Categories
Blog Life

Make the ‘Good-er’ Choice

I dont know what challenges you will face today, or what decisions you will have to make, and I’m not going to tell you if your choice is right or wrong.

I can encourage you to keep choosing the good.

But, if that brings some kind of remorse or shame or pressure to make sure you’re making the right choices, then let me break it down for you a little better:

Just choose the good-er one.

As you pick between

  • Two potential new jobs
  • A job versus caring for a member of your family
  • Or for caring yourself (for a change)
  • Saying no to the busy work you always get left with
  • Or to stop pretending you’ll make time for that relationship when things settle down (spoiler: they won’t)
  • And every other choice you make in a day

Choose the one that feels even 1% good-er than the other one, and you will be alright in the end.

Because that 1% more of the good things you choose builds and builds over your life, leaving you the result of a good, rich life, over time.

Side note: Turns out that good-er is usually not the one with the most money involved, at least at the outset.

  • That relationship you finally made space for
  • That mental peace and emotional resilience you developed through meditation, exercise, and/or working through past trauma
  • That ability you finally developed to say No to things that made you look one way but feel another

All these good choices have a compounding effect.

A goodness about you that will pay its own dividends in peace, good work, centeredness, full love, and better alignment of your reality and your expectations.

And, instead of searching for riches, you will find richness—in your heart, your life, faith and work.

That, my friend, is a good, good life.

Categories
Blog Lifehacks Process Improvement Tools and Apps

Missive, How I ❤️ Thee…

This is a love letter.

A love letter to email.

Well, not exactly to email, because you, email, are a necessary evil.

This, is about my email application.

No.

My — unified messaging and communications operating system.

Missive App.

(Disclaimer: No, missive pays me nothing for this. They don’t even have an affiliate program. In fact, I pay them a fairly solid monthly subscription for my growing recruiting team. I will gladly keep paying. And, enjoying the hair I did not pull out of my own head over using plain old email tools)

Story Time

Its about 23 minutes into the zoom meeting and, the other person says, “give me a moment, that’s in my other email account…

“… ugh, I got logged out.

“OK! Sent it.

“Dang. I sent it from the wrong address. That’s not going to work.

:angry email noises:

…”

via GIPHY

Meanwhile… the hopefully polite look on my face while I witness this belies the eye twitching that is happening under the surface. Not only could this meeting have likely been an email, 80% of this meeting ended up being about email issues:

  • Not finding the mail
  • Mail in the wrong place
  • Did you get the email?
  • Did they send the email?
  • Not being cc’d on the email or otherwise not knowing the content of said email
  • Getting forwarded the email last-minute and now having to page through mind-numbingly confusing forwards to find the part of the email that matters for this meeting,
  • …all from your phone because your laptop is presenting.
  • Needing to email someone and ask a specific, detailed question
  • Emailing the person again asking them to quickly reply as we’re trying to make a decision
  • Clarifying the question we asked, since, thanks to brevity, we assumed they knew all the context of what was being asked and were forced to reply with “It depends…”
  • and so on
  • and so forth

Email issues that could have been solved if communication, not email, were the priority. ?

If I Haven’t Told You Missive Is Better Than Your Email App, Either We Haven’t Talked, or I am Being Nice

The other half of this story is that people who work with me know that, at this point in the meeting, if I have not yet brought up Missive, the email app I have been leveraging for at least three years now, it is because of an immense amount of personal strength to keep. my. mouth. shut.

Why?

Missive is like my right-hand, time-saving, boss-level communications master control center.

Missive is like my own mind, but with a better memory, and with emoji support. ?

I can’t stress enough all the ways that Missive helps me, my personal life, my family and my team through a week and, in building ConnectedWell from a literal company-of-one to a growing team with expanding partnerships and opportunities, Missive has been my most-trusted ally, by my side in that awesome, scalable, helpful-but-not-clingy kind of way we all seek from our email applications, but, sadly, most never find.

OK, Hot Shot. Why is Missive So good?

Here is a list of things my email program does effortlessly that yours doesn’t. Neener, neener.

