Monday, January 16, 2017

ATTENTION to Employee Stress and Health

employee stressSet the Tone for Success

Bottom line? When your team members aren’t at the top of their game in terms of health and wellness it absolutely affects the productivity, profitability and your ability to compete at a high level. But, when you give your team the tools and cultivate the environment that allows them to feel their best and optimize the health and employee stress — you’ve got a powerful recipe for skyrocketing productivity and a can’t beat momentum. Where to start?


PAY ATTENTION to the health and wellness of your team members.


Here are a few ways paying ATTENTION to this critical factor of your organization can pay you back in high dividends:


  1. Create a healthier environment. Make your workspace a hotbed of healthy choices to see stress goes down and healthy choices go up. Try:
    1. encouraging breaks
    2. taking notice of those who consistently stay late and work to change that
    3. keeping a supply of healthy snacks and fresh water on hand
    4. increasing the presence of live plants in the office to purify the air
    5. Hosting a morning or afternoon stretch session daily


  1. Reward employees for kicking bad habits. I’ve worked with many organizations who make health a priority.  Some ideas to do that as well include:
    1. Host a fitness contest. The person that loses the most in a certain time frame wins a prize or even better – means dollars towards a charity of choice.  When people have a common cause or purpose that they are passionate about, it’s easier to stick to goals.
    2. Create a Fitbit step challenge – with weekly step goals.
    3. Reward team members who kick bad habits such as smoking or consuming sugary sodas or drinks.


  1. Help create accountability partnerships. One amazing component in helping people stick to goals is to help make sure no one is going it alone. When you share your goal with others, those folks are going to become your champions and help you achieve those goals.  Pairing people up, or creating teams that work together to make sure they stay on track is powerful. Partnerships work because when people are ACCOUNTABLE to someone other than themselves, they are more likely to stay “in it to win it”.


  1. Recognize and reward team members for their accomplishments. A little attention goes a LONG way to helping people feel appreciated and their efforts validated.  Consider setting aside a little time each week to write notes of encouragement or make a few calls with kudos to those who are going the extra mile towards their goal. I’ve even heard of organizations that have a “Gratitude Wall” in their offices where people are encouraged to encourage one another. How cool! Remember, your team members watch what you do even more than just listen to what you say so set the example.  Are you all work and no play?  Are you focused on fitness and committed to less stress?  Are you showing appreciation and encouraging others to do the same?


  1. Make it FUN! When you turn up the fun, you turn down the stress levels. Don’t be afraid to get creative.  I know organizations that turn up the tunes every morning and everyone does a 15-minute stretch. Some get their game on with company basketball, baseball, softball or soccer teams. A golf tournament. Or put a running group together. Throw a company picnic twice a year, or make time for Fun Fridays where everyone enjoys a fit-friendly potluck lunch.  One of my clients, Comcast, has a terrific project they do that they call Comcast Cares where they go out into their communities and do service projects.  It’s good for their teams, their communities – and their brand! Think of ways you can add fun into your culture and watch at how positively your team reacts.


For more ideas and ways you can engage positive employee participation in your health and wellness programs, watch this video. It will help you understand:
– How to reduce employee stress
– How to create employee wellness programs
– How to encourage good habits and accountability


The saying, “what we think about and thank about we bring about” is so true.  Health and wellness absolutely DESERVE to have your ATTENTION if what you want is to keep your team happier, more productive, more accountable and your bottom line more profitable.  Try some of these strategies in your organization to make it a much more AH-MAZING place to grow!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Pay Attention to Who Gets Your Attention

unsubscribe avoid dramaAs a productivity and attention expert I often prescribe to the audiences in my keynotes ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’… yes I am shouting!


In a world where so many leaders are overwhelmed, overstressed and over-tired we need to focus on what really matters, pay attention to the people and the activities that will give us the greatest return on our time and attention investment. This is where you come in.



Here are three strategies for you to be more focused, responsible and diligent this year.


