Monday, August 28, 2017

Achieve Peak Performance – Pay Attention to YOUR Well-Being

Peak PerformanceSome of the smartest and most successful people I know understand in order to have the ability to work at peak performance levels requires incredible energy and stamina. To have that consistently, one has to schedule recovery time. It’s as important to your bottom line as landing that big client or making the next sale. Let this sink in:  According to SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management, 85% of talent managers agree employees who use most (or all) of their vacation time are more productive and focused.  


See, part of taking care of yourself is being a champion for your own physical and mental well-being. That’s why you’ll see extraordinary leaders plan and take vacation down time. That means disconnection from responsibility, technology, and even emails! (That last one scared you a little, didn’t it? Studies show that over 50% of employees check work-related emails after hours, on vacation and during holidays. STOP.) While it’s not always possible to completely “unplug”, it should be a goal to use your down time as true time away. To replenish the mind and spirit. To shake out the cobwebs. Find new perspective. Renew energy levels. And make quality time to pay ATTENTION to loved ones the top priority.  


I read an article not long ago in Fortune Magazine that shared how Europeans think Americans are crazy because while they take up to six weeks of vacation per year, statistics show that US employees leave 429 million vacation days on the table annually. Interestingly 40% of executives think employees would be more productive if they took vacations. Yet among those same senior managers, 72% said if offered unlimited vacation time they wouldn’t take it! What’ THAT about?  


If what you REALLY want is to be better at what you do, and have a better life while you’re doing it – try these three strategies for scheduling recovery and downtime:  


Plan early: One thing we do as a team, is review calendars at the first part of the year and plan a variety of trips during that year and might include cars, bikes, pool time or trips back to Australia to see family and friends. It’s a practice we have followed for many years to ensure the majority of vacations are scheduled to give us experiences to look forward to. Can you review your calendar and book time to enjoy something that you love to do with people you love being with? 


Create varietyLook for ways you can mix it up – with a variety of destinations, adventures and times of year based on your needs and budgets. I’m not a stay-cation kind of gal. My office is in my home (maybe you have one there too.) That means I would just work the whole time, so that doesn’t work for me. For some people, it works. Consider visiting a new spot, driving instead of flying, build in adventure, art galleries visits, or a walking tour of a city. With so many online tools to help plan your visit, you can leverage community events, support local initiatives and experience cities and towns in a completely new way. We often use the site, as I prefer an apartment or a house than a hotel when traveling for extended stays. We have used this service around the world and have loved it every time. My career allows me the luxury of travel to incredible places staying in lovely hotels and yet some vacations the idea of getting on another plane or staying in another hotel. Can you and your family choose a new adventure in the next twelve months that everyone can help plan to enjoy a trip together? 


Go offline: This is the toughest ask for many of our clients (and me) but it’s not impossible! Can you create an out of office message that bounces back to manage email providing an alternative person to help while you are away? Can you stay off social media and instead focus all that time and attention on creating memories with those you love? I am a huge fan of a digital detox; your vacation is a great time to do that. 


Get outside.There’s something incredibly life-affirming about getting outdoors in beautiful new space. Think mountain hikes, a walk on a nature path, collecting shells on a beach, or catching fish on a lake. Have you ever noticed how much better you feel, how much deeper you sleep and how much healthier you feel on vacation when you invest time to be active while you are relaxing? 


Create memories: Truly, isn’t one of the biggest reasons we work so hard is to create a lifestyle for our loved ones? Keep this in mind – recovery time is not always just about your taking a break, it’s about taking the time to create special experiences with family and friends. It’s about connection. It’s also NOT negotiable for any leader who wants to excel. If you want to accelerate your leadership and be a productive contributor on your team? Take time off. You will be more fun to work with, more focused and energized and you will create memories with people you care about, and isn’t that the reason many of us work? 


Here’s my challenge to you: Pay attention to what matters. You, your health, and your loved ones all benefit from scheduled recovery, book yours today.  Need more convincing or ideas how you can achieve peak performance through regularly scheduled recovery time? Check out this video and learn how professionals can achieve maximum productivity results, focus and dedicated attention to goals and priorities through recovery time. 


