19/25: Organize Online

19/25: Organize Online

On Saturday I talked about adopting early and often on new social networks and tools. I strongly recommend doing this, but today I recommend do so in an organized fashion.

Rather than simply signing up for a network and then going to Twitter and saying, “Hey, I’m on Google+ look at me” take the time to organize your network in a thoughtful, efficient manner. I’ll give you some examples:

Google+ - Take the time to effectively organize your various circles. The beauty of Google+ is the clean, organized dashboard. Take advantage and create circles so that you can share specific content with specific groups.

Twitter - Who fully utilizes Twitter lists? I need to do a much better job. Simply have a column in Tweetdeck for followers, mentions, and direct messages is not good enough. I have a favorites list but even that is too large. How can you follow what 300 people say? Break your Twitter followers into lists based on geography, topic, or the conference you met them at.

Facebook - Every organized your Facebook friends into lists? I’ve seen some really greats uses of this feature and it makes sense of Facebook. You don’t care about that random person from high school biology class, but maybe you shouldn’t miss that photo of your newborn nephew.

These are just a few specific examples of how I’m going to better organize online. The lesson learned though is take the extra time if you’re going to use a specific network or tool to organize it so that makes sense. 

18/25: Visual or Verbal?

18/25: Visual or Verbal?

Which one are you?

I think everyone learns and remembers in their own way. Some of us like stickies, some whiteboards, and some a pen and the palm of their hand is just fine. I’ve decided at the core everyone is either a visual or a verbal learner. Sure, you can probably move back and forth at times, but what is the best way you learn. 

As you seen below, I’m definitely a visual learner. I want to lay things out, move them around, and visually see what needs to be done. 

There is no right answer to this question, but the lesson is to learn which you are and stick to it. Develop your own, customized way of learning and remembering and you will quickly reap the benefits. 

If you’re willing to share your method, I’d love to hear it below in the comments section.

17/25: Adopt Early and Often

17/25: Adopt Early and Often

Arguably the favorite part of my job is experimenting, learning, and trying to figure out what is the next big thing in the social technology industry. What is the next Facebook? What is the hippest app? Where are people going online?

Although this results in many dead accounts scattered across the web on various new social networks, it also gives me the opportunity to learn what people are building and what problems people are solving. Being an early adopter to a new tool or app allows you to not only get to know the user community but also become an influencer on that network.

Take Google Plus for instance. Although I still have some doubts about G+ because I don’t think Google has social in their company DNA (see Buzz and Wave), but I think they have learned from their mistakes. I jumped in early on Google+, but I haven’t done my homework and truly utilized the tool. Want to build a community, jump on Google Plus and start sharing. Circle me up!

So my advice to myself (and you if you’re reading) adopt early and often. You’ll learn, you’ll recognize trends, and you’ll build influence.

I can’t wait to read this post four months from now and reread what I wrote about Google Plus.

16/25: The Ask

16/25: The Ask

Today I had a great meeting with a potential client that I never would have considered an option for my company. I figured they were too big, they worked only with other big firms, or we weren’t the right fit. But I remembered, you’ll never know unless you ask.

So I made the ask for a meeting. I got the meeting and then I had an awesome meeting. Now how difficult was that?

Potential clients, partners, and customers are closer than ever before with the rise of social networks and our insane ability to get in touch with each other. Don’t ever say you can’t get a client, a customer, or a mentor without asking. 

Spend this weekend thinking of all the people you should talk to and on Monday make the ask.

15/25: Thank You Notes

15/25: Thank You Notes

Want the silver bullet to business? Handwritten thank you notes. Just like your mom taught you.

I’m serious. We’ve done pretty well at it for our first two years at 9 Clouds, but I’m going to make it company policy. You should make it a life policy. 

I think this comic proves my point. That is all.

14/25: Consistency

14/25: Consistency

I think one of the hardest things in business is consistency. If you’re passionate about what you do, I believe the blood, sweat, and tears actually comes quite naturally. But to be focused and consistently deliver results is tough.

