Monday, October 17, 2016

Leading Companies Thriving in Open Plan Environments

Open Office Plan EnironmentSome of my favorite clients operate productively in open plan environments. When they were making the adjustments I was able to share strategies so they can Fold Time™, achieve twice as much in half the time.


Open plan spaces can a big adjustment for team members who may struggle if they have always worked in an office.

Offices used to symbolize status – now everyone is considered equal in an open environment workspace design.


Companies leading the open workspace movement include Viacom, Facebook, Cisco, Microsoft, eBay and Google.

Check out ideas on three strategies to be more productive in an open plan here.


If you aren’t sure if Open Plan is for you – check out the pros and cons in this article:


Facebook has embraced open plan and created ‘frictionless working’


SUCCESS Partners the magazine SUCCESS and its parent company SUCCESS Partners Sources have created this environment with a clear understanding of people’s workstyle:


Cisco Systems calls them connected workplaces and believe it maximizes flexibility, choice and collaboration. :


CBRE and Microsoft share the positives and negatives of this unique set up and also outlines how some offices are allocating space specifically for millennials:


Google has made it work using a variety of workspaces to encourage creativity and collaboration and also allow people to focus:


eBay has focused on design to increase productivity and combined that with a mobility program to allow people to work remotely:


Need more ideas on how to be more productive in an open plan – check out these ideas.

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Pay ATTENTION to Your Words – They Can Change Your World

Words have power text on school boardThe words we choose to speak – either to the world or to ourselves have the absolute power create impact, connections, positive or negative change and action.  When we lose FOCUS and our attention gets drawn away from what we know will move us in the direction we want to go – our words or language often follows suit. To help you stay the course, let’s create a productive language palette.

Just as an artist uses a paint palette to choose from a spectrum of colors, the words we choose become our medium to create color, texture, and depth in our communication with the people around us.  Those words can be help or hinder. Move us forward or hold us back. To keep you “in the light” – let’s look at ways a productive language palette can improve your world.


Create impact: In the famous speech Acres of Diamonds, delivered over 5,000 times by Russell Herman Conwell, a tremendous orator and the founder and president of Temple University in Philadelphia, shares that the resources to achieve all things are all around us.  One of my favorite lines from the speech is ‘greatness consists not in the holding of some future office, but really consists in doing great deeds with little means and the accomplishment of vast purposes from the private ranks of life. To be great at all, one must be great here, now. If you wish to be great at all, you must begin where you are, now.’  He compels you with his words to begin your greatness right here, and right now – and an incredible place to start is with your words.


Choose positive language – words that lift, empower, ignite passion, present purpose and lighten the way for those around you.  Look people in the eye when you speak to them and listen to their responses. Put your phone down and be fully present in those moments and watch how much more productive and compelling they can be.  Please pay attention and be selective in your own internal dialogues as well.  Too many times people who share extraordinarily kind words with others are their own worst critic. They lift others but not themselves.  Let your positivity extend to your own self-talk as well.  It’s a difference maker, I promise you.


Create connections: Words cost us nothing and mean everything.  Before you speak, think about the words and impact they will make on the people you are with. I love the Rumi quote that shares, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:

At the first gate, ask yourself, Is it true?  At the second gate ask, Is it necessary? At the third gate ask, Is it kind?”  It’s not always easy to slow our pace of speaking and listening down enough to pay attention to those all too important gates, but life, career, and relationships most certainly shift when we do. Take the opportunity to slow down, connect and show care and compassion instead of trying to quickly share your response, or be so caught up in your next sentence you’ve missed what was being said. Fully listen, connect and engage – and your relationships will expand and flourish because of that.


Create action: Choose action-orie

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Monday, October 10, 2016

10 Tips to Handling Difficult Customers

What YOU Could Be Paying ATTENTION To Starting Now

difficult customers yelling

It’s often a chaotic world we live in – attention spans are low and expectations are high. That makes for a perfect storm for difficult customers. The good news is that there are ways to keep your cool, turn customer experiences around, and even come out looking like a hero.  Let’s take a look at eight of those ways!



1. Don’t take it personally. Most of the time when a customer complains it’s because they are unhappy with the product, or company – not you as an individual. It could be NOTHING at all to even do with the experience. Maybe they stubbed their toe? Spilled their coffee?  Woke up late.  Stop before REACTING to another person’s emotions and think – is it me? If not, let that emotion GO.


