How to Stay Healthy for Leaders & Managers

February 8, 2012

Working more than 40 hours every week? Stressed? Exhausted?  By working more and not paying attention to what your body wants, you are preparing yourself for burnout. Leaders and managers are working to exceed expectations, be more productive and dedicating more time and energy into resolving issues at work .

Eat Healthy

Technology was supposed to get things done faster and make life easier, instead we use available time to multi-task.  Be it commuting to work or flying out for business, crunching numbers for report or firefighting an issue with BlackBerry Messenger while on vacation, preparing for big presentation or making decisions about hiring or firing – we have so many things going on in parallel.  These things take a toll on our mind, body and relationships.

Health is Wealth – you got to maintain balance in life.

I visited a retired executive who was having many health related issues and end up leaving the top position early to take care of the health.  Conversation came to health matters after him talking about all the achievements and sacrifices he had made in his career.  His conclusion was simple, as evident to all of us but neglect always, “Health is Wealth – you got to maintain balance in life”.

I thought of sharing my take on how leaders and managers should pay attention to maintaining good health.  My opinion is if our body is not healthy, our mind is going to work less than optimum.  If our mind is not giving 100% – every thing suffers, from attitude to relationships to our work.

We can help our country, society, organization and family succeed and grow by staying healthy.  Prevention is the best cure.

Here are some reminders, I think we all know basically how to stay healthy:

  1. Sleep well – 7 to 8 hours without interruption prepares your mind to take on new and complex issues.
  2. Eat right and eat light –  Breakfast in morning is must (I had missed many myself in past), lunch and dinner with combination of grains and vegetables. Eat little less than you need to eat. Low sugar, low sodium and low-fat diet.
  3. Drink water –  stay away from any flavoured drink. Tea or coffee once a day is fine.
  4. Walk and take the stairs if possible.
  5. Excercise and stretch out during work day. Enjoy the sun and fresh air.  Take a stroll just after lunch.  Connect with people.
  6. Take deep breaths – for at least 5 minutes.  Metaphorically – your job is to fill your lungs with all the Oxygen you can breathe in so that remote areas of your lungs can get fresh air. Shallow breathing is not doing  good to your lungs.
  7. Think positive and good about anything and everything. Maintain an attitude that all is happening with your pre-consent and you are just watching it unfold.  Do not panic. Enjoy quiet moments, do not jump to your social media or email inbox.
  8. Nutrition helps body. Take your vitamins regularly.
  9. Talk to your good friends and family members – with full attention on conversation and not as a chore. Play with and talk to your kids daily. Try to have one meal with family daily.
  10. Regular doctor visits and physical examinations are essential.
  11. Take vacations – leave work behind, it’s not going anywhere 😉
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How To Make PowerPoint Presentations Powerful.. Part 3

May 27, 2010

How To Prepare?

 Prepare your presentation based on self-evaluation questions in part 1.  You need to spend time according to the ‘worth’ of your presentation.  More planning and preparation are required if stakes are high.

  1. Brain-storm: Like any task, you need to brain-storm about the presentation. Write down the idea / topic of your presentation. Use any mind mapping tool.
  2. Weave a story: A story around topic supported by case study or testimonial or any relevant post on the Internet is very engaging to audience. Your objective is to grab and keep the attention while presenting.
  3. Research: Comprehensive study of the subject is needed and also do research over the Internet.  If it is a tool or application you are presenting about, make sure to use it yourself and learn basics.
  4. Question: Come up with your own questions about each slide that attendee may ask; or what question does your slide raise.  Ask questions from subject matter experts (use Internet forums, Twitter, or LinkedIn).
  5. Facts: Find out how would you support the idea or story you are going to tell the audience – find facts/figures/graphs to support your claims.

Putting Slides Together

  1. Flow: Develop a logical flow of your topic so that it becomes seamless from beginning to end.
  2. Less is More: Question yourself why you want this particular slide; can you do without it; if not then how would it benefit the audience.
  3. Simplicity is the Key: Simple slides with white background and big black fonts work in most cases; even when room is well lit.
  4. Make is Readable: Use reasonably big fonts so that person from back of the room can also see. Use different color fonts to emphasize keywords, facts and figures. Use bulleted list where possible; 5 bullets per page should serve the purpose. Spell out acronyms, sources of information on the slide.  If slide contains too much – create another slide.
  5. Peer Review: Review the draft presentation with available group of people, including your Boss, peers, and other concerned people.

