Accomplishing “Just One Thing” Gives You Permission to Relax

By Jeff Beals

I have a lot of favorite words, and among them are “three-day weekend.”

Like most Americans, I’m looking forward to the upcoming Labor Day holiday. After all, who doesn’t enjoy an extended weekend at the ceremonial close of summer? Picnics, vacations, camping/hiking, sporting events or just taking it easy at home – whatever you have planned for the three-day weekend, I hope you enjoy it.

But as much as I like a nice break, I must confess that holidays can sometimes make me a bit restless. Sleeping in, gluttonous indulging and taking-it-easy can eventually be too much. I like to accomplish at least a little something even during my time off. But what can you do when your clients, prospects and co-workers are preoccupied with fun and relaxation?

If you’re a restless professional who wants to check a couple low-stress items off your list this weekend, consider the following:

Update Your Social Media
Whether you are a business person looking for clients or a professional seeking a new opportunity, you need to be visible. The quickest, easiest and cheapest way to do that is to maximize your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. More and more buyers are finding their vendors through LinkedIn. More and more employers use LinkedIn for their recruiting.

If you tinker with your LinkedIn profile, pay particular attention to a few key areas:

Do you have a headshot photo of yourself on your profile? I’m amazed how many users do not. People are drawn to the faces of other people. If we don’t see your face on your profile, we may be less apt to trust the information you provide or we may assume that you don’t take your LinkedIn profile very seriously.

Make sure your summary statement is fully developed and explains what you do in detail using highly expressive words.

As long as they wouldn’t have a problem with it, include the names of some of your best clients.

On LinkedIn’s “Skills & Expertise” section, choose words (you can have up to 50) that describe your abilities. Don’t be modest here. The more key words in your profile, the better it will perform for you.

Go out and deliberately “endorse” your connections for their skills and expertise. In turn, many of those people will feel compelled to endorse you back.

Testimonials give you credibility. Contact your happiest clients or your biggest supporters at work and ask them to write testimonials for you. It also helps to do this for others. Not only does it spread goodwill, but your name will get extra exposure by appearing on their LinkedIn profiles.

Of course, many professionals derive great benefit from other forms of social media as well. Therefore, you might want to take time to create and/or update your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and the list goes on…

Reading Time
A disturbingly large number of professionals completely give up on reading books the day they leave college. Many don’t even read articles that would keep them up-to-date with their profession. While this is problematic, I do understand it. Time-starved professionals can feel guilty taking time to read. Plus, after years of being forced to read in school, some people have simply had enough.

Despite any negative connotations reading may conjure in your mind, you would be well served to peek at a trade publication or read a book that will motivate you and update your knowledge. Holiday downtime is a great time for reading. It’s easier to learn and comprehend when you’re not under any pressure.

Organization
A long weekend is a good time to clean up your life. You may want to go through your paper and electronic piles and prune what you no longer need. Is there something you have been keeping on the backburner too long? If so, you could figure out how to move it up when you return to the office.

If you work in sales or business-development, you might want to go through your list of prospects and find some who have cooled off or drifted away from you. Ask yourself if it makes sense to reconnect with these people. If so, plan to contact them middle of next week.

Lunch or Coffee
Scan your contact list and see if there is an important person you have neglected for awhile. That person could be a client, prospective client, industry leader, community leader or someone who could help you advance in your career. Invite that person to have coffee or lunch with you in the next couple of weeks. You never know what could come from the conversation.

Goal Check
Here’s one final thing to consider for this otherwise relaxing weekend: a goal check. The year is now two-thirds complete. A quick check of your 2013 goals can give you focus for the final third of this fast-moving year. Whether you are on, behind or ahead of schedule, think what you need to do over the next four months to make sure 2013 is a big success for you.

A Closing Disclaimer
I will confess some hesitation about writing this article, because I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.

Many people are under incredible stress these days. There is so much pressure to perform at the office, and frankly, many of my readers already work too hard. I’m not advocating that you ruin your holiday weekend.

I just wanted to write some advice for people like me – people who love time off but feel uneasy if they’re not accomplishing anything. If that describes you, consider some advice from one of my friends. He’s a good guy and a hard-working entrepreneur. He has kids at home who require his time and attention each evening and on weekends. His rule is, “I just have to do one thing.” Each evening/weekend day, he forces himself to do one thing related to his work. It can be something minor and quick, but as soon as that one thing is done, he gives himself permission to have fun with his family.