2. Give yourself credit.  Remember all those mad skills you possess? The kind way you handle customer requests? The serious mojo you have when it comes to hitting your goals? Keep all of those things in mind when someone turns surly and never let anyone else make you feel less than you are.


3. Write it down. Want to make an impression? Write down the complaint. That shows the customer that you are listening and genuinely interested in resolving their issue.  If you’re on the phone, let them know that you are writing things down in detail.  People want to be heard and documenting a problem is a good way to illustrate your listening skills.


4. Get a supervisor in on the action. Got a REALLY tough customer on your hands and things feel like they are escalating?  Invite a supervisor to join you and the customer will notice you are treating them as important by seeking additional help.


5. Debrief with a trusted person when you’re done. When the customer leaves, it may be a good time to talk over the encounter with someone you trust in order to release the frustration, let go of any negativity and learn what can be done in the future should it happen again.


6. Master stress management.  There are so many amazing techniques you can learn to manage stress and stay the voice of reason regardless of raised voices or irrational customer behavior.  By learning to breath deeply, focus on the positives and also ensure your body doesn’t carry stress, you will be able to handle whatever (or whoever) the world sends your way.


7. Chalk it up. Here’s the thing: working with the public? There are going to be THOSE moments or sometimes even days where someone is gunning for you just because they can. Chalk it up to human nature, let it roll right off you and move on.


8. Look for the lesson.  Sometimes there’s a reason for the temperment, right? Maybe a system or process is off. A complaint can be a queue to take a look at what may need to be changed. Analyze the situation and see what can be done differently in the future for a better response.


9. Don’t lash out.  It’s easy in the heat of the moment to lash out to anyone who will listen if you’ve been mistreated by a customer (or anyone for that matter). Use caution. Breathe. Think before you speak to others so that you’re not taking your bad experience and transferring it to everyone in your wake.


10. Remember the big picture. Truth is, without customers, a company goes out of business.  Even when they are less than fun to work with – they feed the revenue stream that keeps the doors open and the checks signed. Give people the benefit of the doubt that they don’t MEAN to be challenging, and treat them with respect and understanding like the mature and successful professional that you know yourself to be.


The nice thing to keep in mind if you’re in the people business (and most of us are) – is that whatever the grievance, pressure, irritation, aggravation – any of it might be? It will done and gone before you know it. A blip on the screen. Handle it in the moment then move on to the next.  Who knows? The next one on the phone or in front of you might be the coolest customer ever!


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Monday, October 03, 2016

How to Achieve Your Goals and Finish Strong

Watch video on YouTube here:

How to Achieve Your Goals and Finish Strong

Watch video on YouTube here:

Finish Strong! The IMPORTANCE of Paying Attention to Yourself!

finish strong year goalsDid you blink?  If you’re like most of us, it may feel that way.  How it got to be the fourth quarter with the bulk of the year behind us already (again) is mind boggling – right?  And your planning for next year’s events is in full swing! Remember all those promises and resolutions made WAY back in the beginning of the year?  Yeah. About those.  It’s time to check in. Where are you?  On track? Off track? Trying to find your running shoes?  I get you.


Finishing STRONG is a passion of mine. It’s my personal mantra. It’s even the name of one of my Pinterest boards! (Go figure!) It’s about digging in and making the most of every minute now isn’t it?  Not boo-hoo-ing over what’s NOT done or NOT in your control but celebrating where you are and what you can seriously get done with the time left in the year when you’re FOCUSED on what’s in front of you.


There it is.  As a leadership expert and keynote speaker, this is the time of year when corporate event clients are asking me to include some real-world, really actionable ways to help their team members to FINISH STRONG. Sure, they usually mean to help folks re-focus on financial targets and activities that will help people achieve their goals, which is great, and I certainly do.  But for today’s exercise? Let’s do this. Let’s talk about FINISHING STRONG personally as well.  What does THAT look like to you?


To me? That’s celebrating physical and mental strength. The kind that excites you to hop out of bed every morning and stay at it. (Even when holiday party invites are flooding in or you’re questioning the decision to try the egg nog.)


If you are like me and want to absolutely grab the most from this quarter then tap into these three power strategies to help you feel ah-mazing and focus your attention on what really matters to you:


Invest 15 minutes:  I know; I ALWAYS say that.  Why?  Because it WORKS. Each day, invest 15 minutes in YOURSELF.  What that looks like is up to you. Meditation for mental strength. Or a walk after dinner with a loved one for a great exercise/connection combo. 10-minute quick calls with a mentor or team member with a 5 minute “download” to stay close to the goals.  The practice is personal to you, just make sure you are putting YOU on the to-do list every day for 15 minutes. It’s a smart investment for a healthier, happier, more successful you, I promise.