UNSUBSCRIBEnot just for the email you get bombarded with. UNfollow people on Facebook… UNfriend them if you need to. Be focused about what you are reading on a daily basis and what you are allowing into your beautiful mind. I unfollow, unfriend and unsubscribe My Facebook feed might feature maybe 12 people now, if I want to know what’s happening in someone’s life I type in their name. Easy peasy. Get rid of the mental clutter. UN-everything. Be focused.


Avoid drama – my friends will tell you I don’t do drama, don’t tolerate drama and when there have been times in my life there has been drama, maybe I told 2 people. Why? Because no one cares. No one needs to know about all the drama. Social media sites like Facebook  used to be a for fluffy bunnies and cute kittens or baby goats in pajamas, now it’s full of nasty political posts and people screaming for attention. When I posted the above image on Instagram (one of my fave social media sites), my friend Clay Hebert responded ‘not my circus, not my monkeys’– great phrase. If you have people in your life that I call VDPs (very draining people), eliminate them. If you can’t eliminate them, minimize your exposure to them. Don’t waste your time and energy on other people’s drama. Be diligent.


Ask Who? – determine who gets your valuable attention. One of my brilliant friends once told me ‘if I give you my attention, that’s my most precious resource’ – he’s right. We can’t manage time, we can only manage who and what gets our attention. Avoid the VDPs, the social media drains, the social obligations you despise, and the negative people in your office. Your focus, your energy and your time, it’s YOUR choice. Be responsible.


This year you determine how you can be your most ah-mazing self.

How you can lead your team, yourself and your community?

Who, and what deserve your attention.


So go out there and Unsubscribe from other people’s issues. Focus on creating more significant moments that matter.

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Monday, January 02, 2017

What Do You Want MORE of in 2017?

2017 new year more abundanceUsually when people are planning for the new year, they are resolving to SUBTRACT things from their lives with such as extra weight, bad habits, tightening the “belt” on their budgets, etc. Less is more-right? I get it, I do – but hear me out. What if this year, in 2017, we turned that around and instead asked ourselves…

… What do I want MORE of?

Here’s why: Attention is the new currency, and it’s yours for the taking. Ever hear that saying by Bob Proctor, “What you think about you bring about?” He was literally – on – the – money.

What we pay ATTENTION to focus on, nurture – that’s what we create more of. Money. Time. Love. You name it, you can create more of it.

So, if what we really, truly want in our new year is to…

Do more.

Be more.

Love more.

Cuddle more.

Smile more.

Achieve more.

Stop more.

Breathe more.

Laugh more.

Play more.

Grow more.

See more.

(On my list, I’m adding more champagne and snuggles to round it out with a festive flair!)

I’m a big believer in abundance. (Read more here.)

In filling your cup (or your bucket) with all that is good in the world and keeping your mindset clear and focused on what you DO want to bring about rather than what you do NOT. It takes practice, to be sure – to move from scarcity mindset (there isn’t enough) to abundant mindset (there’s MORE than enough), especially in today’s fast-paced, competitive world. Fear of scarcity shuts us down creatively, emotionally, mentally. It stops us from realizing our potential. The flip side of that coin is using affirmation to embrace and fuel ABUNDANCE-thinking sparks our creativity, helps us fire on all cylinders energetically, allows us to open doors we never even dreamed of and make connections that allow us to build momentum.

Powerful right! CONSCIOUS choices. Every day. Every morning you put your feet on the floor and head out the door you have a CHOICE to look for the good, the positive, the opportunities, the solutions – or you can accept status quo and stay rooted where you are. It truly all begins with choices.

Right now, think EXPANSIVELY about what you want MORE of in 2017. No small thoughts. No limitations. Go BIG. Now write that stuff down. Find a picture of it. Put it in front of you every day for the next twelve months. Then PRACTICE choosing to FOCUS and pay ATTENTION to these things every day. Practice until it becomes exciting. Practice until it becomes your new normal. Practice until you start saying to yourself, “Holy smokes, that worked!”

Our minds are AH-MAZING gifts that have unlimited capacity to help us go wherever we want to go in this world. Our job is step out of the way a little bit and give it the fuel it needs to go on the journey.