Want to learn more about making the most of your time? Take a look at my book Folding Time. It’s a game changer!  

The post Achieve Peak Performance – Pay Attention to YOUR Well-Being appeared first on Neen James.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Multitasking is a Productivity Lie - How to Boost Productivity by Paying Attention

Watch video on YouTube here:

Multitasking is a Productivity Lie - How to Boost Productivity by Paying Attention

Watch video on YouTube here:

Book Review: HR on Purpose – 4 Ideas to Implement Immediately for Human Resources

Human ResourcesSHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), a brilliant organization contributing to the training and development of Human Resources, is fortunate to have Steve Browne in their membership. He is one of their most beloved members, generous, knowledgeable, and welcoming to anyone. If you have ever met him, you will agree with me.



Imagine my delight when I found his book, HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion in the SHRM bookstore while speaking at their annual eventHuman Resources


If you are in Human Resources, or manage people, this is a must-read. In it, Steve makes the powerful point that most companies struggle with communication and training. That’s SO true. In my work with media companies, credit unions, hospitals, pharmaceutical organizations and corporations of all sizes, I have seen and heard firsthand how these two elements can create chaos. Steve expertly addresses both and shares ah-mazing strategies for handling them and more.


It was a page-turner! Filled with funny stories, great examples, and practical solutions. I promise you will find it an easy read. If you are like me, you will probably dog-ear the pages so you can reference to come back later.


He makes so many great points it’s hard to list them all! Here a few of my favorites that are in line with our thinking about paying attention to what REALLY matters. See if you agree.


  • Culture is the number one reason employees stay or leave your company. He’s absolutely right.  To attract and keep great talent, you’ve got to get the culture part of the equation right.


  • Stop being transactional and start being strategic. This is one of my favorite Human Resources strategies. You have heard me often share that leaders to focus on strategy and help define a road map for their team to implement tactics. Sometimes tactics are more fun. Easier. Quicker to feel like you are crossing something off your list. Leaders need to focus on strategy first.


  • Surround yourself with positive people. In our book Folding Time we talk about VIPs (very inspiring people) versus VDPs (very draining people). We all need more VIPs in our life to help inspire and motivate us, especially on those hard days.  Leadership is lonely, having your own cheer squad or people that inspire you can make your days more productive.


  • Don’t say you are busy. I hate that phrase, so does Steve. Hate is a strong word (mine, not his). When I ask people how they are and they reply, “So busy”… they often don’t see my massive eyeroll. Everyone is busy. That’s life. That’s adult-ing. When I am asked that question I’d rather say, “Life is very full”. The brilliant Steve Browne agrees, he says, “I’m full”! I love that.

Need more convincing: watch my video to learn how this book can elevate your Human Resources organization or personal interaction with people in your department.


Human ResourcesIf you want to be more purposeful in the way you manage people, or if you are in Human Resources in any responsibility in any size company, this is a great resource for you. Buy it. Enjoy it and share it with your team.  Follow Steve and his great advice on Twitter.


I’d love to hear your thoughts! Share them with me here on the blog, or find me on social media as well.

The post Book Review: HR on Purpose – 4 Ideas to Implement Immediately for Human Resources appeared first on Neen James.

Monday, August 21, 2017

SHRM Annual Conference Paycom Break Room Podcast

SHRM Annual ConferenceEvery year, the Society of Human Resource Management SHRM annual conference is held so that HR professionals from around the world can gather and learn from industry experts, and share their experiences. Paycom attended the 2017 SHRM annual conference in New Orleans to meet with industry thought leaders, SHRM volunteers and conference attendees, and learn more about the latest workforce trends.

In this special SHRM Annual Conference HR Break Room conversation, Caleb talks with keynote speaker and author of Folding Time, Neen James, and the Oklahoma HR State Council Director-Elect, Mike Shaw. In this episode, we break down the SHRM annual conference different sessions and networking opportunities. Also, Neen talks about the premise of her book, and discusses why time management is out and attention management is in.