Love the way you MOVE:  Exercise.  Ugh-right? I admit, it used to be at the BOTTOM of my list too (and I know some of you out there are thinking – hey – SWEATER weather!) Here’s the trick though: find something you LOVE. Don’t roll your eyes. There is always SOMETHING. For me? I discovered running a few years ago and I’m HOOKED. Then? I caught wind of Barre3 and became addicted. I don’t mind insanely early morning classes or long weekend runs because it’s something I love to do. Find what you love to do that will get your body moving.


Make it happen.  Right there. In the calendar. You know the one, with the doctor’s appointments and client meetings and super-important can’t miss stuff?  Put your time down as a solid must-do because the truth is? If you don’t make an appointment with yourself, you are likely to cancel. Need accountability? Hire a coach. I have a running coach and I meet him twice a week. It gets me out of bed in the dark and when I completed in my workout I have no regrets. Look at it this way… YOU are the only YOU that you’ve got. That your family has. Your partner has. Your business has.  Want to lead a long, full, happy and successful life? Don’t neglect the one person you’re going to spend every moment with:  YOU. Prioritize yourself.


That’s it. Three little things.  They might not seem so little initially. They might feel a little out of your comfort level. And honestly? They might feel a little selfish. Let’s clear that up. Self-care? Self-focus?  Self-prioritizing?  Is smart business. It’s the key to being a better parent, planner, partner and person.  When we take care of ourselves we’re better equipped to take care of the rest of our worlds. So what do you say? Ready to FINISH STRONG?


Want more ideas on how to finish the last quarter strong, you might like this video and blog:

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Monday, September 26, 2016

The Business of Speaking for Women, Business Models for Speakers

070 The Business of Speaking for Woman, Business Models for Speakers, and much more with Neen James

Michael Port has one of my all-time fave podcasts called Steal the Show – his book by the same name is awesome (click here for our book review), even though this podcast focuses on the business of speaking and has many tips for women in business – I hope you find value in it too, regardless of the industry you are in.


It’s no secret I love podcasts. I listen to them when I get ready in the morning and also driving in my car. Michael Port is a legendary speaker, New York Times Best Selling Author, creator of Heroic Public Speaking and a great guy. Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed on his latest project, Steal the Show Podcast. So much fun!

Check out this interview where he asks about being a female speaker and I share strategies to stay connected to your clients, leverage your uniqueness and have fun doing what you love, with people you love in places you love!

Tips on how to price your speaking fee; and how to use social media for your business. Neen James and I also discuss the rewards and the challenges of being a woman professional speaker.

Neen is a published author of eight books, including “Folding Time.” Her latest book, “Attention Pays: Creating Moments That Matter,” is all about focusing on what’s important in our lives so we can create those moments that matter.

In this episode we discussed:

  • When and how to address “the elephant” in the room. (3:27)
  • Finding the balance between building relationships and nurturing financial goals. (10:50)
  • How to determine the right price for your speaking fees. (20:29)
  • How to make the most of your uniqueness as a woman speaker. (24:19)
  • The best ways to use different social media platforms for your business. (27:41)
  • Why you should stay in contact with your clients through “systemized thoughtfulness.” (38:31)
  • Neen James explains how she got started in the business speaking industry. (56:17)

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Attention is a Drug. Are You Addicted?

attention drug addicted“Attention is a drug,” said my brilliant friend.  His profound insight literally STOPPING our conversation. He was right.  (He usually is.) It IS a drug, and people are ADDICTED.


It started when discussing what feels like a landslide of over-sharing on Facebook. Every intimate, sometimes tragic, often graphic detail of people’s lives are being spilled out onto browsers and into minds of friends and not-so-friends all over the world. Why?  Attention can be like cocaine. People get manic for a hit of likes, comments, shares and messages. And that? Needs to change.


The truth? All humans require attention. But here’s the deal: It’s not a character flaw to crave attention; our brains are wired that way. Babies cry out for food and safety and so begins the ultimate early lessons of cause and effect. It’s only when that need for attention careens dangerously over the edge that people begin to see it as a problem.