So… What do you choose more of in 2017? Share your ideas with us here on our blog. Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Aussie Hugs and Champagne Kisses

champagne kissesRegardless of the holiday you celebrate, it can be a busy (and stressful). This holiday let’s choose the following:

Give the gift of your undivided attention – turn off technology, look people in the eyes and have a great conversation with someone you value this holiday season.

Donate your time – we don’t have time to do everything, only time to do what matters. Do you have an elderly person in your neighborhood that could use your help, a mum who would value babysitting for an hour, or a team member who would benefit from your mentoring – your time is precious to them too.

Donate to charity – choose to replace one gift for a donation to a charity you believe in. We love Operation Smile – every child deserves a smile – you can click here if you want to donate.

Need more ideas on how to save time this holiday season, check out these personal and professional tips to help you prepare.


When you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are strategies to stay focused on the joy the season brings, and rid yourself of unnecessary stress and distractions.

This video will show you how to:

– Save time this holiday season
– Focus on friends and family this holiday
– Avoid holiday season stress


May you enjoy your holiday season celebrating with friends, family and loved ones. Pay attention to what matters most and I’ll see you after the New Year.


Aussie Hugs and Champagne Kisses,

Neen James


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Monday, December 19, 2016

Get Up and Get Going: Wake Up at 4am

wake upAre you a morning bird or a night owl? Do you know when you work best? Many studies show when we schedule our toughest, most thought provoking tasks, we should do it during the time we are most alert and focused.

For this reason, I’m sharing this fabulous piece I read in written by the brilliant @MarcelSchwantes and @petershankman about a 4 a.m wak up call. If 4 a.m. sounds crazy to you, begin simply by waking up an extra 15 minutes earlier than normal. If you typically awake by 6am, set your clock for 5:45. You’ll be ah-mazed with what you can accomplish.

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did!


A few days ago, I shared my thoughts on what billionaire entrepreneurs do to stay productive in their spare time.

What I didn’t know is that there’s a recent productivity trend on the rise. A number of successful leaders and entrepreneurs, I have found, are declaring that they are most productive while the majority of us are still under the covers in a deep sleep.

The 4 a.m. productivity shift.

A new report published in the Wall Street Journal says that 4 a.m. may be the most productive time of the day. The reasons behind the increased productivity at such an ungodly hour include:

  • Minimal distractions (like kids or work) before the sun rises.
  • No one is emailing or texting you.
  • There’s less to see on social media.

Productivity in this context may not necessarily be work-related. The trend seems to be pointing toward reserving this “sacred time” for things that will energize you and set you up for success the rest of the day — self-care, exercise, family time, personal growth, and spiritual connection.

Among the most famous executives who are coming out to say 4 a.m. is the way to go:

  • Tim Cook: The Apple CEO actually starts his morning routine at 3:45 a.m.
  • Sallie Krawcheck: The chief executive of Ellevest has written, “I’m never more productive than at 4 a.m.”
  • Richard Branson: The billionaire entrepreneur actually wakes up a tad later, at 5 a.m., to exercise and spend time with family. He says it “puts me in a great mind frame before getting down to business.”
  • Michelle Gass: The former president of Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Russia, Africa) and now chief merchandising and customer officer at Kohl’s department stores, sets her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to go running.
  • David Cush: The Virgin America CEO wakes up at 4:15 a.m to call business associates on the East Coast, then he’ll listen to sports radio, read the paper and hit the gym.

There is a tradeoff. Getting up before the crack of dawn means falling asleep earlier–much earlier. That could mean less social time with friends or downtime to catch that important playoff night game.

Peter Shankman, a 44-year-old entrepreneur and speaker based in New York City says in the Wall Street Journal article, “I’m exhausted, but in a good way, which means I won’t have the energy to do something stupid like eat two gallons of Ben & Jerry’s at 10:30 p.m.”

10 smart hacks that will encourage your new morning shift.

If you’re wondering what to do with your early-morning time that will get your day off to a productive start, I suggest these 10 things.

1. Meditate.

Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington both start their morning with 20 to 30 minutes of meditation. Oprah says, “only from that space can you create your best work and your best life.” Setting aside this little morning ritual can make the rest of your day seem manageable. You’ll notice a weight come off your shoulders.