Maybe that approach might work for you too.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.

Soaring Communication Lessons from One of History’s Biggest Days

By Jeff Beals

A 27-mile-per-hour wind blew persistently from the north as two men, dressed in coats and ties, stood on isolated, sand-swept land near the Atlantic Ocean.

It was December 17, 1903 on the sparsely populated Outer Banks of North Carolina, and though the weather had been turning colder over the weeks leading up to that day, Orville and Wilbur Wright had one more chance to achieve their goal before returning home to Ohio for Christmas.

Orville Wright climbed onto the 600-pound, primitive airplane the brothers had built and positioned himself next to the crude control mechanisms. At 10:35 a.m. the plane left the ground, and flew through the air. It traveled only 120 feet in 12 seconds, but humanity was forever changed by history’s first manned flight.

“They have done it!” exclaimed a local resident who witnessed the first flight. “Damned if they ain’t flew!”

The Wright brothers flew three more times that momentous day, each subsequent flight longer than the previous.

All four flights were witnessed by three coastal lifesaving crew members, a local businessman and a young boy from a nearby village. More importantly, one of the witnesses, John Daniels, shot a photograph of the first flight from a preset camera. The now-famous image shows the world’s first plane floating a few feet above the ground with Wilbur Wright running alongside it.

As it turned out, that photograph and those five witnesses played a key role in proving that this epic achievement actually took place. The public was skeptical about human flight. Many innovators around the world at the time were striving to be the first in flight – a high-pressure race was in full gear. Several people had made false claims, and just nine days before the Wrights’ success, another would-be flyer failed in a high-profile incident.

Over the next two years, the Wrights built better planes and made longer and longer flights near their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. Eventually, they pulled off non-stop flights of up to 38 minutes. Despite that success, when they offered to sell their flyer to the U.S. Army, the military brass refused to meet with them, because they were dubious of the Wright Brothers’ claims. Eventually, the public was convinced – five years later – when the Wrights performed flying shows in the United States and Europe.

Looking at the public’s slow response to history’s first human flight through our modern lens is difficult. While telephones existed, the most reliable long-distance communication was the telegraph. Radio technology was in its infancy and no commercial stations existed. In other words, without a respected New York Times reporter on site witnessing the event, people just weren’t sure (assuming they even heard about it in the first place).

Imagine how things would have been different if broadcast networks and social media had existed back in the Wrights’ day. The Wrights would have had a dedicated website, Facebook page, Twitter account and all sorts of pictures pinned on Pinterest. The entire research-and-development process would have been documented on video so folks could watch it on YouTube. A documentary would have aired The Discovery Channel. The morning after the first successful flight, both brothers would have been booked solid on television news and radio talk shows.

It makes me laugh to think about such a crazy “what-if,” but in all seriousness, today’s achievers have an advantage over their ancestors. Modern work is rarely done in obscurity. Many great thinkers and doers in history didn’t get their just credit until long after their deaths.

Thankfully, advanced communication makes obscurity less likely.

Of course, there’s a cost that comes with instantaneous communication that the Wrights didn’t have to face. Back then, you could work in privacy until you were ready to announce your successes. Nowadays, people find out things quickly and easily even when someone wishes to keep those things secret. Indeed negative consequences have come from our amazing communication system but the benefits outweigh the cons.

As we look back at the Wrights, there are many marketing and communications lessons we can glean from their struggle, triumph and the credit they eventually received for their hard work.

The Wrights knew they needed witnesses and documentation in order to convince a skeptical world, so they made preparations ahead of time. The camera was in place. The witnesses were arranged. The brothers sent a telegraph to their father back in Ohio. While the documentation was crude by today’s standards, it was impressive for the early 1900s.

In 2013, the world is much more skeptical than it was back then. And there are now infinitely more distractions competing for the public’s attention than the Wrights could probably have even imagined. There are so many people “talking” on media and social media outlets today, that it feels like nobody ever “listens.”

Nevertheless, we need to document our best achievements and not fear that we’re bragging or boasting. For if your achievement is legitimate, if it stands on its own merit, people must hear about it.

After all, if nobody knows what you have accomplished, did it really ever happen?

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.