Psychology Today states “extreme attention seekers go to unhealthy lengths driven by emotional desperation”. Is that it? Is that why people are pouring themselves out on social media or worse? Upending relationships or spiraling into food, alcohol or drugs?  As leaders we have a responsibility to manage our attention to create significance.


As a keynote speaker for corporate audiences and associations around the globe, I am often asked to share leadership strategies on how to accelerate productivity, increase sales or drive client experiences. My tip? It comes down to ATTENTION. Teams want to be seen and heard, and families want to feel valued.


In my keynotes we prescribe the following for this attention addiction:


See People.  We all want and need to be heard.  My 5-year-old friend Donovan reminded me of this when he grabbed my cheeks in both little hands and demanded, “Neen, listen with your eyes!” How’s that for insight? Are you SEEING people in your life?  Does your team get your complete attention when they walk into your office or do you stay disengaged? Does your family get your undivided attention when you get home or are you checking today’s Facebook posts? Bottom line? If the people we care about don’t feel seen, they’ll seek attention somewhere else. Seek out a true friend who will be honest with you. My best friend and I always say, “she’s my person”. It means we see and hear each other deeply, at our best, and at our worst. It’s an understanding, truth and commitment. Who is your person?


Stop the Drama.  I am allergic to drama. I don’t engage in it or tolerate it. The running joke? Is how BORING my life is compared to those online. It’s also healthier.  Make your life, work and home – a no drama zone. It’s a powerful way to better see and hear the people that matter the most to you.


Create significant moments.  Every day explore ways to help people feel that they matter. A handwritten note. A smile for a stranger. Compliment your barista. Thank your security guard. Shout out to a team member on email or thank a client with a gift. Personal attention gets results. Look for ways to help people feel significant.  Who needs reminding they matter to you?


My friend Jon Petz, keynote speaker and author of the book Significance in Simple Moments shares, “People have a false sense of social significance when living their lives online.” We discussed some people’s personalities crave the recognition from others as they don’t get it at home or from their relationships with people they love, so they seek it from strangers online.


I’ve been guilty of over-sharing online. Posting a picture of a meal on Instagram, texting a friend for a late night conversation when traveling, feeling lonely at the airport, and re-tweeting online compliments. Not my proudest moments, but human ones. Let’s all just make to look at those attention cravings and ensure we haven’t crossed that addictive line.


Today, be ah-amazing. Use your ATTENTION for good. Like making a connection with the people around you.  When you do?  Attention pays you back – in the best possible ways.

The post Attention is a Drug. Are You Addicted? appeared first on Neen James.

Monday, September 12, 2016

10 Things to Make Travel Super Productive

airplane-travelMany of us travel for work and I thought you might enjoy this article published in MeetingsNet magazine on ways to be super-productive when you travel! Enjoy.

When you tell people that you travel the globe organizing, planning, and facilitating events for your super-cool clients, do they say, “Wow, that sounds so glamorous”? Little do they know just how much work that entails—not to mention airport delays, weather, confusing airport hubs, mechanical breakdowns, crying babies…

As a productivity and attention expert, I am constantly on the road like you—it’s just part of our chosen professions. And it can be hard to get everything done that needs doing.

Here are 10 strategies to help you be more productive before you hop aboard your next plane:

1. Buy the tools and the apps—you need music, noise-cancelling headphones (expensive I know, but worth it), and your smart phone. Load your phone with apps to make your travel life easier: Pzizz (one of my fave power-napping apps), Evernote,Expedia, Gate Guru, Seat Guru … the list is endless. What is your fave app for traveling? Please share it in the comments below.

2. Create a travel outfit—put together an outfit that you can easily wear through security without totally getting undressed! Try slip-on shoes, minimum jewelry, and fabulous non-creasing fabric.

This video will provide you more tips for traveling and answer the following questions: 

  • How not to fall behind on work and clients while on the road traveling?
  • What are the best apps and systems to use to manage the details of the trip?
  • What’s the best, most durable luggage for frequent travelers?

3. Pre-pack Ziploc bags to include travel-sized everything! You just know that the day you try to sneak through a larger size is going to be the day TSA decides to check your bag.

4. Create a survival kit—Stow the things you know you’ll need in your carry on. I always include earphones, lip balm, an eye mask (for longer flights), pen, eye drops, travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste, a pashmina throw (in case it’s chilly), and breath mints (yes, please do everyone a favor and use mints!).

