Why Communication Is Key

Several months ago I read a column by life coach Mel Robbins in Success Magazine that made me both smile with self-righteousness and rankle with guilt. In the article, Mel recounts a personal story of a relative standing her – and her very excited child – up for a playdate without calling to let them know, “Hey, don’t wait around for me any longer.”  Around the time of reading, I was marinating in a similar, “You-could-have-just-let-me-know-something” angst, having been left hanging several times recently by a friend and colleague when I was in need of support. Continue Reading »

Last week on Working Knowledge Radio we discussed Smart Uses for Smart Phones.  Just in case you’re in the mood this holiday to upgrade the functionality of your cell phone or purchase one for the first time, here are some expert tips of multiple uses of cell phones that can increase your productivity or at least make your life easier.


  1. Quickoffice Pro: Gives you access to Microsoft Excel, Word, Powerpoint and pdf. Check the application store on pda’s like Blackberries, Androids and iPhones for specific functionality such as creating, editing, viewing various documents on the go.
  2. Evernote – Is a note-taking and organizing system that syncs your thoughts to and from an online server. Helpful because you can then access those thoughts on the go using your Blackberry, iPhone or even laptop Mac or traditional PC.
  3. Audible (for paid audio books) and Overdrive Media console app (for free library rental audio books) lets you listen maximize downtime.  Listen to professional and personal development content at your convenience on your iPhones or Blackberry.
  4. Page Once – keep track of all your financial balances, pay bills and get bill payment reminders right on your phone. Gets lots of great reviews.
  5. Intuit’s Go Payment – A credit card terminal – lets you swipe and process credit card payments right on your phone or iPad. Very helpful if you’re a merchant on the go. Call to set up an account and get an card swipe adapter that fits into your devices earphone jack.
  6. Go International – Keep in touch with your international friends for less – Use Blackberry messenger – messaging between Blackberries at no extra cost  – just your Blackberry data plan. Skype  is another international communication tool that can be accessed from compatible phones. The Skype application allows you to call skype-to-skype with your cell phone rather than a bulky pc and headset. The app may allow you to use your free skype minutes or your reduced rate skype-to-skype minutes plan. Check your plan for details.
  7. Drop box – Create docs or notes on your cell phone and have them uploaded to the internet cloud where they’ll be accessible from your internet-connected desktop or laptop pc. Never worry that you don’t have access to important documents when you need to edit them on the fly.
  8. Social Networking – Keeping in touch is easy with the mobile versions of the most common social networking platforms. There are limits to functionality, so you’ll still have to log in to the regular, full internet browser supported platform sometimes. But  for Twitter, Linked In and Facebook, you can do many interactions on the go.
  9. Google Maps – Available on most Blackberries, iPhones, iPads, and Androids – Blackberry Maps is a great way to ensure you can find your way to and from unfamiliar locations. I used it a few years ago and wasn’t very impressed, but in last few months I’ve started using it regularly. It’s really improved. If I open the app, hit menu, get directions – the  phone gives me options, but automatically puts the “start” as my location and for “end.” I simply click the “use center of map” area and can then either find a store by name or type in its address. Then with a simple pressing of menu > search – Google Maps gives list of each step to get there. The directions are similar to Mapquest and Google’s online version, plus a map. A few weeks ago I had a craving for Luby’s chicken fried chicken, but I was in an unfamiliar part of town, so I used the map and found the nearest Luby’s was only half a mile away! Talk about a tasteful use of technology!
  10. Youtube – Learn how to do something on the fly – change a flat tire or jump a car (if you’re stranded) or create a mail merge in Microsoft Word. The learning is endless.
  11. Livestrong: This app is the fun, easy way to keep a food diary. It searches for the calorie and nutritional count for you.
  12. Memo pad or Voice Notes – Though they may be called different things depending on your device,  there are just as many uses for both. They are typically free, a standard feature on even non-pda cells phones. You simply speak or type what you want to remember later, such as:
    1. Where you parked
    2. What you need to buy at the store
    3. Inspirational quotes – really nice to hear your own voice speaking positive affirmations over your life
    4. If you’re a songwriter – you can write out lyrics or hum beats and melodies into your voice notes – I used to use voicemail for this but the voice mail would interrupt me
    5. Frequently texted phrases – make use of easy copy/paste for text or email messages you need to communicate often
  13. Games – Keep kids entertained during road trips or while in office visit waiting rooms.


  1. Camera
    1. Accuracy checking tool – Take pix of clothes before dropping off to dry cleaners – I used to just  count them
    2. Price matching tool – Lowe’s rolling cart 0 the price difference was like $20 – exact same cart (some places want a physical ad to put in their register but if not) very handy
    3. Price checking tool – I cant believe this price – one the shelf and of the UPC close up
    4. Price comparison tool – simply checking similar dept stores while shopping or amazon if you can wait, to see if getting the item now is a better deal for you than waiting and possibly paying shipping fees
    5. Grocery errands – especially if you’re sending someone else to buy. My grandma used to give very sketchy descriptions of shopping list items but was a force to be reckoned with if you brought things back wrong – seeing a picture helps. And sometimes for myself it’s quicker to snap a picture than to write down on a list. Plus lists can be forgotten. Most everyone always remembers their cell phones.
  2. Calculator
    1. Splitting meals are restaurants – tallying bills
    2. Tip calculator
    3. Figuring net price during store % off sales when not on display – use tip calculator and adjust the % rate or if can’t , use the regular calculator and multiply the % of 100 remaining (after discount) X’s original price to come up with sale price. Like 30% off, means I’ll pay 70% of retail. So I multiply .70 x original price to come up with sale price. Ok, maybe too many steps for you but it works for me!
  3. Alarm clock
    1. Take 20-25 minutes refresher naps during day
    2. Time tasks – Set up a task end time to  prevent project time bleeding over into other dedicated time. Helpful if you don’t want to create calendar alerts
  4. Calendar/tasks – Organize your life. These tools great for creating recurring tasks, appointments or to-do’s – like change contact lens every 2 weeks or air filter every month. Get a facial.
  5. Flashlight – Use the bright screen to find your keys. Some smartphones even come with or can download an actual “flashlight” app for an even brighter searchlight.

