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CHROME-"Industrial Luxe"


February 27, 2007

By Timot McGonacle

Partnering with Total Event Resources out of Chicago, we created a celebration for the grand opening of a 250,000 square foot truck center outside of Nashville.   We were given a pristine industrial space upon which to create.

We began the evening with a  shuttle property tour for the guests that ended at the entrance to the truck repair center.  Beyond a custom detailed gunmetal tractor, the opening was framed in richly draped voile accented with color changing LEDs.

Guests entered what should have been a 28 bay repair center.  Instead, they discovered an “industrial Luxe” cocktail and dining area.

The Manifestation of a Theme

Early in our process, we were struck by the scale and scope of the facility coupled with visual impact of the trucks and many of the parts and accessories.

Following an extensive site tour, we researched accessory catalogues and inventories.  We visited the old dealership and hand picked tractors in the corporate logo colors to have detailed and delivered to the new location.

Our clients were pleasantly surprised by our focus, and it reinforced their own pride in their work.  They became emotionally invested in the theme and gave us total access to their inventory.

Chrome hood ornaments decorated the cocktail tables. Branded with the manufacturer’s logo, an ice sculpture of a big rig and trailer anchored the seafood buffet.  The caterer filled the truck bed with chilled shrimp.  Even appetizer trays were decorated with chrome accessories.

Wheel and bolt covers became the dinner table centerpieces and were surrounded with a ring of white orchids and votives.   Rentals and tabletops were all in silver.  The walls and ceiling were texture-mapped in projected cogs and gears.  Pin spots on the tables highlighted the reflective quality of the silver.  The room literally glistened

We chose over a dozen big rig trucks in colors that matched the corporate logo. They framed the cocktail and dinner space. We projected dealership logo onto the entrance floor and custom printed it onto white chocolate dessert picks.  The  150 VIP guests enjoyed cocktails, a ribbon cutting ceremony, a four-course meal, live jazz and a motivational speaker.

The evening would inspire the client and the guests to rediscover the intrinsic beauty in their everyday products by reinterpreting them through the requirements of an event.

(For Photo Examples: www.timotart.com/portfolio/rush)

A Marketing Metaphor


February 26, 2007

By Timot McGonagle

During my early career I worked as an account executive for an international cosmetics firm.  I carry the knowledge gained with me to this day.

The cosmetic industry was one of the first to realize that they were selling image and experience as much as product. Customers were buying into the glamour and lifestyle the company created.

New lines were dramatically unveiled at the annual sales meeting. We learned that every element of the packaging had a subtle meaning that supported the larger brand image The excitement was infectious as we carried the message back to our home territories, our accounts and ultimately our individual customers.

A Marketing Metaphor

Today, when I approach the challenge of creating a marketing communication experience for a corporation, I immediately turn to the product and the experience surrounding that product.  The metaphor I use is “Back into the Box.”

Imagine taking the box from one of the client’s products?  The exterior is covered with elements both literal and subliminal to communicate the brand message. You slit the side of the box, turn it inside out and close it again. All the information once on the outside is contained within.

Now cut a door into this box.  You are left with the prototype for your event and a space filled with a brand experience.

Where’s the box?

“Back into the Box” goes beyond a literal interpretation. If your client sells a service rather than a physical product the analogy still holds. You must discover tangible elements around the service.

I always request copies of all related media, advertising and press releases.  This request includes photos or renderings of store installations and/or POP displays.  Anything qualifies that will help me to understand the client’s goals.  I want to immerse myself into the product or service in order to come away with the subtle details that will make for a great event.

The Twofold Advantage

Companies spend millions on product development and marketing.  As a producer, with both marketing and design degrees, I value that investment. I feel a responsibility to honor the hard work of the product development and marketing departments.

This dedication provides a twofold advantage.  First, I get a head start on the physical design of the event.  Color, texture, pattern, media and even catering choices become easier.  It is a pleasant challenge to come up with innovative ways to incorporate the company message.

Secondly, by closely aligning your production to the overall company message you become a literal and experiential extension of the brand. In this day of multiple television channels and countless media options, more traditional advertising must be augmented with experience. 

Marketing communication and event environments provide an unusual level of audience control with the advantage of immediate feedback.  Your target audience leaves with a more complete knowledge that bonds information with experience.

Teambuilding: An Essential Part of Meetings


February 23, 2007

By Betty LeDoux-Morris, CMP

Teambuilding – a term sometimes loosely used for what may be considered “down” time, while others consider it in the true sense of the words - - building a team.     I look at it in all ways - - we are fortunate to have a five-acre Executive Challenge Course on property, complete with Climbing Wall, two Leaps of Faith (Pamper Pole), Zip lines, etc.;     a creative “outward bound” type set up for those groups wishing to step outside of their comfort zone and travel across a wire 30 ft in the air, while team mates hold the safety cords below.      

I mentioned in my first article how teambuilding and group activities are fast becoming an essential part of meetings and that it is something that can generally be taken from an educational budget provided that the right content is included.     Dr. Hall, our in-house Challenge Course facilitator, often comments to groups how this is not only stepping out of the box or out of one’s own comfort zone, but is also a great learning tool as any time there is an emotion attached to an experience (in this case, a learning experience),  – it sticks.    Much like everyone can remember where they were when the planes hit the World Trade Center or on a positive side, details surrounding events at the birth of a child are vividly recalled while one can’t remember a home telephone number.      The Executive Challenge Course helps us to help groups provide the scenario for establishing that “foot print” for the attendees.   We often encourage groups to have a portion of their meeting out in the woods at our Challenge Course and proceed right from their meeting to either the high or low element exercises.   If this is not an option, we recommend that the group do their teambuilding first and then proceed to the meeting (if only one time slot is allowed for the teambuilding).  This accomplishes the set up for the information that is to be given to the attendee to stick, and also allows for the members of the group to get to know one another on a very different level.

We have had many groups who incorporate three days of our teambuilding program into their meeting – which would include half days of activities at the Challenge Course, Canoeing on the Hillsborough River, and a more light-hearted event at our Sports Village. Dr. Hall includes a wrap-up or debriefing wherein he recaps to the group what was learned over the last few days.  Most of the time, we make sure to capture these events on camera so that the group will have a DVD of the event to take home with them, or at the very least a picture that can be used for a mousepad or monitor screen saver.   Seeing these pictures instantly brings a recall to the events of the trip as well as the material covered during the meeting sessions.

In the event the group dynamic is such that the Executive Challenge Course is not a good fit, similar activities can be arranged at our Sports Village.  The low elements of the Challenge Course can be reconstructed at the Sports Village with portable equipment and the group can participate in those activities as well as combining the ever-popular Build-A-Boat event.    I think many properties offer the Build-a-Boat activity, but we offer the event with several “twist” options.   For example, if working with a group that is concentrating on building Leadership;    we would interrupt construction of the building process about half way through and ask all the team leaders to come forward and get more equipment.   At that time, that group of Leaders would be told that they are forming yet another team and have to start the construction process from the beginning.    You can imagine the temporary chaos that is created by this change. . . and another lesson in Leadership and Change is learned.

Light-hearted events poolside or at the Sports Village are also very worthwhile - - either just for fun or with a “message” incorporated into the event.     The bottom line in all of teambuilding is – as I mentioned in my first message – is to listen t o the client to understand what they are seeking to gain out of the teambuilding event and be creative to make their message come through all while providing a fun experience for the guests.

"Spa" is the Word


February 22, 2007

By Betty LeDoux-Morris, CMP

A growing favorite in the group activity world is the Spa.   While this certainly is not considered a “Group” activity, it is a great alternative to those non-golfers and non-tennis players and offers a great way to recover from the possible stress from sitting in meeting rooms all day.   

It is truly difficult to ignore the benefits of a spa service. However, one of the challenges I have faced with meeting planners selecting spa services for their group is making sure that we can accommodate everyone. CEO’s and planners truly have their groups interest at heart in allowing their attendees some “down” time, but can’t afford to allow too much time as they must certainly cover the material for which the meeting is held. So, the biggest challenge is to schedule all the appointments within what becomes quite often, too little time.   

We recently had a group inhouse that offered their attendees spa services and the response was overwhelming – however, the time was not. We were asked to accommodate in excess of 120 appointments in a four-hour time frame – the majority of which were one hour massages.  Not a problem if you have a spa that has 30 treatment rooms……however, most properties do not have that much space allotted for their spa. But we were encouraged by the challenge and secured several of our two bedroom suites to serve as a ‘remote’ spa. The bedrooms were stripped of the furniture (stored in the adjoining third bedroom), the living room was set up with fresh fruit, wine and candles, lights were dimmed and we created a spa ambiance that was relaxing and did not compromise the experience they sought to have.