Paycom 2017 SHRM HR Break Room

In this special HR Break Room talk, the panel will discuss:

  • SHRM’s different sessions
  • the rich networking opportunities the SHRM conference offers attendees
  • the important distinction between managing time and managing attention

The post SHRM Annual Conference Paycom Break Room Podcast appeared first on Neen James.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Who is Your Pete? B Cellars Attention to Customers

B Cellars Extraordinary Customer Experience“Welcome to B Cellars,” she said with a huge smile.


It was one of those insanely hot days in Napa, in the middle of summer, and we were greeted with her kindness and a cold drink and informed our guide Pete would be with us shortly.


This relatively new vineyard and winery is a little oasis, located in Oakville, it was one of my favorites on our last trip. I love Napa. I love Sonoma. I love champagne… you could see how a weekend here is my perfect getaway.B Cellars Extraordinary Customer Experience

What struck me about the B Cellars vineyard was the level of attention they paid from the moment we arrived until we left with our delicious wines.


Not only were we greeted with the phrase, “Are you Mr. and Mrs. James?”… wait was I wearing a nametag? No. They were just that good.


Our tour guide Pete, came out to greet us and share the overview of the afternoon ‘experience’ as he called it. We were waiting for one other couple to join us, but let’s enjoy a nice Rosé while we wait! Yes, let’s.


When we entered this gorgeous glass and brick modern building it was complete with an open kitchen, elegantly placed merchandise, white linens, and multiple sparkling glasses on each table. While we were standing sipping our Rosé, the chef whipped up us a little morsel of fabulousness for each of us to try, I was sold!



B Cellars Extraordinary Customer Experience

Next, quick introductions, a refill of the Rosé, and then off to the gardens we went. Pete was enthusiastic as he explained the vines (all lovingly dedicated to different family members marked by plaques at the end of each row) and surrounded by olive trees for a little shade, it really is a pretty vineyard. Then he lovingly showed us their garden, so proud of growing a wide variety of herbs and vegetables used by the Chef to delight the taste buds of their guests.


As we walked towards the caves I was a little apprehensive (you may not know I am claustrophobic) but as the doors opened to the dark room filled with wine barrels, I felt totally at ease and even more adventurous. Wandering through the elegant space, it’s easy to be captivated. They had created special entertaining rooms for parties and events and Pete even opened a barrel for us to taste (clearly this is smart marketing–but I didn’t care, I loved it). We later purchased some of that same wine for when it is to be released later this year.


B Cellars Extraordinary Customer ExperienceWhen we returned to the main building we were seated to find menus customized with our names, and a series of great wine selections each accompanied by a handmade treat from the chef in the open kitchen. I was in heaven. I even commented that the crispy chicken leg might have been the best thing I tasted all day. Note: Not even a week later a thoughtful note was received from Pete that also included the recipe, he was definitely paying attention.


I love to travel. You could even say I travel like a brat. I love nice things. The thoughtfulness of the plating, the decision of which wine would best accompany what flavors, and then to have it all listed out for us to remember were just some of the thoughtful touches of this winery, B Cellars.


Did we join their wine club? Of course. I would put it up there in my top five places in the Napa area. If you are planning a trip, connect with Pete, book the wine and food pairing… you can thank me later.


It’s the little things that make a big impact. Knowing someone’s name (and using it throughout our visit), printing our name on a menu (no cost but big touch), creating an environment that felt relaxing and elegant all at the same time, having a passion for not only the wine, but also the story, the family, the grounds and the food. Pete created this experience. It only takes one person to make an impression.


In your business, who is your Pete? Who is your ambassador that makes your customers, clients, members feel like they are the most important person who has visited today.


Remember, attention pays.


If you’ve ever had a similar extraordinary experience as I did at B Cellars, I’d love to hear about it. Share it with me on social media or here on the blog!  If you’re eager to transform your own team into powerful ambassadors that create the conditions for customers to not only do repeat business with you – but leave glowing reviews such as this one, call me. Giving organizations the tools they need to make ATTENTION pay is exactly what I do.

The post Who is Your Pete? B Cellars Attention to Customers appeared first on Neen James.