2. Start with an early workout.

Exercise is an obvious running theme (no pun intended) here. Entrepreneur Russ Perry jumps on the first gym class of the day, at 5 a.m. “I’ve actually made some friends with similar schedules and lifestyles,” Perry told Journal.

3. Do this breathing exercise.

Shawn Achor, Harvard-trained happiness researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage, tells us to breathe and watch our breath go in and out for two minutes. He says do this every day. This allows your brain to focus on one thing at a time and, Achor says, it will improve levels of happiness and drop stress levels.

4. Sleep in your workout gear.

Shankman also told Journal he sleeps in his gym clothes and puts his sneakers on within 10 seconds of waking up. “It’s very hard to go back to sleep once your shoes are on.”

5. Find a reason to get up.

It sounds like a cliché but: What gets you up in the morning? Really, I’m asking. Don’t wake up at 4 a.m. for the heck of it. Have a plan–something you want to do for yourself, preferably something fun or stimulating that will bring excitement to your day.

6. Change the location of your alarm clock.

Having your alarm clock (or smartphone) next to your bed and within arm’s length is the number one reason most people can’t get up in the morning. How many times have you turned off your alarm without being alert enough to know that you turned it off? Exactly. Best place for it is in the bathroom since you’re headed there anyway to shower and do your morning “business.”

7. Imagine what you could do with an extra hour.

This is a creativity exercise, so picture in your mind: what would you do if you had an extra hour in the day? Would you use it to exercise? Read more? Cook breakfast for the kids? Water your garden? Take the dog for that long walk you know it will love?

8. Whatever you do, don’t skip a healthy breakfast.

Trade your bowl of sugary cereal for something healthy like oatmeal or a protein berry smoothie (have all the parts cut up the night before and ready to be blended). You’ll avoid being tired and hungry later when the sugar jolt wears off. Try fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and lean protein options that will keep you going until lunch time. The Beachbody Blog offers these excellent meal choices to fuel your morning.

9. Set three goals for the day.

Again, don’t think daily tasks on your work to-do list. The most successful people start the day by putting their mental focus on something that will make them better. What will grow you, give you more energy, make you happier, and set the stage for an epic productive day?

10. Clear your inbox.

If you choose to use this time slot for work-related tasks, you could plan to answer all your emails and messages from the previous day or week. If you’re that hardcore, more power to you: Challenge yourself to having a “zero inbox policy” by 6 a.m.

Closing thoughts.

Need a boost to make it happen? Try following #21earlydays, where early-risers challenge themselves to wake up 21 consecutive workdays at 4:30 a.m.–something started by entrepreneur and Prodsmart marketing manager Filipe Castro Matos. He even documents what he learned along his 21-day journey and passes on 12 tips on this Medium blog.




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Friday, December 16, 2016

Decking the Halls and Dealing with Deadlines

How to Keep Your Productivity High and STILL Enjoy the Season

holiday deadlines

Holidays have you decking the halls while simultaneously trying to slide in under deadlines? Feeling less ho-ho-ho and more ho-hum because time seems to be ticking faster than a New Year’s Eve ball-dropping countdown? I know. It may be the most magical time of year for some but for many in today’s 24/7 world there’s a whole lot of stress served up along with those holiday trimmings.

If that sounds like you and you’re raising your hand like little Cindy Lou Who, let’s take a look at a list of 10 deadline strategies that are less about naughty and nice and all about crushing your productivity while still having time for those reindeer games.