This transition is certainly not an easy one for most properties, but with proper planning, it can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time (a couple of days) and the guests leaving the property relaxed and appreciative of the effort and service generally secures a return visit to the Resort.      

Working Creatively with Groups


February 19, 2007

By Betty LeDoux-Morris, CMP

Group Recreation/Team Building and Spa seem to be on the rise again for corporate groups and associations. Unfortunately post 911, groups had to watch their extra dollars and were essentially eliminating the “extras” from their meetings. However, with the growing awareness of the true value that Group Recreation/Team Building and Spa have to offer, more and more groups are now arranging for their attendees to experience some recuperative time during meetings…which is great news for me!!!   I have often said and would argue with anyone at Saddlebrook, that I have the best job at the Resort. As Director of Group Activities and Spa Sales, I have the good fortune of helping Planners schedule some fun time for their group…Director of Fun!!!

One of the challenges most groups have is selecting an activity that fits their group. This can be quite difficult when the dynamics of the group are so varied. However, with some continued dialogue with the Planner and thinking out of the box, a customized event can be planned that will ensure success of the event and kudos for the planner. For example, we have customized our “regular” events to meet the needs of the client by including two or three-day programs that include a leadership aspect on our Executive Challenge Course (Teambuilding), a more light-hearted event at our Sports Village followed by regenerative time in our spa.  Because this is considered a true “teambuilding” event with very clear objectives, obtaining funding for such activities from the educational budgets works very well.  It is a legitimate expense for the company, the attendees have a good time – while learning some valuable lessons and tools that they take with them to the workplace – and they leave the meeting feeling that they were able to truly experience the property all while accomplishing the goals of the company. In times past, it was not uncommon for groups to come to Saddlebrook and not allow their attendees to experience all the beautiful amenities that we have to offer. Consequently, they would leave in a more negative state of mind than when they arrived. Fortunately, companies are getting away from this line of thinking and seeing the value in such exercises.

In my opinion, the essential element that helps to make me successful in my role of planning with the groups is the unique ability to work creatively - - basically because we have such an option-rich property. I’m sure that many planners run into a situation where the client wants to be on the beach. While we can not miraculously create a beach for the group, we can certainly create a beach atmosphere right in our sports village area with the lake, sand volleyball courts. Add some tiki torches, hula hoops, beach balls along with the sand, and you have created the atmosphere they were looking for. Of course, the key in my area is to add the fun events – the tug-of-war in the sand, the super duper sling shot event with the water balloons, limbo contests, etc., and a good time is had by all.      

More to come…….Wednesday Spa / Friday Teambuilding

First and Close Encounters In and Out of Season


February 16, 2007

By Jean Jaworek

I haven’t been getting out much lately.  I’m still enjoying meals with friends and family nights and weekends and the occasional Hollywood blockbuster too but I haven’t been attending a lot of work related meetings.  I haven’t been getting a lot of face time with upper management either.

I’m not being punished—remanded to corporate obscurity for some real or perceived infraction of The Rules—or if so I’m blithely unaware reduced status.  Mostly, I’m not seen grazing break tables or attempting to secure a theater-style seat within PowerPoint squinting distance, because other duties keep me away. 

My work has always been seasonal, punctuated by busy periods where I’m alone or sequestered with one or two others likewise engaged.  At such times I face a PC monitor requiring full work days and undivided attention.  Optional meetings—the kinds that are largely informational are pretty much out of the question.   

So my world rocked a bit recently when another’s scheduled bumped my own.  A corporate executive – a new guy at least to our organization--unexpectedly scheduled a meeting with me.  He’d learned I had some background in an area he was interested in exploring and wanted recognizance from my own lips.  Moi?   Yes.   I felt a little like Dorothy and her cohorts summoned to a face off with Oz, The Great and Powerful.               

Why?  Three reasons: 

1. I wanted to make a favorable impression.  We can’t redo first encounters.  I know it.  You know it, and it is as true now as when Momma done told us so.   
2. I want the boss to be happy. I know any encounter that can influence expectation, even modestly, is one laden with the mojo of opportunity.  The deft hand can shape perceived outcome -- insurance that the sense of corporate well-being will be preserved sometimes regardless of outcome.  To my mind, this is what managing upward is all about albeit on a rather primitive level.   
3. I want to be perceived as on and with it even when I don’t feel I am truly either.  Truthfully, in my meeting off season, I think I lose my macro edge. Swamped by minutia, the big picture fades to a backdrop of vague scenery that fails to inspire because I don’t have time to look at it.  What would I say to the guy?