Monday, August 14, 2017

7 ATTENTION Saving Strategies to Manage Email Distractions

manage email distractionsCould you accelerate daily productivity with tips to manage email distractions? According to a report by McKinsey, 28% of a person’s workday is spent checking email.  Sound familiar? That’s over one quarter of your entire business day is allocated just to manage emails. It’s a wonder any of us get anything done. Studies show that 26% of employees admit email is their number one distraction, and I believe that.


Here’s what I’d like you to remember – emails are requests from other people who want YOUR time and ATTENTION to accomplish THEIR objectives. While it is, of course, a necessary form of communication – YOU get to set the terms of how it is used, putting YOU in control of your time. Your time is far too valuable to let others determine how you spend it. So, what’s a person to do?


Here are seven of my favorite strategies to manage email distraction:

  1. Invest 15 minutes. This is something I’m passionate about. I love breaking things down into manageable bits. Manage email in 15-minute increments. Set the timer on your iPhone, play a game and answer as many as you can. Then move onto a more strategic activity.
  2. Put a limit on it. According to a University of British Columbia study, to manage email distractions means limiting your reading of email to three times per day reduces stress and distractions by 47%, boosting productivity and focus. That’s huge!
  3. Unplug from the unwanted. Millions of people use me, which is a fabulous tool that allows you to unsubscribe from email subscriptions that are filling up your inbox. If you’re not reading them, skip that distraction, save yourself valuable time and just unsubscribe.
  4. Block it out. Freedom is a cool distraction management tool that I use on my Mac and iPhone to block social media sites and email. It’s kind of the internet version of a do not disturb sign and it’s ideal for creating focused, uninterrupted time when you’re looking to increase productivity. More than 450,000 people use this app across multiple electronics.
  5. Create short cuts. Text Expander is one of my fave apps on my Mac. It is so simple. By allowing you to load short cuts for regularly used responses, words, and templates, it can save an ah-mazing amount of time. If you find that you respond to emails with similar information on a regular basis, this app might be one of your new faves as well!
  6. Bounce them back. If you use Gmail, this one might be the answer you’ve looked for. Boomerang for Gmail is a great service to manage emails by allowing you to bounce emails back to you when you want to answer them and write emails and schedule delivery for another time. Helps to keep that inbox overwhelm at bay.
  7. To-Do list it. I haven’t tried it yet, but for fans of to-do lists, the Taskforce app sounds like a solution. It lets you transform your emails into tasks and comes with an automatic filtering feature.


Being a leader in today’s world means challenging the way you work, communicate, interact, and manage your time and talent. When you recognize how very valuable your hours are, you start to get protective of them. Fortunately, there are brilliant people out there creating new dynamic tools every day that can help us effectively streamline our workdays, so that we reclaim that mismanaged time and invest it making memorable moments by paying ATTENTION to the important people in our lives.  When you do? You will have more impact and influence at work, at home, and in your community. That’s a win-win-win for everyone!


If your emails have merely become a means in which to communicate to others, it’s time to make them a way you can genuinely connect. When your emails are elevated to be more personal, personable, connected and sincere, others will not only want to read them, they’ll enjoy doing so.


I’d love to hear your thoughts or learn what tools YOU use to keep email distraction to a minimum. Share them with me on social media or here on the blog. If you would like to learn more strategies for helping YOUR team become more productive, profitable, and collaborative, check out my book Folding Time, or contact me today to bring my much-requested Folding Time keynote to your organization and learn how to achieve twice as much in half the time!


The post 7 ATTENTION Saving Strategies to Manage Email Distractions appeared first on Neen James.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Creating a ‘Library Hotel Experience’ – The Difference is the ATTENTION to DETAILS

I love to travel. That’s not a secret. I also like to travel like a brat. Also, not a secret.


Recently I surprised one of my dearest friends Lesley with a trip to New York City. She’s a professor at Elon University and previously taught students to read. Her love of books made it easy for me to choose the hotel, the stunning Library Hotel.


If you haven’t ever heard of it, click here.  Located in midtown New York, The Library Hotel is in a prime spot! Just a 10-minute walk from Times Square and Broadway, and one block from Grand Central Station. With more than 6,000 books in their collection and each of the 10 floors themed after one of the designations of the Dewey Decimal System – it’s a book lover’s dream.  We stayed in 1206, the mythology room with a gorgeous view of the NYC Public Library. The second-floor guests are provided with snacks all day and a lovely breakfast each morning which was a treat. The rooftop bar was the perfect way to end a day with cocktails and a fabulous fun and funky buzz.