I hope this tips gave you some ideas on how to get more from your pocket  productivity tool we call a cell phone.

I admit it. I’ve had days – even weeks – where papers in my home office piled up. And yes, there were more than a few saucers in the sink. Life gets busy. But when honest, I can remember that the days-long epochs of chaos usually began with one or two incidents Continue Reading »

Several months ago I subscribed to Netflix as one of the apps on my iPad. Since it’s so portable, I can take it with me to do a number of things around the house and elsewhere like sorting laundry/mail or enjoying lunch while I catch up on movies and past TV programs I have not yet seen. I watched several reality TV shows just for an update on what’s going on in other parts of society. It appears a great number of people are currently in the throes of a cultural obsession with being “bad.” As someone once said, “With some people, the means justify the ends; with others the end justifies the meanness.”

We see it in others, but we can’t believe it. Still, we love it. We are drawn to it. Secretly, we want to be bold and bully just like the characters we see acting out. It’s freeing … or is it? When we as a civilization burn people and bridges as if they are of no consequence, we become imprisoned by the feelings of bitterness, isolation and self-judgment that often follow being “bad.” This post hopes to help you resist the craving to be callous – for your own good.

Continue Reading »

Why Manners Matter

Our recent Working Knowledge Radio episode entitled, “No, Excuse You!” brought to the forefront quite a few concerns we all have or should have with how we are interacting with each other these days. In our fast paced society, people feel further and further apart emotionally due to all the convenient barrier-creating technologies like texting, phoning, email, voicemail and chat that allow people to “talk at” other people & run away from the feedback.  Television and radio shows present “reality shows” that put the expression of anger and bad behavior on a pedestal – worthy of exultation & broadcast. And finally, we limit our lives to only being around people who agree with our behavior in times of controversy. Personal interactions only with people who think like us can perpetuate a tendency to value one’s own moods and needs most – without considering the needs of others for more than a fleeting second. As a result, we’ll excuse ourselves for our bad behavior towards others – not good for us in life, but especially bad for us at work. That’s where rudeness matters in our career. It can open doors but building relationships or close doors by destroying it. Let’s find out more about manners that matter. Continue Reading »

In these uncertain economic times, it is very tempting to cling to the familiar and safe. Especially when it comes to employment. Some of us dream about having a greater impact in the marketplace through independent endeavors, yet we cling to our steady grind hoping to somehow transform it into a stepping stone to fulfillment. But what do we do when the reality sets in that our stepping stone is slowly becoming our path?   Continue Reading »

SECURE YOUR SUCCESS … Dare to Invest  – In Others

A former Fortune 500 executive, turned Bishop Ben Gibert, frequently says in his sermons, what you do for another man, God will do for you as he encourages parishioners to donate money to buy houses and cars for the needy even though they may not be wealthy themselves. He then shares testimonies of supernatural breakthroughs in the finances and careers of givers who were previously down on their luck. This more spiritual take on the law of reciprocity may seem incredible, but it’s very, very true. When you give, it’s given back to you. Investing in others is very important to anyone’s success.

Continue Reading »

This is a story quite literally about baby steps. Recently, as I was leaving a large church service on the way to the parking lot, I walked up on the littlest of girls in a hot pink jacket, pastel pink summer dress and some new white walking shoes. She was so adorable – maybe only 2 feet tall and a year old if that. It surprised me that this tiniest of beings was not only standing all by herself, but she was walking on the same tough concrete as I was. I so admired how determined she was to walk on her own. How fearless she was to keep steady even in a throng of fast moving adults. Even though she was competing for sidewalk space with much more experienced “competition, she kept going.” Continue Reading »

Let’s face it, every one of us adults made it to the age we are by way of the rocky dirt road called “The Teenage Years.” For all but a rare few of us, we changed our hair, our clothes, our friends and decided on our values during this period. As our parents can tell, but we’d be loath to admit, our personal identity change sometimes resulted in not-always-welcome new behaviors and attitudes.

Weathering periods of personal identity change can also be a concern in the workplace where, for whatever reasons, an individual develops performance or attitude changes as a result of the personal changes they are experiencing. Divorce. Marriage. Being new to parenting. Being new to management. Surviving a round of layoffs. Job duty changes. There are a number of personal transitions that can impede an individual’s workplace productivity. Is there anything that can be done? Continue Reading »

These days words are coming at us from all directions. From watching movies, t.v. and news, to reading text messages, emails and lips – never in history have so many clamored to be heard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and the temptation is to tune-in only to select messages. But, tuning others out can be a costly career mistake. Surveys have proven that one of the greatest indicators of career promise and promotability is the ability to truly listen. Let’s examine why this might be true. Continue Reading »

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