  1. 15 Minute Mental List Release: Give your memory a break during the hustle and bustle. Take 15 minutes each morning to just do download your “mental list” of everything on your work/home to-do list and create a plan. Take tip from sales training pro and author Brian Tracy who shared, “It takes only about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you up to two hours (100 to 120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort through the day.” We could all use time savings like that! I also loved Megan Kristel’s tips for how to be happy in 15 minutes each day – click here for more.
  2. One stop shopping: No time for mall madness or dashing through the snow?  Let your fingers do the walking.  Shopping online is perfect for knocking out your gift list on a deadline, having everything delivered timely, and many stores offer gift wrapping options. You can even “gift” Amazon Prime memberships now – how about that?
  3. Give experiences. Instead of a candle, wine or standard gift – you may consider giving an “experience” instead.  “The reason experiential gifts are more socially connecting is that they tend to be more emotionally evocative,” says Cindy Chan, an expert on consumer relationships. Have fun with it. Gift cards are also now available in wide varieties. One fun idea for couples or families are gift cards for the movies. It’s a luxury for a lot of people now and they’ll think of you fondly when they get to go on date night or have a nigh t out for fun with the kids! Put a bag of popcorn in a padded envelope with the movie gift cards and you’ve got an awesome gift. Restaurants, spas, or gift certificates to an interactive experience like the Escape Rooms or Rock Climbing places that are cropping up everywhere are terrific ideas as well.
  4. Help with the clean sweep: Book a cleaning service to do some of your heavy lifting this season. Think of it as a gift you give yourself, your business, and your family. According to Meagan Francis, author of, hiring someone to clean your home, especially during stressful times, is a smart management decision – it allows you to focus on bottom line production. It’s also good for the health of your family (be gone dust mites), and wonderful for your mental well-being.
  5. Put your VIPs on the top of your list: While you’re filling your calendar, be sure that high achieving team members are made to feel special with some one-on-one time and reward high performers with an early afternoon.  Time off is a hot commodity this time of year!
  6. Ring-a-ling: Be sure you are setting aside a solid 15 minutes every day to call clients with a warm holiday wish.  I love the advice Fordyce Letter of Recruiting Straight Talk shares, “For certain clients and prospects, a quick telephone call to wish them a happy holiday goes a long way to separating yourself from the competition. If you get their voicemail simply offer your best wishes and let them know you will follow-up in the New Year. Too many rule out the telephone at this time of year when it should be your first choice.”
  7. Gifting inspired action: Want a great gift idea? Think powerful productivity, communication or success books for your team that will fire them up for the new year. I recommend Folding Time  (of course because this is my book!), Steal the Show (Michael Port’s great book makes a great gift for anyone in your life), and Fascinate (Sally Hogshead is a great speaker and friend and this book is awesome) … if you need more recommendations check out our blog.
  8. Delegate: More than almost any other time, delegate all the little things you can so you can stay focused on achieving your highest priority items. From family members to assistants, to virtual assistants to the neighbor’s college kid that is home on break and needs some holiday cash.  Take those pesky items on your to do list that you don’t want or need to do and delegate! When it comes to deadlines, many hands make light work.
  9. Exercise: I said it. I know no one wants to think about it when there’s Christmas cookies to nibble and nog to sip.  Without keeping our health and body on the list, we won’t have the energy we need to be our most productive selves.  Might it require a little earlier rise in the morning or a shift in schedule? Probably. But you’ll feel better and you can try that slice of pie guilt-free!
  10. Make family and friends a priority: If you’re like most top producers, there are times of year your family thinks you might be in stealth mode. Be sure this isn’t that time.  Schedule in fun. Decorating. Laughing. Holiday movie watching. Down time.  All work and no play never made anyone happier.  Find the balance. Calm the chaos, stop and enjoy being in the present with everyone you meet today. And give generously of your time, smiles, hugs and encouragement.
  11. Hire a coach or mentor: No idea how to achieve that balance thing we just mentioned? Feel like you’re just not quite where you want to be? Then this is the perfect time of year, while you’re goal-setting and reviewing your accomplishments from the past twelve months to consider taking your career and life to the next level by bringing on a coach that can help you streamline your strategies, manager your time, and establish a healthy life and business balance. I love this quote by Miles Jennings,, “Business coaches have one goal: to make your ideas into a reality. Although you may have many brilliant ideas for your company, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start and what to tackle first. Business coaches will evaluate your plans, assess if they are realistic or will be successful and set out a way that you can implement them correctly.”  Read this great article in with the top ten reasons to hire a coach and if I can help you as a business mentor, I am only an email away, let’s connect! .

Now, go out there and love every minute of the rest of this sensational season.  Breathe deep. Smile big. Get the most out of each day.  And know I’m here to help every step of the way!

The happiest of holidays to you!

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