Alexander Abramson - December 2019

Your Business Matters AlexanderAbramson.com • (407) 649-7777 December 2019

History, Art, and Luck

Celebrating 35 Years of Marriage

Paris was far more laid back. Of course, we went to the Louvre, where Faith really got to indulge her passion for the classics. We saw the "Mona Lisa," the Venus de Milo, and plenty of other pieces I’m sure Faith could tell you the names of. I’m not much of an art guy myself, but I’ll admit I still had a great time. “By complete accident, we’d chosen to make the trip to Westminster Abbey on the same day Queen Elizabeth II opened Parliament.” The real highlight of Paris was the Eiffel Tower. That’s where we decided to spend our anniversary itself, which was more than worth it. The view from the top was spectacular, and the restaurant on the second level lived up to its reputation. The service was fantastic, and surprisingly un-snooty. The meal was well worth the price, too. It’s not a dining experience I’d like to have every year but definitely the perfect fit to celebrate 35 incredible years. Some people ask if there’s a secret to making a marriage last. I think the truth is you just have to take it one day at a time. It’s not like after we said “I do” we were magically bonded together forever. Love’s a choice — some days it can be an extremely easy one to make, and others not so much. Three and a

In the early ‘80s, by a stroke of dumb luck, I got a girl to go out with me by asking her about her hat. We were two Long Island kids, so I took her to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan. As we looked out on the Hudson, I never would have guessed we’d one day be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary in the restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower. But that’s exactly what Faith and I did this year. We actually managed to hit both London and Paris on this occasion — something I highly recommend. Both cities have their own very different sort of charm, but they’re only a short train ride away from each other. For an anniversary trip with a history lover and an art lover, we couldn’t have picked a better pair of destinations. The magic really started for us at Westminster Abbey. We’d gone there to see the royal tombs or, as Faith called them, “the boxes of dead kings.” But in the end, we actually got to see the activities of a living queen. By complete accident, we’d chosen to make the trip to Westminster Abbey on the same day Queen Elizabeth II opened Parliament. While we didn’t see the monarch up close, we got a good look at the Queen’s Guard who marched into Westminster. With horse- drawn carriages and plenty of pomp, it really did feel like we’d stepped back in time.

half decades leaves room for plenty of ups and downs, and making it that far requires real patience. It takes the kind of patience that lets you indulge a husband whose ideas for fun vacation outings include reading the Magna Carta, watching opening arguments in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and, yes, looking at boxes of dead kings. Thank you for an amazing trip, Faith, and an unforgettable 35 years. I guess luck’s still on my side.

–Ed

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DELEGATE TO ELEVATE

Poor delegation is the Achilles’ heel of most leaders, who often confuse being “involved” with being “essential.” To determine if you’re holding on to work you should delegate out, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) recommends asking this simple question: “If you had to take an unexpected week off work, would your initiatives and priorities advance in your absence?” If your answer is no or you aren’t sure, then you’re probably too involved. No one person should be the cog that keeps everything in motion, no matter their position in the company. Luckily, HBR has created an audit using the following six T’s to identify which tasks can be delegated. Tiny: Small tasks that stack up can undermine the flow of your work. Registering for a conference, putting it on the calendar, and booking the flight are all small tasks someone else can handle. Tedious: These tasks are straightforward but not the best use of your time. Someone else can input lists into spreadsheets or update key performance indicators for a presentation. Time-Consuming: These important, complex tasks don’t require you to do the first 80% of the work. Identify what they are, pass them to someone else, and step in for the final 20% to give approval. Teachable: Is there a task only you know how to do? If so, teach someone else to do it, and step in for the last quality check when it’s done. Terrible At: It’s okay to be bad at some things. Great leaders know when to pass tasks off to someone who is more skilled than they are. The task will get done faster and at a much higher quality. Time-Sensitive: These tasks need to get done right now but are competing with tasks of a higher priority. Just because it has to get done immediately doesn’t mean you have to be the one to do it. Sure, some tasks only you can accomplish, but these are extremely rare. As the Virgin Group founder Richard Branson warns, needlessly resisting delegation is the path to disaster. “You need to learn to delegate so that you can focus on the big picture,” Branson says. “It’s vital to the success of your business that you learn to hand off those things that you aren’t able to do well.” The Secret to Being a Great Leader