What to do?

The usual.  Deep breaths to encourage calm.   Glance out any window.  This reveals a sky as unthreatened by imminent collapse as ever.  Follow this by a quick look at the western horizon. There the sun will be slumping in something like no time—a cogent reminder of the need to get on it with it.
.
Next:  Preparation. Organization of materials.  Production of a typed formal outline including all the absolutely key points highlighted.  Why not?  Attire:  Think of something reasonable to wear but don’t dwell.  Success hinges at your keeping at the task at hand. .Of course most of us know all this but it bears repetition because most of us tend to forget question what should be obvious best practices when spooked or caught off guard. Leave time to buff the shoes. It you look down at your shiny toes just before entering a meeting particularly an important one, you might catch the glow. 
      
Most importantly, do not procrastinate or lose confidence.  If you don’t succumb to one or the other, you know you are likely to pull through.  I did and when I left the new guy he smiled, and shook my hand like he meant it.   

Turn Your Ringer Off...Put Your PDA Away. People Are Meeting Here!


February 14, 2007

By Jean Jaworek

I’m wary of nostalgia.  I owe this to my maternal grandmother.  She reached for a wet blanket whenever one of octogenarian buds began waxing eloquent about the past.  With a  sharp memory until the end, she could vividly recall the devilish details of bygone days.  Thus, the misty-eyed recollections of yesteryear were likely to garner a deceptively agreeable nod and the rejoinder, “Yes, yes, the good old days with children dying of croup and diphtheria.  You can have ‘em.”

I’m reluctant to pine for pre-cell phone, pre-PDA days mindful that Nana might be watching from a better place stoked to put the whammy on me.  This brings to mind the specter of restless nights lost dream-walking and technology-free, along the kind of isolated dimly lit roads that feature so prominently in sci-fi thrillers.  Sans phone, I’ll feel menaced, afraid and entirely alone.  It goes almost without saying that I’ll awaken in a cold sweat. 

So I guess I see it both ways. I’m not part of the Luddite crowd raging against all electronic gizmos.  I like some of them a lot and really find it hard to imagine doing my job without them.  On the other hand, I’m not ‘down with’ some of the unnecessary foolishness and really just bad manners I’ve come to view as their evil spawn.   

Driving and talking on a cell phone held clamped to either ear is unsafe and dumb.  Insurance statistics prove it.  We know it, and those of us who do still do it are needlessly risking our own lives and those of others.   That’s why you can get a ticket for it in most places. 

In a movie or theater, we’re asked to turn off all electronic devices around the time that the house lights go down.  For the most part, the theatre-going population complies. We agree that the distraction of a ringing phone spoils the collective immersion experience that makes going to a theater fun.

Why not at meetings too?   Isn’t the point of a face-to-face event that your mug will be giving its undivided attention to that of others?  What cheek to be trolling through your emails while someone is trying to communicate with you?  It’s just plain rude.  Why can’t we collectively acknowledge it as such and take action accordingly?  More to the point, why can’t I get myself to speak up about this when it counts, before a meeting begins?

Recently, our smallish departmental meeting was attended by a vendor who had traveled three thousand miles to be there. One of our guys-- a multiple face-to-face gizmo offender -- showed up with his usual appliances. He repeatedly and conspicuously, checked his emails while we met and left the ringer on his phone.  By the time the meeting ended, I wanted to swat him with his PDA.  Still, I couldn’t bring myself to say a thing.  I like to think, I don’t care much what the other kids think about me, yet, I admit I’m as hide-bound to the court of corporate opinion as the next employee.  To be thought a quaint stand-in for Miss Manners, opposed to the more extreme forms of multi-tasking, makes me quail. Who wants to be thought backward?

But it also gets me down to think to recognize that I’m waiting for someone else to take action and deal with something that’s bugging me this much.  Nana would be disappointed. 

So I know what I’ve got to do.   I’ve got to find a phone booth, even if it’s only in my mind and change from mild-mannered blogging reporter to a character with the strength of ten and steel enough to enter a meeting room and ask that all electronic devices be turned off.   I need to make Nana proud. 

               

    

Pre-Meeting Jitters: Outta My Way


February 12, 2007

By Jean Jaworek

Meetings make me nervous.  There, I’ve said it, well, I was actually mouthing the words while typing, but I’m taking ownership of my anxiety, putting it out there…sharing.