How To Improve Your Presentation

  1. FAQ: Compile a Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ) slide.  Use feedback comments at strategic places in the presentation. Use photos of the person who provided feedback or commented – it wakes audience up.
  2. Engage: Put some multiple choice questions / options around the topic in the slide deck to keep audience brain engaged.
  3. Bullets: Use numbered bullet points where possible or use laser pointer to point out which bullet point is being discussed.
  4. Paint the Picture: Associate your product, service, or topic with something big or unique.
  5. Present: Do not read the slides to audience rather present to them. Slides are to reference and show key points.
  6. Practice: Rehearse the presentation and check (that it works) the tools and technology you will use during presentation. Record and watch your rehearsal practice for improvement.  If someone will be helping you in changing the slides, involve that person in rehearsal – if possible.

Hope you found some good points to implement in your PowerPoint presentations.  What is your experience?  Lets share.

Thank you for your visit and have a great day.


How To Make PowerPoint Presentations Powerful.. Part 2

May 22, 2010

Part II – Cause Of Boring PowerPoint Presentations

(This post is also published on pmhut.com as a complete article)

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. – Dorothy Nevill

  1. Knowledge: One does not know the subject inside-out. All talk is superficial.
  2. Passion: Presenter is not passionate about the topic. If presenter himself is not interested in the presentation, how others can be.
  3. Planning: Not enough planning done about presentation. Person may know a lot about the subject and also very passionate; but fails to plan or weave an interesting story for intended audience.
  4. Expectations: Misalignment between Audience’s understanding level and key message to be delivered. Not conveying what people will get out of the presentation in advance.
  5. Overkill: Giving too much information in one slide or single presentation.
  6. Too Fancy: Stunning images & background, fancy fonts, various special distract audience. Know your audience and know your field.
  7. Preparation: Not enough rehearsal, presentation not flowing smoothly gives indication as person is not prepared.

 Now we know the causes of boring PowerPoint presentation, in next post we will review –

Part III – How To Prepare? Putting Slides Together &  How To Improve Your Presentation


How To Make PowerPoint Presentations Powerful.. Or At Least Not Suck

May 20, 2010

Part I – From PoorPoint to PowerPoint Presentations

Have you attended any boring, too long to stay focused (even awake) presentation and at the end walked out dissatisfied without gaining something or giving out any useful input? Have you ever delivered any lengthy, fact loaded presentations with tons of tables, bullet points, graphs and even slide animation?

PowerPoint is an essential business tool and is used to inform/convince the audience and deliver the key message. It’s to be used as visual aid to help presenter and not to present complete white papers in PowerPoint format.

From sales people to students and from technical gurus to creative mavericks, everyone is using PowerPoint to share concepts, offer solutions, sell products/services and deliver messages. Leveraging the power of PowerPoint is helping people to deliver speeches effectively and easily. By following few steps, you can improve the outcome, make interesting presentations and engage the audience.

As we all know that most precious commodity after the time is the attention of the audience so that real message can be delivered, and desired results can be obtained. Our goal should be to keep audience attentive and receptive of our message by making presentation concise, engaging, on-topic and result focused. Also, preparation around the delivery of PowerPoint is the key success factor; actual problem is with the amount and type of content, style of delivery and type of preparation that goes in – and not with the PowerPoint itself.

Self-Evaluation

First Step is to answer following as first step, use the answers to plan your PowerPoint –

WHY do you need to give PowerPoint presentation?
WHAT do you plan to accomplish from this presentation?
HOW would you make your idea get across and accepted?
WHEN do you think will you be ready for presentation?

Now we know the importance of presenting right ‘stuff’ in ‘right’ format for better results.  In next posts we will review –

Part II – Cause Of Boring PowerPoint Presentations
Part III – How To Prepare? Putting Slides Together &  How To Improve Your Presentation

More reading material –
 http://ltlatnd.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/powerpoint-is-not-the-problem/
http://www.wordsellinc.com/blog/communication-skills/presentation-skills-public-speaking/


15 Ground Rules for Project Team Management

March 9, 2010

People with diverse professional experiences and background have totally unique perspective on any issue.  When a new team is assembled for any project, its vital for the success of that project that all team member are aware of  the ground-rules for the project; similar to any sport.  You may have to read it to team and give a copy for reference.

Here is an example list that I have used for a project to keep team aligned.    Such ground-rules certainly eliminate unnecessary confusion and your business customer and team members like it defined beforehand.  Make sure, you also follow it and implement it.