From the moment we made the reservation online until we checked out, this hotel did an exceptional job of paying attention online and in person.


Their online registration is easy and allows guests to share special occasions or add-ons they’d like in the room on arrival. So, of course, I added a few nice touches to our stay.


When you arrive (even if the room isn’t ready), they instantly make you feel at home, using names, opening doors, and offering guests an opportunity to get ‘refreshed’ in their special area on the second floor. This was absolutely one of my favorite spaces in the hotel with constant snacks, great coffee, delish breakfast, and afternoon cocktails.


As we arrived early, we took advantage of refreshments, a quick outfit change, stored our luggage, and then off for some fabulous shopping in SoHo, and lunch at my favorite NYC restaurant, Balthazar.


When we got back to check in and head up to our room, I was SUPER impressed… they had birthday card and gift for Lesley, a bottle of my favorite champagne (they must have been on my Instagram account) and then, wait for it… a note and a BOOK from Balthazar! The note and gift blew me away. I am hard to impress. Just so you know. But that was fantastic! 


This simple act of seeing my social media post, writing a note, sharing a book from a local place is the level of detail that has guests returning over and over again! Did I tweet about it? You bet I did! Did I post on Instagram? Of course! Would I highly recommend them? To everyone? Absolutely!


As a keynote speaker who specializing on helping people pay ATTENTION – and the value that attention can bring – to their businesses and lives — I travel the world sharing stories of how to be more intentional with our attention. I truly believe we need to give attention to get attention.


What can you do in your business to make your clients, customers, members, or patients feel like we did during our Library Hotel experience?


Use names – whenever possible, use people’s names. Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is the sweetest sound”. This attention-grabbing technique costs nothing, but the return is incredible!


Leverage social media – invest a few minutes and notice what your clients are saying and doing online. Can you do something to personalize their experience that will allow them to KNOW you paid attention? That doesn’t have to cost you anything except a few minutes to write a note.


Handwritten notes – I am a huge fan of this old-fashioned technique. In a digital world, it is analogue systems that get attention. Can you write a note to thank someone for their business? Write a thank you note to a team member for a job well done? Write a note to a patient and wish them a speedy recover?


Make it special – it was Lesley’s birthday. They knew it when I checked in and made sure to make it a memorable. What systems can you create to systemize thoughtfulness? Notes in your system? Post-it notes on a file? Fields in a database?


Here’s what I know… Because of the remarkable and thoughtful way the staff at the Library Hotel paid ATTENTION to me and my dear friend, I will most definitely return for another stay. I will share this story in my new book Attention Pays™. I will speak of this experience in keynotes around the world and I will be forever delighted by this fantastic experience.


What can you do to create a Library Hotel experience within your organization today? Attention pays. It really does. Want to learn more about getting YOUR team to deliver in memorable ways just as the staff at the Library Hotel does? Contact me today. I’ve got the answers you need!


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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Impactful Sales with Exactly What to Say

impactful sales exactly what to sayWhen it’s your job to create impactful sales moments, serve customers and lead the teams that do, you’ll want to invest less than 60 minutes to read this book and gain thousands of hours of more influential conversations, Read Exactly What to Say by Phil Jones.  I promise it will take you less than an hour and yet you will refer to his examples and ideas constantly.


If you want people to pay attention to your conversations, close more sales, accelerate your customer experiences and achieve results that matter, this is the book to add to your reading list. Don’t’ just read it, buy a copy for your team and help them create more impactful sales moments and accelerate their leadership skills too. If you are in sales or leadership I highly recommend you invest in this book, full of wisdom and ideas.


Phil has distilled the most important concepts and phrases and made it easy for you so you can focus concentrated time and get the most benefit from the concepts presented. Exactly what to say is a brilliantly written, easy to read, easy to implement book that I will be recommending to all my clients.


Pay attention to your words because they can change the lives of the people you serve.



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