It doesn’t matter whether I’m planning it, attending one planned by someone else or a talking head perched atop a lectern, the prospect of the experience regardless of how worthwhile I might believe it to be, always makes me sweat.  Why?  I don’t know.  Something from early childhood perhaps, performance anxiety dating back to a Brownie Scouts Fly-Up assembly or earlier, maybe a pre-school sandbox mixer freighted with the double whammy of critical social skill acquisition and tightly scheduled, parentally scrutinized recreation.  Why delve?

Carpe diem.  Projecting my own experience, I’m thinking quite a few others –even some with PLANNER embossed on their business cards—share my Angst at least episodically and could benefit from a few pre-conference, jitter-reduction strategies.  For the sake of truth in self-advertising: There is likely nothing novel here. For the most part these measures treat symptoms rather than underlying causes.  I offer no cure.  Still I’ve found these effective in controlling the flight fight impulse when I meet and greet and you might too.      

Here’s a list of what works for me:         

-Never go to a meeting hungry.  This includes and is especially true of breakfast meetings, particularly those where you will liaise with catering.   If you wait to eat when everyone else is eating, you might not get to it; moreover, by the time everyone else is ready to tuck in you will have likely noticed an inadequate quantity of (fill in the blank) creamers, syrup, artificial sweetener or that your guest speaker has forgotten his bifocals and won’t be able to read his notes from the podium.  You don’t want to deal with this stuff when your blood sugar starts to totter or hit the skids.  Your meeting triage skills will be sharpest if you have at least some brain fuel available. 
    
-Bring your own pen, a spare and something to write on.  If this is a no-brainer how is it that I have never attended a meeting where I or someone around me has failed to ask for one or the other?  This is particularly important at set-up when you are likely to open the boxes with stationery supplies last. Carefully labeled boxes detailing the contents of each don’t do you much good when the hotel or conference center has erected a box obelisk, possibly in homage to your meeting, with your stationery supplies into its foundation.
Note: Pens are good for more than writing.  A well-aimed pen with enough blunt force can pierce strapping tape.  With a pen you can open your own boxes, without having to hunt down the single guy on the maintenance staff with a working box cutter.

-Say hello to people in your orbit of activity and smile.  When you feel edgy or nervous, there’s a tendency to give yourself over to your own worry and preoccupation.  When you start shutting out others, you begin the inexorable drain-circling to the black hole of self-absorption.  Space and time distort and you are very likely to blow some imagined slight to magilla proportions.  For example, you might start thinking that the raising or lowering of room lights is a life and death issue. Your rational, balanced self knows better, but your pressured, egocentric self might not have it down pat.  It is a good idea to remind yourself that there are others with you, around you who might even be able to help you with whatever. Conveying a sense of how glad your are to see them, serves an important reminder.  You are not alone.   

-Keep alcohol and caffeine consumption to a minimum before and during a meeting. 
If you are reading this, you are likely a grown-up and there is no need to belabor this  issue. You know why.

-Deep breathing.  When you get the tightness of chest that is the precursor of tears, an angry outburst or panic, a few lung-swelling, modulated breaths can save the day.  As you are about to say a few words, nod for the first Powerpoint projection, or any time you step into the breach, you probably won’t have time to stretch out on a yoga mat and slowly convince your  shoulders and feet to melt to the floor. But you can still inhale and slowly letting out a half dozen breaths almost anywhere and you will feel calmer—better really -- for having done so.      

You want to do a good job.  A few or all of these steps might help you get it done.  They might help you remember to enjoy it too.   

Eight ways to energize the ROI for vendors who sponsor Speakers


February 08, 2007

By Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

With budget constraints, many planners look to fund educational session through their vendors.  Get a clue—an announcement from the stage and a banner over the podium is not enough.  There’s not enough connection between the vendor and the speaker. There’s much more leverage you can get from a top flight professional speaker.

Consider these additions:

(1) Ask that the speaker become versed in the vendor’s product or service. If possible and appropriate, the speaker might be able to use the vendor company as an example during the presentation. For example, in addressing the administrators of law firms, I spoke about the importance of strategic alliances so the right work is done by the right people. The sponsor, Pitney Bowes, handled printing, mail room services, etc. in a manner that was be both efficient and cost-effective for the firm.  Pitney Bowes served as a great example of a strategic alliance!

(2) Use the speaker for both a keynote and a break-out.  Many speakers offer a daily fee which means you can use them for more then one session in a day.  This strategy ensures that every attendee, no matter what their schedule, will have the opportunity to see the speaker in action.