  1. Project manager is the primary contact for any project related communication.
  2. All team members maintain their contact info on the team contact list with contact preference.
  3. All members attend required meetings and conference calls; if unable to attend, meeting organizer to be notified.  If key contributor is unable to attend, request to reschedule the meeting.
  4. Any planned day off or vacation must be communicated in advance to project manager so that project plan can be updated and impact to work, if any, can be analyzed.
  5. All project team members have access to project plan and  project logs (in a standard document format) and are aware of the assigned tasks and due dates.
  6. All team members are to be consulted about the reasonableness of the plan prior to management approval.
  7. All team members are required to validate their assignments and time allocated prior to the plan is baselined.
  8. All project team members have the responsibility to proactively notify the project manager about tasks, duration or dependencies they believe are missing (or any other needed changes to the plan) and confront issues directly and promptly.
  9. Project team members have the responsibility to notify any potential difficulties in meeting the schedule for any assigned tasks as soon as it is known by the team member.
  10. Each project team member is responsible for ensuring anticipated workload conflicts with other assignments are brought to the attention of the project manager.  Team members should ask for help if feeling “stuck” or falling behind the schedule instead of waiting for miracle.
  11. All team members are responsible to own, follow-up and provide updates on the assigned task (including but not limited to any identified risks, issues, changes, approvals, clarification from customer).  If any delay is observed, escalate to project manager.
  12. All  meeting minutes, key decisions, assumptions and business rules must be documented and all action items must be followed up and assigned to a resource with expected completion date. These items are usually mentioned in casual conversation.
  13. All project team members understand the scope of work.  Any work performed must be in the project plan and is in the project scope.  Anything that is absolutely needed but not part of the project plan, must be brought into project manager’s attention.
  14. All project team members confront issues directly and promptly.
  15. Only project manager submits all final deliverables to business customer for sign-off or approval.

What are other key things that you have found useful and we can add to this list?

Thank you for your visit and have a great day!


Power of Social Media and Customer Service

November 11, 2009

You might have heard that someone got very bad customer service one day and no one would resolve the complaint at this company.  This person gets upset by the treatment received and decides to write a complaint letter to the president of the company.  In few weeks he receives a note and the issue is resolved by president’s interference.  Everyone gets back to business and few people in the town heard of the story and thats it.

Now go to Web 2.0, someone got bad customer service and received no reasonable response  to the complaint.  This consumer feels mis-treated as his complaint is not treated fairly.  This person sings a complaint song, and shares it on YouTube.   Word about this customer service story circulates the internet through the song shared on YouTube, people in millions watch it and it hurts the organization’s bottom line (over $100 millions) and the brand.  And then this individual gets an apology from the company and complain finally gets  resolved.

This is the power of social media if used correctly. It works both ways.

Here is the complete story  about singer Dave Carroll incident and whose guitar was broken by United Airlines (Link to Huffington Post story) . Watch the  song. 

Here are some key points (and some Customer Service/Help Desk experts can add more) –

  1. Consumer expects good service all the time, although doesn’t give reward or recognize it publically, but indirectly rewards by doing business again and again.
  2. Consumer is generally prepared to handle good and bad customer service; in case of bad service, do not expect more business.
  3. Consumer is wowed by exceptional service only and you can find 5-star reviews online and strong brand following is built/maintained. Facebook Fan page and twitter following of brand can tell something.
  4. Consumer is offended by horrible customer service.  You can find 1-star reviews online and some dedicated websites to complain about product, brand or service can be found.  Some may get creative like David Carroll and make a dent on your brand.
  5. If not sure how to handle the complaint or issue, do not just say No.  Let your boss help you.
  6. If you face customers, genuine attitude determines consumer behaviour to a bigger extent.

I have noticed that consumer tolerance to bad service is inversely proportional to size of brand or organization.  Bigger the brand or name of the organization, higher the expectation of consumer in terms of service.

 Here is another blogger with the same story- http://adgablog.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/how-to-ruin-a-reputation-in-4-days-on-youtube/

What are your thoughts, please share.  Have a great day.


Got 10 minute to speak with executive?

September 20, 2009

When you got 10 minutes or less to talk to your executive manager, you are well aware of the fact that you do not have enough time to give background of the issue or request and he/she isn’t interested in nitty-gritty detail.

Instead of giving your jargon loaded intellectual talk, paint the picture with words. Try to make it little striking with some recent example. Tell how it’s going to impact him, positively or negatively (again painting a picture with words), and what you need from him.

If you are telling about a problem, tell what solutions you propose.  Watch your gesture and prepare to answer the question with some facts; do not let it come to the point where you say ‘I will get back to you on this.”

Hope this helps and have a nice day ahead.


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