan every night with my son, my wife and I praying together every night including request to the Lord to show us the path that will allow them to maximize their potential, taking my son to a Christian group one night a week where I help to mentor boys who don’t have father’s in their lives in a group setting, my daughter going to Sunday night children’s small group, us going to church every Saturday night as a family, etc. Instead of trying to do what our parents did (force us onto a path that THEY believed was best for us), we recognize that they are at the point (12 and 15 respectively) that they need to find their own way in the world. Our focus should be setting an example, insuring they spend time in environments where they can be around good people and be immersed in positive words of faith. Now, instead of stressing out with trying to deploy all these different “programs”, we can just focus on our “one thing” and let the chips fall in the way God intended.

Hopefully, I have not given too much away about the book but highly encourage you taking the time to read it. Gary Keller was a high-powered executive who, like many of us, created laundry lists of things to accomplish and ended up burning himself out. With this change to dramatically narrowing his focus, his life underwent a paradigm shift and he found himself to be far more productive than he ever thought possible. It is highly readable text and I promise you will pull some valuable items out of it. In closing, I would like to reference a scene (that Keller begins with) from the immortal Jack Palance in the move City Slickers. Enjoy and please let me know if you get as much out of this book as I did!


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How to Steps for Building Strong Business Relationships

Creating relationships is a vital part of business, and something that has allowed me to excel in all of the positions I have held. It’s good that I have this skill set as I was hit in the head many times in my 11 years playing football so don’t have too much else to offer (kidding of course)! I’m a big believer in creating what I call “trusted business advisor” relationships. There are many ways to do this but they all involve genuine care and sensitivity to others. This is typically more challenging for men than women as women tend to be more sensitized to other’s feelings and men sometimes have to go out of their comfort zones to accomplish.

Below are some of the specific activities I have employed (or have been employed for me) to help create these types of enhanced relationships:

  • Put my sales process through the prism of “what are the true challenges this customer is facing in their business and how can I help?” as opposed to “how to I gain the information I need in order to complete my proposal template, get it delivered to the customer and make a sale?”
  • Listening closely to my clients about their personal lives and their passions (sort of like how I try to do for my wife around Christmas time to be able to buy thoughtful gifts). For instance, one of my customers was talking about wanting to take his son’s skeet shooting. So, for his birthday, I got him a gift certificate for a local skeet shooting “ranch” that he could enjoy with his boys. As you can imagine, this was GREATLY appreciated.
  • After I had a very successful quarter, out of the blue, I received a box of Omaha steaks from my boss. He didn’t tell me in advance he was going to do that but I knew he was thinking about me and he made an accurate assessment that the big man enjoys grilling out some red meat!
  • I have found Linked In to be an invaluable tool for maintaining relationships with people you rarely get a chance to see in person through messaging (as well as texting). It is always a great practice to record birthdays and reach out to someone on that date or during holidays. This way, if you have a need for something, you don’t seem like you are just using them when you reach out for help (a sure fire way to negatively impact relationships).
  • If you say to someone something like “oh, you would love that book; I’ll let you borrow my copy” or “I have a great recipe for that and I will provide for you”, make sure you fulfill those commitments. I hear those types of things offered all the time but rarely see follow up. I like to send myself an e-mail to remind me (I do this for a lot of things to remember because, as my wife likes to tell me I have the memory of a “dead elephant”- get it? Because a live elephant never forgets!). You will definitely stand out if you do this because 90% of the time those offerings not fulfilled.
  • Make a commitment to call your closer relationships at least every couple months if you have only been texting, e-mailing, or social media’ing (not a word I know) one another. We get so caught up in communicating through these electronic mediums that it can become very impersonal at times. Some people I know will even send a handwritten letter (yes they still exist) to stand out from the herd. I will often call friends and tell them “I was just thinking about you” or “you’ve been in that new job for a couple months and just wanted to see how it was going”. To me, that’s like putting deposit’s in their “emotional bank account” so if you ever need a favor, you have enough credit to make a withdrawal.

These type of relationships have evolved into some very interesting things like job offers, use of vacation cabins for free and invites to significant sporting events. One of my customers taught at a local college and had me come in and teach a couple sessions for him each school quarter. When I was managing channel partners, I was asked several times to help put structure, on an “at risk” employee and determine if they were worth salvaging or not. I would walk into their businesses and new employees just assumed I worked there because of the open access and relationships I had within the company. Imagine how much easier this makes it when your competitor walks in the door or when it comes time to conduct some negotiations? I can tell you from experience that becoming a trusted business advisor can help “grease the skids” and make everything you are trying to accomplish much easier.
So, I would encourage you to be cognizant of these types of approaches during interactions going forward. When you boil it all down, it comes down to the golden rule and what activities could someone employ to make a significant impact for you? It involves actively looking for ways to pleasantly surprise others and fulfilling any commitments that are made. Do what you say and say what you’ll do is always a good mantra to live by. If a big oaf like myself can be successful utilizing these principles, I guarantee anyone can!



Your Client Objects Now What? Chin Up You Got This!

You Got This!

I feel like people have given the word “objection” a bad rap. You see it so much on the legal shows on TV when they object to what’s being said or when people talk about sales. I’ve always looked at objections positively; to me, it means that the other party is “playing ball”. When I was a younger man, and a woman might object to the way I look, I would think to myself “OK. Is that all I have to deal with? Maybe if I’m funny, I can overcome my objectionable looks!”. Also as a younger man, when I was in sales, I would relish getting objections from a customer as I knew the best way to counteract those objections. I had a Rolodex of responses that I would immediately deploy with fervor. “Oh, you don’t like the pricing? Compared to what? We are different than that competitor because….”.

Then I read a book that completely changed my view on objections. The book is called “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling” By Frank Bettger. It was published in 1949 and the first thing I noticed was that most of the concepts discussed were the exact same concepts taught in Sales Training today. There are no “new” concepts in sales, they are just marketed differently (what a rip!). The second thing I noticed was how he talked about objections. (It would be really cool if I could actually find my copy of this book as I have purchased it 10 separate times; it’s probably in my house somewhere buried under pounds of animal fur but I digress…). Frank was an insurance salesman who would track all of his customer interactions. Out of 1000 customer “interviews”, 60% of the time the objections he received WERE NOT THE REAL OBJECTIONS!!! They were a ruse! There are two types of objections; the real one and the one that sounds good. So, when you hit on that girl at the bar and she turns you down by saying that she has a boyfriend, what she really means is that you smell or you have a large piece of cabbage in your teeth or you are highly overweight and horizontal stripes are not flattering, etc… Imagine how that concept changes the life of a sales person. If you roll out “pre-canned” responses, you have a higher chance than not of wasting your breath because you are addressing a false objection!

So the question becomes, how do we address this issue in life or in business?

Mr. Bettger’s went to a seminar held by Dale Carnegie and got the answer. He tells the story of a large client that was assigned to him but no longer purchased anything from his company. He would let Frank come and deliver his pitch but always declined to do business with him by saying they were OK for now or purchased services from someone else. After hearing Mr. Carnegie’s message, he asked for another meeting with this dormant client and was provided with the typical excuses. Then, he very simply asked (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Sir, is there anything else that might be causing you not to do business with us? If there is and I can address it, perhaps we might be able to work together again. If there is something else and I cannot address it, then I’ll feel better to have at least gotten the opportunity and can stop hassling you.” The client looked at him in silence for a very long time. Then he said “your company used to provide me with a discount and then, for no reason, ceased to credit my account without any notice. Once that occurred, I vowed never to utilize your organization again.” Frank checked on this issue, found out there was a mistake made, credited the customer’s account retroactively and earned back the business.

You can ask the question that way or even just ask another probing question but I guess the main point is that you should assume that the initial objection may be a ruse. Too many times we get caught up in just responding instead of genuinely trying to understand someone. Steven Covey says that 90% of the time people disagree it’s not because they truly disagree but one or the other side doesn’t fully understand the other’s position. 90%!!! Try to be aware of this and just have a genuine conversation as it flows naturally instead of trying to exhibit staunch control.

Try this technique in your personal and business life and see if it doesn’t bear fruit (or higher pick-up ratio) for you!

Key Negotiating Skills to Use in Today’s Environment

Good negotiating skills are key to have in today’s environment. Whether we are negotiating with our kids, our bosses or customers, continuing to hone your negotiating tactics are an important endeavor. Many times, negotiating turns into a game of compromise where the outcome is so diluted that no one is satisfied. That is an unskilled negotiation. Not to get political here but Obamacare seems to be a prime example of this. To get the initiative pushed through, a ton of “pork” had to be included and too many compromises caused many unintended results and the thrust of the initiative to be ineffectual.

There is also what’s called a “win-win” negotiation. But many times that evolves into I win and you think you win but only realize later that you actually lost. I believe many go into negotiations with this strategy to try and “game” the negotiation and use tricks to mask the initial agreement as one that is positive for the other party. What happens when that other party realizes they have been bamboozled (rarely get to break out that .25 cent word outside of deploying my impression of Stephen A. Smith)? It causes hurt feelings, is a detriment to long-term relationships and may cause them to want to retaliate down the road.
When I negotiate, I like to think about long term results and how both sides can truly achieve what they want. This process will take longer but will result in both sides skipping away from the negotiating table (figuratively of course; seeing a 300-pound man skipping somewhere can be scary and the authorities might be called) and create a healthy long term relationship. To accomplish this, before I go into a negotiation what I do is break out a flip chart and draw three columns; the first it titled with my name, the second is the customer’s name and the third is titled “Options”. In the first column, I list what I want to achieve as a result of the negotiation and in the second, what I suspect the customer might want to achieve as a result.

Below Is An Example Of This Process:


I want to realize my margin


Wants boss to be happy with the deal I made.


I want referrals from this customer.


Wants good value from purchase.


I want my customer to be happy long term.


Solution to address business challenges.


The solution should be appropriate, long term.


Wants to pay under budget.


I want 30-day payment terms.


Want implemented in short timeline.


I want the deal to close today.


Ability to back out if not working.

Now, what we need to determine is, how can each side get EVERYTHING they have on the list? Not 50% of each item, not half of my items and half of theirs but each of us get a check mark next to every item listed. This is obviously easier said than done and that’s why it’s good to work on it ahead of time so you can come to the table with some good ideas. Now, here are some options to address both party’s needs:


  • I want referrals but not just referrals; referrals that turn into business. What if I implement a rebate that takes effect after six months that will allow the customer to pay under budget if they provide enough       customer referrals that can translate into X amount of revenue? Or, what if they allow me to take up to three prospective customers into their location to see how effectively my solution is working for them?
  • Normally, my company would provide a 15-day money back guarantee if the customer was not satisfied. What if I extend that to 30 days if the customer is willing to close today?
  • The customer would normally pay with 60-day terms but what if I could escalate the install or implementation in an extremely short timeline with minimal operational disruption if I could get them to pay            within 30 days?
  • What if we did a lease with a bank to pay the cost of the solution? This would allow me to realize my margin and provide them with more flexible payment terms.

These are just some examples of some shared options we could deploy that would allow both sides to get everything they wanted as a result of the negotiation. Now, what would happen if I did this on a flip chart in concert with the customer? We did it collaboratively with the customer listing some “out of the box” ways to allow them to look good to their organization (and hopefully strengthen their job security which is becoming more vital in today’s world). Even better, what if I put myself out there and listed everything I wanted first to be completely transparent about my wants and desires? Do you think the customer would appreciate this type of candor? Jack Welch said that candor is a greatly undervalued asset in our society and I believe a customer would find it very refreshing.
Now, would this work with every type of customer? Obviously not (I have a difficult time trying this with my kids as my son seems to be destined for a career as a lawyer and my daughter has me wrapped around her little finger) but I tend to believe that most customers are reasonable people and this exercise would allow you to be better off financially, as a result, create better relationships and help differentiate yourself from your competitors. What else could you ask for? So try out a version of this technique during your next negotiation and would love to hear some stories about how they turned out!

An Experts Tips On How To Give A Presentation With Confidence

Presenting and public speaking is a phobia for a lot of people. I believe the biggest fear is the fear of getting off track and “freezing” up. My answer to this is to prepare, prepare, prepare and when you think you’ve prepared enough, prepare some more. When I used to deliver sales training, I would practice in front of the mirror, practice in front of my wife and even practice on a video camera. I would prepare to the point that even when I got interrupted, I would be able to pick back up my train of thought seamlessly.

You have probably heard the adage; “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you just told them”. You want to make your message simple with minimal points, so the potency of what you are trying to get across is not diminished. A very basic format (that you probably learned in elementary school) is to have the opening paragraph (tell them what you’re going to tell them ), make three points in three different paragraphs (tell three different points) and then a closing paragraph that summarizes everything (tell them what you just told them). The most important thing is to make transitions between each of the middle three paragraphs. Things like “my first point are” and “secondarily” and “to summarize”, etc. Make sure you are connecting each of the three points, or your presentation will come off disjointed.

Do you ever eat sushi? In this country, I see many Americans eat sushi in ways that were not necessarily intended. Most of the time I see people put soy sauce into the small serving cup and add the wasabi and some ginger. Then they use chopsticks to pick up the sushi rolls, dip them in the soy sauce/wasabi/ginger concoction and (usually very clumsily) attempt to get the roll (that they probably just squished) into their mouths. First off, sushi was designed to be eaten with your hands so chopsticks are not supposed to be needed. Secondarily, the ginger is not supposed to be utilized on the roll or in the soy sauce; it is supposed to be used to cleanse your palate before you try a different sushi roll. The reason I bring this up is that I think the mistake many presenters make is that they don’t deploy something at the beginning of the speech to “cleanse the palate” or break your audience out of their doldrums. People are immersed in their day doing things like thinking about an e-mail, needing to return a VM or maybe worried about an upcoming meeting with their boss. You want to shake them out of that and get them to focus in on your message. That’s why many begin their talks with a joke (which also gets your audience on your side), but I used to like to tell a story that was a little more sobering. In Steven Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he tells a story of being on a train when a man comes aboard, and his kids are raising cain. Covey goes to scold the man as the kids are causing a real issue amongst the passengers when he realizes the guy had just lost his wife. Because I am passionate about Covey, this story and its meaning (perceptions can be dangerous), I have told it many times and feel I can tell it very well with a lot of drama. After I get done telling it (with lots of dramatic pauses thrown in for effect) I usually have everyone in the room eyes on me and dead (no pun intended) silence. This allows me to proceed to my message ensuring that I have everyone’s undivided attention. A little morbid I know, but hey, it works!


Some Other Quick-Hit Points For Success:

-Vary your pace, put in pauses after dramatic points and change your decibel level often to keep your audience off balance.
-Look around the room and look at different individuals for 2-3 seconds apiece. If you are nervous making eye contact, look at the tip of their noses.
-A lot of formal instruction on presenting says not to walk around the room. I like to do that to draw far-reaching parts of the audience into the message (maybe too much) and also wake up people who may be sleeping in the back!
-Ask questions periodically to ensure audience engagement. Also, ask questions to specific audience members; the advantage of this is it causes even greater engagement as the natural conclusion becomes “Uh-oh, I might be next!”. If I am in a particularly devious mood, sometimes I will call on someone who I know is not paying attention. That way, when they flub the answer and have to admit they were not paying attention, it causes embarrassment and gets everyone else to lock in. Mean I know but hey, you’ve got to find your fun where you can!
-Use anecdotes and examples to “prove” or underscore the points you are making in each of your three middle paragraphs. You have to add credibility to your points by saying things like “this is just like another situation…” or “as stated in last month’s Harvard Business Review”, etc.
-Free up your hands! Allow your hands to help you talk and make your points. This sounds normal, but I see people all the time have their hands in their pockets or with a death grip on a podium. One time, early in my career, I was giving a presentation with one of my hands in my pocket yet I was still making points with my hand in my pocket! It looked very strange and obviously gave the impression (correctly) that I was nervous.
-Use multimedia; people have different learning styles, and you don’t know the learning styles the individuals in your audience might have. The three broad learning styles are auditory, visual and experiential. Since you don’t know what their learning styles are, ensure each of your points has an element of each to assure the best chance of your message resonating.
-Before you have to give a presentation, go somewhere where you can be alone and do the following: start at your feet and flex them for a couple of seconds, then go to your calves to flex them for a couple of seconds, then go to your thighs and so on for your entire body. This will help you relax. Remember: do this privately! You will look like a psycho if people can see you while you are attempting to relax and then you will get more nervous!

In short, have fun! In long, practice, practice and practice some more.

Hope all of these tips help and would love to hear some stories about how you were able to utilize some of these techniques to help you present more effectively!


Easy Work From Home Opportunities & Resource Guide

Great news the number of companies that are looking for at home workers is on the rise and that number is expected, grow even higher in the coming year. If you’re looking here are some are a few places to check out and start earning money from today!

Are you a Graphics & Design, Photographer, Social Media Guru etc. then Freelancing is a perfect place to start earning money from home:

Check out these sites:




Flex Jobs


99 designs

People Per Hour

Simply Hired

Project 4 Hire


If you want to start earning money right today then try Survey companies(some of these sites have referral programs too):


Harris Poll Online

American Consumer Opinion


Squishy Cash



Direct Sales is another way this is a little longer process but you can make some real money:(might seems old school but each of these companies made over a billion dollars in 2015)

Market America



Young Living

Nu Skin



If you like to take photos here are few sites that will pay money for your pics:





Getty Images


If you’re a talker there are phone related jobs for you:

Enterprise Customer Service

Virtual Vocations

Home Shopping Network


If you’re artsy or crafty open an online shop:



Handmade By Amazon

GLC Craft Mall


There are so many wonderful resources online for at-home work, but I do advise you to be cautious and make sure you do some research on the company before starting a position.

All the Best & Good Luck on your Work From Home Journey.

Andrea Warren is a wife, mother of two and has been working from home for the past eight years. After selling her first home business, she decided she wanted to help others find their passion and start their own work at home companies. Are you ready to take the leap and start working from home? Email me at and let’s work together to get your business started!