(3) Ask the speaker to write an article that can be reprinted by the vendor with the vendor logo and given away free at the booth. The speaker can be in the booth, autographing the article. Suggest that the vendor print the article in the company newsletter or magazine for those who could not attend.

(4) Ask the speaker to sign books in the vendor’s booth and greet people. If the vendor wants to draw traffic, give away the speaker’s book at the vendor booth for the first 100 people. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic will instantly show up. A variation on this theme is to split the give-away into morning and afternoon, thus generating traffic at different times of the day

(5) If possible, work with the speaker to use either her core message or the speech title as part of the background in the booth. This not only reinforces a learning point, but identifies the vendor to all attendees and not just the ones who attended the keynote session.

(6) Suggest the vendor print up a postcard with the company information AND the speaker’s key learning points.  Mail it after the trade show to everyone who attended the conference. In fact, a really classy gesture is to write a cover letter about the company and WHY you sponsored the speaker. Mail it in a hand-addressed envelope and enclose a wallet-size card with the speaker’s main points.

(7) Consider hiring the speaker to follow-up with attendees by sending out a regular article or newsletter by e-mail sponsored by your organization.  This reinforces the speaker’s message for long term results and provides additional exposure for your organization.

(8) If the fit is a good one, consider sponsoring the same speaker within the organization. So often, rank-and-file employees do not get to attend conferences. The prevailing view that “sales and marketing have all the fun” can be countered if you bring what your learned back to the corporation. And continuing education is one of the top three retention factors.

To sponsor a speaker for a one-hour session leaves value and opportunity on the table.  When you match the association’s needs with your business objectives and strategically avail yourself of whatever services a professional speaker can offer, everyone becomes a winner!

Seven tips for getting control of your time


February 07, 2007

By Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

In a world where “too much to do and too little time” is a common manta, there’s a felt sense that everyone and everything has more control over our day than we do.  While we might be at the beck and call of others, there are still areas where the culprit is none other than ourselves.

Using the word “control” as an acronym, here are ways to gain some relief from self-induced pressure.

Can the clutter.   Do you walk into your office and instantly feel a sense that you could be buried in the mess?  Papers are piled on the desk, on the floor, and in tiered boxes.   Note that if this were your natural style of organization, you’d feel pressure by having items out of sight!  But if you’re like a great majority of people, clutter only adds to the time spent in finding what you need.  Do you use everything that you have on display?  Can you find items when you need them?   If you’ve answered “no”, proceed to the next recommendation.

Out with excess paper.  Examine what surrounds you.  What can you throw out, give out, leave out?  If you are months behind in journals and other publications, scan the table of contents and keep only those items that you KNOW you’ll need.  Throw the rest away.

No, not, never, not now.  Say it. Practice it.  We frequently nod our heads “yes” like a wind-up toy because of guilt, fear, or a sense that obligation.  Ask yourself why do you say “yes?” Perhaps even a “not now” would suffice.  I am convinced that if we do not put limits on our time, it will vanish with our unknowing permission.

Talk up. To curtail long conversations or meeting, learn these sentences. “I would like to be able to talk with you but I have another engagement.  Can you please tell me your request (situation, concern, etc.) in 25 words or less?”   First, you won’t be lying with your opening statement.  You will always have another engagement—even if it’s with the report in your computer.  Second, you have indicated a willingness to respond. You have merely put a concise cast to the conversation.  It’s amazing how “25 words or less” can increase the speed and fluency of conversation.

Read only what matters. And a bunch of it doesn’t matter. Tell people to take you off global e-mails. Learn the art of skimming. Train your assistant to skim and then report back to you only what he thinks is most important.

Operate early.  This can mean everything from getting up early to doing things early.  If you pack for a trip, don’t wait until the last minute.  Prepare, in advance, your suitcase, your briefcase.  The only things that need to be added are last minute items.  Create artificial deadlines that are in advance of the true deadline.  You’ll always feel more in control.

Lighten up. Perfect isn’t perfect.  Look for and relish the unexpected.  There is serendipity when we allow ourselves to surrender to events and times over which we have no control.  The bad weather that keeps my plane grounded allows me to complete a piece of writing I could not have finished.  The shop that closes just as soon as I approach the door lets me walk down the street and find other stores that I had never noticed before.

Getting in control is ultimately about getting clear on our work habits, our priorities, and our values.

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