Look no further than this blog series. The premise is challenging myself to 25 productivity/business tasks throughout the final 25 days of being 25 years old. Now I’ve been doing quite well and been consistent for me, but yesterday I missed a day. I was traveling and knew I wouldn’t have much time online. But why didn’t I write my post a day early? Why didn’t I make it a priority to set aside 20-30 minutes to write?

Consistency is tough, but the more you can commit to it, the easier it becomes. For me I like to create challenges or even add game elements and rewards to being consistent. The key is discovering what works for you and sticking to it.

Think of the “online stars” who have rocked business with millions of followers, best-selling books, and TED talks. Most of these rockstars aren’t reinventing the wheel or new business models, but they have honed their craft and consistently (day in and day out) produce results at a high level. They are kings of consistency, and that doesn’t go unnoticed. 

What type of systems or processes can you implement to maintain consistency? 

13/25: Hire an Accountant

13/25: Hire an Accountant

One of the most important things to success in business is knowing your strengths, but more importantly knowing your weaknesses. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or employee number 783 in a big corporation, it is vital to know yourself and what you’re capable of.

The trick here is being able to admit you’re not that good at a particular thing and your time is more valuable elsewhere. I’ve learned this lesson through the importance of hiring an accountant (shoutout to you Julie).

Now I still do many of the books and general number crunching for 9 Clouds because I think it is important for a co-founder to know all aspects of his/her business. But the ability to have a person to call up when I make the inevitable mistake or to do the real dirty work with end of the year taxes is vital. 

Swallow your pride a bit, recognize your strengths, and spend your valuable time on what you do best. 

12/25: Unsubscribe

12/25: Unsubscribe

I woke up this Monday morning with 26 unread emails in my inbox. Not the worst I’ve ever had, but certainly not a light morning. Guess how many of those emails actually required a read and some sort of action?

Four.

If you’re like me you wake up every morning to a barrage of worthless emails, daily deals, and newsletters that at some point you willingly signed up for (or possibly in some cases you didn’t sign up for). Don’t fret if you signed up for them, that’s ok. I encourage people to subscribe to their favorite blogs and find new sources of content to read. However, if you no longer get value from the content or find yourself deleting the email every day, just do yourself a favor and unsubscribe.

I figured I spend about 30 seconds every day deleting emails like a robot. It is just a mindless, daily task. But today I’m unsubscribing. That includes you Groupon (and all other daily deals), you came to Sioux Falls in March of 2010 and I’ve bought one thing. Not worth my time. 

Thirty seconds a day to delete emails for 365 days = 182 minutes and 30 seconds.

I’ll take my three hours back and the peace of mind every morning when I wake up.

11/25: Second Monitor

11/25: Second Monitor

Looking for a quick uptake in productivity? It can be achieved with the simple addition of a second monitor.

We’ve all seen the computer geek with two big monitors plus his laptop all connected together on the desk. Although we want to make fun of that person, perhaps there is something of value there. In fact, Microsoft research says a second monitor can yield between 9 - 50% increased productivity. That’s huge!

Buy a simple computer screen monitor that can run as low as $89 and watch the productivity skyrocket. Do it. 

10/25: Turn Off Email

10/25: Turn Off Email

I’ve decided email was one of the greatest innovations ever for getting things done, while also being one of the worst innovations for getting things done. Let me explain.

Thanks to email we are connected to anyone around the world right? We can get in touch with everyone and make amazing things happen through communication and collaboration. However, our email inboxes have also become the dumping ground for everyone we work with and everyone who wants to bug us. It is easier than ever to ask for a favor, assign an extra tasks, request a proofread, and encourage a read via email.

If you become a slave to your email using it as your to-do list, you simple will never get anything done. You’ll be in an endless battle of responding and reacting instead of proactively getting work done that is important to you. 

I am guilty of the above scenario, so I’m going to start having planned times where I turn off my email and get real work done. I suggest you do the same. Later Gmail!