“You have the power to change your behaviors,” says Susan Fowler, “but to be successful in changing, you need an evidenced-based framework for motivation and techniques for applying it.” In her new book, “Master Your Motivation: Three Scientific Truths for Achieving Your Goals,” Fowler synthesizes her decades of research into a guide that provides such a framework. In the process, she overturns countless widely held myths about what motivates us. Fowler believes the traditional carrot-and-stick approach to motivation (a combination of reward and punishment to induce a desired behavior) results from our perception of motivation as being either intrinsic or extrinsic. “Simplifying motivations into two types presents a conundrum when you aren’t intrinsically motivated,” she writes. “Your only fallback position is extrinsic motivation.” In other words, just by thinking about motivation as intrinsic versus extrinsic, you’ve already set yourself up to fail. To really motivate yourself and others, she argues, you need to think about motivation in different terms. Thankfully for the reader, Fowler defines an alternative framework for motivation. In what amounts to the book’s thesis, she states, “To master your motivation, create choice, connection, and competence.” When you measure motivation across these three factors, which are the result of rigorous academic research rather than folksy conventional wisdom, you unlock the power of motivation. It’s not hard to see how Fowler’s framework is much more actionable than traditional motivational techniques. Creating intrinsic motivation, especially for others, is a mug’s game, but defining choice, connection, and competence is much less ambiguous. If you have team members who you feel lack motivation, ask yourself if their jobs have these three essential traits. Do they have agency (choice) in their work? Do they generate meaning (connection) from what they do? Do they get a sense of accomplishment (competence) from doing something well? If you can’t answer all three of these in the affirmative, you can create a plan for increasing motivation that doesn’t involve empty metrics or meaningless rewards. If you or your team could use a proverbial kick in the pants, the solution might be to ignore those proverbs entirely. “Master Your Motivation” takes a refreshing look at what makes us strive for more. It’s a great addition to any leadership library. A Science-Based Approach to Achieving More SUSAN FOWLER’S ‘MASTER YOUR MOTIVATION’

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No More Spam Emails! 3 Tips to Make Emailing a Breeze

words or short phrases. This is helpful when you need to send someone a quick answer to keep things moving but you’re not interested in getting into the details then and there. In other words, you can buy yourself time until you can focus on a more thought-out response. Leo Laporte, host of the “This Week in Tech” (“TWiT”) podcast, has another suggestion: Tell people you don’t read emails. Of course, you do read emails, but the world doesn’t need to know it. This is a great way to cut down on the number of emails waiting in your inbox. Finally, set aside time to do an email purge. Look at the people and businesses that are sending you emails, decide which ones you don’t read anymore, and unsubscribe. Depending on the size of your inbox, this can take time, but it’s worth it. You’ll receive fewer emails, which means you won’t spend hours scrolling through your inbox, and that can save you time and money in the long run.

Emails are a time suck. As you read through the subject lines, you wonder how your time can be better spent. Kevin Rose, entrepreneur and founder of Digg.com, discovered an interesting way to limit the time he spends replying to emails, and it’s extremely simple. All you have to do is end all emails with “Sent from my smartphone.” Why does this make a difference? According to Rose, he found that people have different expectations based on whether emails are sent from mobile devices or computers. Presumably, any email that doesn’t include the tag “Sent from my smartphone” is sent from a computer with a full keyboard and your full attention. As it turns out, people don’t mind short, to-the-point emails if you reply on the go. The best part is that you can add the “Sent from my smartphone” from any device. You can add the signoff manually when you need a quick fix or add it to your signature.

You no longer have to waste time writing paragraphs in response. Instead, you can limit your responses to single

PUZZLE

HAVE A Laugh

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Inside This Edition

1.

Ed and Faith Take Off to Europe

2.

A Better Way to Think About Motivation

What Great Leaders Have in Common

3.

3 Tips to Make Emailing a Breeze

Have a Laugh

4.

Last-Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas

Don’t Get Lost in the Bustle 3 Last-Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas

unexpected holiday greeting could keep your business in mind as they go about their holiday shopping.

Decorate your website for the season. Your customers are already in the holiday spirit, so why not indulge them with some seasonal trappings on your website? Festive holiday touches to your company logo or new webpages recommending holiday gift ideas can go a long way to attract customer attention. You don’t have to be the flashiest display on the block, but showing off your holiday spirit will spread cheer and goodwill. Create gift card giveaways or incentives. Gift cards, even digital ones, are more popular than ever around the holiday season. In one survey, 43% of respondents said they planned on giving gift cards or certificates in lieu of other holiday presents. With 1 in 4 gift cards sold in the last four days leading up to Christmas, these ideal presents make the perfect last-minute marketing tool. Offer gift card incentives or giveaways for your loyal customers. They can make the perfect present for them and, in turn, your business.

If you haven’t capitalized on the holiday season for your business’s marketing campaign yet,

don’t worry, because you still have time! Even if you’re still a long sleigh ride away from finishing your own holiday to-do list, you can ensure your business flourishes this season with a few last-minute marketing ideas for the holidays. Send season’s greetings to loyal customers. Even if your Christmas or holiday-themed cards don’t mail on time, you can still send personalized emails or social media messages to let your customers know you’re thinking of them this holiday season. Established customers can be responsible for up to 40% of a business’s sales, and your

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