  • Works effortlessly across any device I have, via app or browser, with zero functionality loss on mobile. Truly a mobile-first application.
  • One Login. I login with my account once and it remembers all my other accounts, gmail, gsuite, exchange, outlook, or whatever other email server you use.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. The gmail ones. Or, use your own
  • SWIPE multiple emails at once. Delete, Archive or Snooze all these junk emails at once and then, boom, inbox zero #FTW.
  • Also remembers all my inbound/outbound signatures, forwarding rules and other tweaks for each account.
  • Good search across all accounts or separate ones
  • Email templates for you or shared
  • SNOOOOOOOoooooze emails for working with later
  • You can even snooze email from the alerts that pop up on your computer or device.
  • Send emails later, as well (so you look like you were (or were not) up at 1:30am)
  • Snooze emails to come back to you after you sent them (so you can follow up). Choose to snooze only if the other person does not reply.
  • UNDO send, too, so you don’t look like this guy when you accidentally reply-to-all (see below, or here: youtube). This one is YUGE.
  • Rules and filters that make gmail rules, uh, not rule and make outlook’s rules feel like 1990s tv sitcom dramas. Cute, but really not that entertaining any more.
    • My personal favorite use of the email rules? I have a set of filters and rules that keep all email OUT of my inbox except for a few very specific times of the day (a la Tim Ferris style) so I can actually get work done.

What Happens When You Reply All

Here are some of the superpowers Missive gives my team and me:

Missive’s integrations beef up my
email superpowers ??
  • Inline email collaboration and editing (and inline sidebar chat) like a Google Doc, but in. email.
    • Let that last one sink in a little
  • Assign people and tasks to an email or just FYI them. Do not forward the email. Just @mention them in the sidebar and they have access. Boom. Instantly, to the whole thread in their screen, along with all chat messaged about it, in chronological order, as if they were the one who got the initial message.
  • Real team shared inboxes, both a general box like “[email protected]” where everyone gets a copy of messages, or a way to let everyone see the status, and replies of all other messages — so nothing slips through the cracks (and a great way to share know-how and best practices among team members)
  • Send on behalf of the team or as an individual, either all the time or just ad-hoc. For example, you could can ask me for help on an email, we collaborate on it, and then you can send the email AS ME, using my own email credentials, right from your own email app, and zeeeeero tech support or password sharing required.
  • Don’t forward an email to yourself or your trellor board or something. Send them (or your task list/trello board) an actual URL LINK to an exact email so you can click once and go right back into the content you need.
  • Ready to power up? Seamless integrations with apps you’re already using. I use their trello, todoist, pipedrive and other integrations every hour of the day.
  • Social integrations let me manage facebook, instagram and other social messages from my email app. Yeah. That easy.
  • Missive’s powerful Twillio integration powers the chat “bot” telegram like feature on this site (lower right corner), dropping site-based chats into the [email protected] team inbox as if they are emails. Try it.
  • I could also use Twillio to send SMS messages, too, fwiw.
  • Missive is actively being developed with a very responsive team (I’ve chatted with Etienne, Phillipe and Rafael frequently). Their Canny feature requests, get this, actually turn into product releases. They ship multiple times a month.

I will come back to this and add more, but for now, this is a pretty good list of reasons you should check out Missive.

Again, missive doesn’t pay me, but I gladly pay them. It’s a good app. And, for something you use 38 hours a day, you should treat yourself better than the way you’re being treated.

I’m just sayin.

Of course, how you choose to email is none of my business.

Would you like to reply?

Categories
Blog

How to Know if a Decision is Good

I can’t tell you if a decision is right, but I can give you a simple measuring stick to know if a decision is good.

But first, a little background…

In life, in work, in our careers, in our communities, we are faced with countless possibilities of ways to spend our days, our nights, our love, our effort, our money, our time and more.

In our busy, modern, app-driven & time-crunched lives (and quarantine seems to have only made it worse over time) the challenges of dealing with both information overload and the resultant FOMO, the fear of missing out, if you should choose the wrong thing are a constant struggle.

Why is Decision Making so Hard?

Primarily, “one of the big reasons we all hesitate to make decisions is FEAR.” says Lynn Leigh Neild. This is definitely the case when making a decision seems to be between too many good options:

  • What if I pick the wrong one?
  • What if the other choice is better?
  • What if I don’t know enough information?

The gridlock of these conflicting influences often leads to analysis paralysis, or worse, feelings of anxiety that can spiral out of control, if unchecked.

What is Anxiety?

“Anxiety is caused by an over-reaction of the human fight-or-flight response.” explains Manuel Krause, a mindfulness and anxiety expert (MS Applied Psychology) and founder of Pocketcoach, a cool-looking chatbot* that can help you manage anxiety.

“This innate reaction has developed over more than hundred thousand years of evolution in order to protect us from danger. It’s a biological process that kicks in whenever the brain detects something dangerous.”

How Can You Overcome Mild Anxiousness?

Combating the anxiousness that can come from indecision is hard. Breathing can help (here’s why), and managing deep anxiety from a psychological level is beyond the scope of this writing, but for those who feel bodily tension, perhaps in your shoulders, around the eyes or other places in your body when it’s time to make a decision, a few things may be able to help:

Move & Breathe to Help Anxiety Move, Too

It could be thought of that anxiousness is emotion taking place in you, or having a physical effect on you. It has been said that “emotions need motion”. When you are feeling anxiousness, it is often helpful to move around to help the anxiety move along.

Further, breathing, walking or even just standing and stretching can help your body regain some regulation over these feelings.

Tips:

  • Got an apple watch? Use the Breathe app to grab some quick mindful moments.
  • My.Life (formerly Breathe) provides quick as well as deeper mindfulness tools for android and apple devices as well as Alexa.
  • Put your walking shoes on and take a brisk walk around the block or building (or house). Count your steps and think about how the ground feels under your feet with each step to bring yourself to a present state of mind.

For deeper resolution to anxiousness, I have used headspace to help me regain a feeling of centeredness and calm.

How Do You Combat FOMO?

FOMO, the fear of missing out, is increasingly common in our social-media driven society. The constant barrage of how great other people’s lives create an intensive mental challenge that is not easy to overcome, and can lead to even more decision-making gridlock.

When it comes to the fear of missing out on something, William Bednarz notes in The Conversationalist that “What you DON’T want to do is let the FOMO get the best of you and allow it to consume your mind. If you keep thinking about what you’re missing out on, it will manifest itself in your mind and dominate your thoughts to where it seems much more than it actually is.”

Some research reported by Psychology Today notes some surprising effects of FOMO relative to social media use in that, people who experienced FOMO experienced the same amount of it, no matter if they learned of the missed activity online or in person, and even if the thing they chose to do instead was fun:

In the research, “FOMO was a commonly reported feeling, which created negative emotions and feelings of distraction. Adding to this, the results showed that FOMO was felt no matter how the person found out about the alternate social activity on which they were missing out. Hearing it from a friend versus social media produced the same amount of FOMO. And finally, it was also felt even when the selected activity was an enjoyable (social) one.” #

Psychology Today, The Science of FOMO and What We’re Really Missing Out On

In light of this, it’s important to note that experiencing FOMO after you have made a decision is almost guaranteed. And experiencing FOMO is not an indicator that the decision you made was the wrong one, because you are likely to feel it anyway.

How Do I Know if a Decision is Good?

Okay, so, how do I know when a decision is a good decision? This simple measuring stick will help you, or at least give you confidence it is not a bad decision.

A good decision will impel you to be intentionally willing to turn down other choices that you also see are good.

In economics, this would be called opportunity cost, and is a real measuring stick that economists use to help understand human behavior:

“…Opportunity cost, also known as alternative cost, of making a particular choice is the value of the most valuable choice out of those that were not taken,” explains Abhishek Kothari in The Opportunity Cost of Everything. “In simple terms, when you chose to do something, you give up something.”

In practice, you can be confident a good decision is good, if the alternatives you must give up are also good.

  • Choosing between two excellent job offers.
  • Hiring one of two excellent candidates.
  • Choosing to move to a new home or stay in a home you love.
  • Deciding which great university to attend.
  • Picking an AirBnb by the beach or one in the mountains.
  • Choosing between two cars with a great payments and top safety ratings.

Why this works

This works for three deceptively simple reasons:

  1. The downside is almost nonexistent.
    Reality is, if you are choosing between attending two great university choices, the downside for you becomes vanishingly small. Really, what’s the worst that could happen? That lit class will bore you to death no matter which campus you are on (or which zoom room you are in)
  2. The upside is huge.
    Jim Rohn used to say “Indecision is the thief of opportunity.” and it seems the second you decide something, the universe aligns to help you make it happen.
  3. Choosing something creates momentum.
    And momentum makes any task easier. Objects in motion, of course, tend to stay in motion

Still Stuck? Try ‘Ooching’.

If you stilllllllll just can’t make that choice, then you might try “ooching”. It means taking incrementally, but intentional steps toward the thing you’re trying to do to see where things lead.

Ooching “allows you to experiment with a decision while minimizing the risk, which can be helpful with choices large and small,” according to Kristin Wong at Forge, referencing the book Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath (Amazon).

Wong continues with some examples: “If you’re thinking of moving to a new city, for example, maybe first you ask permission to work remotely for a month in that city. If you’re thinking of buying a new car but unsure if you can make the monthly payments, set aside a couple hundred bucks each month in a separate savings account to see if you can swing it.” #

*Disclosures:
– I have never used Pocketcoach, but it looks appealing.

Categories
Blog

Productivity Hack for Freelancers: Multiple Chrome Profiles, FTW

Google Chrome is a popular web browser. Beside the powerful extensions, speed and other benefits, Chrome is really the way to go for a simple, fast web browser on your computer.

If you are a freelancer or independent contractor, or even more importantly, a solopreneur or working a side-hustle, your time is, literally, money, and the most-precious asset you have.

Often, a lot of it gets “sucked up” in the mental problem of logging into this account or that, either your personal, your work, your side-gig or your client’s accounts.

How Multiple Profiles Helps

Setting up multiple user profiles in Chrome helps you avoid this issue all while keeping passwords in sync, data from being colluded between accounts*

I tell people this tip a lot and they roll their eyes just a little at me, because, I know, “How hard is it really to manage switching from one Google Account to another?”

Well, it’s not. By itself.

But, if you’re like me, it gets a little hairy when you have 3 to 5 different client accounts you’re managing all at the same time, and they ALL use the same systems, such as G-Suite, Google Docs, and in my recruiting world, Lever, SmartRecruiters or Greenhouse to boot. Fun fun.

Don’t forget how awkward it is when you’re sharing your screen on a zoom call and the link you click drops you into your other client’s account for everyone to see. They might not say anything, but it IS awkward. Believe me.

Oh, you’re also working for them, huh?

Look, whatever s0-called loyalty is these days, the last thing you need is Bob in finance bringing your name up when budget discussions come around and the CFO is looking to trim some fat, “Well, we know they’re double-dipping on us with ACME corp… I think it’s safe for us to cut this contract.”

Personally, I’d rather save the headache, embarrassment, and time of trying to keep all your swimlanes clear when you’re going from client to client.

How Multiple Profiles Work

You could think of multiple profiles in Chrome like being able to login to your computer with multiple accounts, but see them all on the same screen. See this primer from PC World about Chrome Profiles, if you like.

Windows, Tabs, Profiles, Oh My!

You are already familiar with browser windows. Yeah, that thing with 300 tabs you have sitting there in your face all day long. You can open multiple browser windows, too, which you might already do to separate tasks from each other.

Adding profiles to this this takes additional browser windows-usage up a notch as you can separate client work, or personal browsing (banking, for example) from your work profiles.

Each Chrome browser window is tied to a Profile by default. That Profile can be tied to a Google Account, if you like, with some benefits such as cloud synchronized password storage, cookie and search history and more. If you haven’t done anything with profiles, you probably have just one profile on your user account, and if you use GMail, it’s probably tied to your Gmail account already.

This means you’re 90% there already.

In the upper right corner of Chrome, next to all your Chrome Extension add ons, you might see a little user icon or your own picture (if you’ve connected to a Google Account)

My user icon to the right of this bar of Chrome Extensions tells me in a glance which “profile” I am in right now. This icon is for my professional ConnectedWell account.

Tapping this little icon allows you to open other Chrome profile windows OR add a new one (down at the bottom).

I assign different
Chrome profiles
different user icons
so I can tell them apart

When I add a new profile, I will link it to a google account and give it a unique icon or user avatar image so I can quickly pop up off the page and see which account I am in. I have one for personal and one for work, and one for each client sandbox I want to have (where I have access to their internal systems).

I have had up to six active profiles going at a time. It really helps streamline things!

Pro-Tips and Errata

A few side benefits to this behavior:

Delete old client profiles in moments, not days

Beside parsing away all your client work from your other clients or personal work, you can easily blow away an account and delete everything when your relationship with that client is over. All good things come to an end. I promise, ripping off the bandaid is better.

Delete the profile and you can safely know you won’t accidentally violate any privacy agreements or trip any alarms if your browser tries to log you into something in the background.

Keep your bookmarks (and browsing history) separate

Look, you don’t have to go far online to see examples of, ahem, interesting things that popped up in someone’s google search bar when they were trying to search for something while presenting to a room (or a recorded video conference).

If you don’t want to have to defend that your daughter is the one who watches My Little Pony fan videos, not you, just use another browser profile for your, uh, your daughter’s web surfing interests.

Other smart people think this is a good idea, too:

Questions? Ask away.

*Not sure if this could really happen, but in the age of GDPR, keeping my accounts (or more important, my client’s accounts) in separate sandboxed Chrome instances makes me sleep better, anyway. The extra layer of separation seems like it’s only a good idea.

Categories
Blog Entrepreneurship My Favorite Things Process Improvement

Gusto Makes Paying Payroll & Contractors Magical

I have used Gusto* twice now to run my payroll in my business ventures and, in the 8 clicks or so that it took to pay my contractors and employees today, I thought I should write about it. Partly because, for some strange reason, I avoided using them during my current venture even though I loved them before. Looking back, I put myself through a lot of pain this go-round. Don’t do that to yourself. #learnFromMyMistakes

Managing payroll and compliance with Gusto makes my small business or solopreneur venture even more awesome. Key benefit for me? Paying contractors any amount with direct deposit with no extra fees or transaction charges. ? ⬇️ Finally, I can stop using Venmo!

Gusto definetly goes on my list of how to run a business smarter, not harder. Three years (and $20k in tax issues later), cough up the comparative pocket change to do this right.

The OLD WAY of paying contractors for me included trying to find their venmo account, ignore how many times they bought tacos last week (really?) negotiate on if they wanted payment from Cash App instead or maybe paypal… and then haggle over who paid the transaction fees. This worked “great” until I had enough business I bumped up against my venmo transaction limits, and my people will attest that the waiting around for payments SUCKED. I had two contractors getting paid by venmo, one on Cash app, a bunch I had to hoodwink into reactivating their PayPal accounts (and I coughed down the fees most of the time). P.S None of this included the accounting gymnastics I got to do monthly when I had to parse out which payments went to whom and for what work

The cost of using Gusto to pay yourself + 9 employees is the equivalent of 58cents an hour. If your billing rate can’t choke that down, I seriously recommend you find a regular job ?.

If you are going out (or already out) on your own or taking on a side hustle, or partnering with some colleagues at a joint-venture, it’s alluring to run everything on your own and go lean, but after three years of trying and making mistakes at this, I am learning to automate the things computers can do so I can do the things I do best — which is recruit and lead and support my team.

Things Gusto does very well (the top three were enough for me to stop kicking myself and sign up)

  • Manages payroll for W-2 employees seamlessly.
  • Send payments to 1099 Contractors direct deposit, and for no extra fees.
  • Run as many payroll or expense reimbursement runs per month as you like, for no extra fees.
  • Ability for your employees to get “instant” paychecks if they like or are short on cash (no cost to you).
  • Ridiculously quick and friendly support.
  • Awesome, simple user interface.
  • Access to benefits and other nifty features such as charitable contributions, 401k, 529 accounts, life insurance and more.
  • Helps you process 1099s and W-2 statements at the end of the year.
  • Know before you submit payroll exactly how much will come from your accounts and when.
  • Automatically handles state and federal tax requirements, sending the right tax amounts to the right withholding accounts so you can rest easy knowing the tax man cometh, but not with a scythe. They even got my account numbers for me. I did zero paperwork.
  • Onboard and offboard employees, even sending offer letters!
  • Sync magically with all accounting packages.
  • Causes your accountants to regularly break out into song.

Plus, they’re giving you $100 Amazon gift card to try it just for signing up at my recommendation (after you run payroll). I mean, I would recommend it anyway, but, if they’re going to front you a hundred bucks, that’s 2.5 months worth of their fee if you (yourself or others) are a W-2 employee. That’s 4 months free if you have no W-2 employees and 4 contractors (16 months free if you have just one contractor).

Full disclosure, I also get $100 if you try this. I’d recommend it anyway, so, if you feel strange about that just go to gusto.com yourself and sign up, or ask your accountant to refer you if you want to keep the cash “in the family”, so to speak.

Either way, I ran payroll and paid my contractors and ticked off a bunch of tired old tax-compliance boxes using Gusto this morning in way less time than it took to write this.

Or, keep doing payroll the hard way.

Gusto is part of my accounting stack for small businesses, which includes:

Tell ’em I sent ya ?

*This is a referral link. If you go here and buy stuff, I may or may not get a small something in return. It might be money or a gift-card or a discount on my service. It’s usually not much. And, I am a paying customer of all these services, so its really just soda money in the end. I am not living off this, lol. If this makes you feel strange, feel free to run over to that website all by yourself or ask someone else to refer you. No problem. But if you feel like my advice helped you, clicking this link is one way to say thanks. I mean, that or five pound box of $50 bills would work, too… but clicking the link is easier. #justsayin