5. Get a Platinum Amex card—yes, it’s expensive, but, because it often gives you access to U.S. airline lounges, it’s cheaper than joining all the airline clubs. Their Centurion Lounge access is so worth it, and they are opening more around the U.S.

6. Create fun out-of-office messages—manage the email and voicemail expectations of those who want your attention. Make it a fun message that you can share with clients about what you are doing and when you will return. Think about how you can surprise and delight your callers with your out-of-office message.

7. Plan to work one way—I use the trip away for the client and the trip home for myself. So I might work on a presentation or read notes on the way over, but on the trip home I often have a little nap or read for pleasure. Can you divide up your trip?

8. Allow an extra 30 minutes—add a half-hour to the amount of time you think it will take you to get to the airport or station. It will save you a stressful race to the gate if you find yourself stuck in traffic or the security line is longer than you expected. You may not need it, but you can always use it for something else!

9. Bring a list of clients to call—airport down time is a brilliant time to catch up on your business development activities, so always carry a list of people you can call. Even though it’s noisy, it’s a great way to make travel time more productive. Make the most of those extra minutes.

10. Bring thank-you note materials—carry stamped stationery with you (yes that’s right, the old-fashioned kind), and use some of your travel down time to write thank-you notes. No one send notes anymore, so this is a great way to stand out in a digital communication world—you’ll be the exception whose personal touch will get attention!

Bonus tip: If you want to be even more productive when you get to your destination … go to the bar! I know that sounds crazy, but if you are an extrovert you might work better around people and noise.

How do you make your travel time more productive?


This article was first published on and be found here.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

How to Have a Productive Fourth Quarter

Watch video on YouTube here:

Attention Goal Setters: How to Have an Extraordinary Fourth Quarter

End of Year Fourth Quarter Fiscal Goals PrioritiesFourth quarter? What happened? We blinked. That’s it.  Summer’s in the wind, and autumn is in already heading into full swing.  Calendars are changing. Plans are being made. And eyes are on the end of the year prize. Did you do what you wanted to do?  Did you reach milestones? Or do you still have miles to go?

It’s about that time.  Leaders are in full scale acceleration mode to pull out the stops and screech into the new year with kudos all around.  I’ve got you covered to help make it AH-Mazing – with a side order of fun.


First, do yourself and your team a favor:  Watch this (old) interview with the fabulous News at Sunrise Anchor Eve Tannery where we shared strategies on her show. It’s on the money.


Second, take a few minutes to watch my video on the 10 ways you can make the most of the remainder of the year.


This video will help answer:

  • How do I make my Fourth quarter the most productive of the year?
  • How can I reach my annual goals with only a few months left?
  • How do I keep my team focused during Fourth quarter?


Lastly, implement these steps to ensure absolute focus and attention is paid to those goals and priorities you wish to accomplish throughout the remainder of the year.


1. Monday Makeover: Give yourself a 15-minute head start on this week’s activities, so your I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed and you’re absolutely ready for anything. Meetings?  Totally cool.  Performance reviews? You’ve got this. Appointments?  Locked and focused.  Deadlines and deliverables?  You’re a master.  Next take a glance at the month ahead and prioritize your pipeline.  Might it take more than 15 minutes? Maybe. Once this is a habit?  You’ll breeze through with ease.


2. Money talks: Here’s to conquering the Achilles’s heel of many business professionals. Watch those financial targets and keep them in your sites to remind yourself weekly of the last quarter results that are your responsibility. Mine are printed above my desk and on my phone for daily accountability!


3. Gaps & Goals: Now’s the perfect time to rock a gap analysis of where you are vs. where your GOALS said you’d be at this time. Deep dive to see and understand what’s necessary to bridge that gap if your revenue, productivity, prospecting or sales aren’t where you want or need them to be.  THAT will become the foundation of your plan of action for the next three months.


4. Hustle & Grit. Ever hear that saying, “No grit—no pearl?” Now’s the time to hunker in and fire up your internal urgency to close deals, follow up on proposals, add value to clients and make hit the phones and connect with that client base.  Watch goals daily, weekly and monthly and monitor them like your business depends on it.  Because it does.


5. Less is MORE.  Meetings are necessary, check! But time? Is of the absolute essence. So pare down. Make sure they are time-efficient team meetings that are NO longer than 20-40 minutes, tops, with agendas and clear objectives.


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How to Have a Productive Fourth Quarter

Watch video on YouTube here: