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Book Binge: 7 Books I am Reading Now

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 | 3 comments

When I get too busy, the first thing to go (unfortunately, unconsciously) is reading. So when I realize that’s happened, and it’s been a while since I made time to read a book, I binge. At this time of year, when I am planning for the next year, I often binge on books that nourish the entrepreneurial part of me.

Here are seven books I am reading now. I can’t really vouch for them since I haven’t finished them. But they all started as sample downloads on the Kindle and have all now been purchased in full.

If you want to read with me, I’m including Amazon links.

The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust

Why I’m reading it: I expect mentoring/coaching clients to be a growing part of my consulting business and am interested in building my knowledge and skills in this area.

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

Why I’m reading it: Same reason as above, hope it makes me a better coach/mentor.

Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out

Why I’m reading it: My company is built largely on my personal brand. I’ve hated most personal branding books, but am really enjoying Marc Ecko’s writing style (although I will admit I’d never heard of his clothing brand before the book).

The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work

Why I’m reading it: Love WordPress, working in virtual teams, and memoir.

Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less

Why I’m reading it: I could use a little help focusing on a growth strategy for Nonprofit Marketing

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

Why I’m reading it: I’m a fan of 99U and have enjoyed some of Scott Belsky’s other stuff, like Making Ideas Happen. Kristina and I are reading this together to see if we can learn anything about how we work together as a company.

The Circle

Why I’m reading it: This one work of fiction on the list is by Dave Eggers, one of my favorite authors, and it’s about a social media/online media company that monopolizes the Internet (and therefore the world, I take it). So given that my company works online and depends on companies like Google and Facebook, it definitely has a work angle.

Let me know if you plan on reading any of these, and what you reading right now.

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Apps I Use at Conferences

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 | 1 comment

It’s Spring Conference Season, which means I am on the road a lot again, mostly as a speaker, but also as a conference attendee.

I try to make the most out of the conferences I attend by strategically using the apps on my smartphone.  I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 at the moment — which I LOVE — and all links in this post are to the  Google Play Store.

Top Three Apps I Use at Conferences All the Time


Each conference should have a hashtag, and individual sessions probably have their own too. Set up and save searches so you can open the conference streams quickly. Hootsuite makes it very easy to do this. For example, say there are two sessions you really want to go to at the same time. Pick one and watch the other via the hashtag. If the other one seems more interesting,  vote with your feet and change sessions. I also tell people that if they want to connect with me onsite, use Twitter during the conference rather than calling or emailing me. I’m much more likely to see a message quickly that way.


I am too slow at taking notes live on my phone or tablet, and often don’t want to schlep the laptop to sessions. My solution is taking notes the old fashioned way with a pen and notebook, which is also a good excuse for buying blank books, which I love, love, love. So I take notes by hand, but at the close of each session or at the end of the day, I snap pictures of the pages and save them into Evernote. As long as I am not too sloppy, Evernote can read my handwriting, so my notes are searchable.

Sidenote: I do have a Livescribe pen, and have tried to record sessions while notetaking, which is nice, but the Livescribe pen is too fat and really does hurt my hand, so I have stopped using it.  Loss of the audio isn’t that big a deal because I can record on the phone if I really need it.

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9 Ways to Be More Productive

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 | 0 comments

1. Invest in speed. I don’t know how much time I’ve lost waiting for web pages to download, for email to send, and for various computer programs to open, but I know it would be a whole lot more without the broadband Internet connection and the relatively new computer. Spend a little bit more for the speed and you will never regret it.

2. Prioritize often. At start of each week, I scan the calendar and the to-do list and make some mental notes about what I want to focus on that week. At the start of each work day, I note the top three tasks I want to complete. An hour or so before I quit for the day, I look at the long to-do list again and see if there is anything really important that has to be done that day. Often times urgent communications tasks will pop up during the day, but don’t let them sidetrack you from working on your other priorities too. Integrate them into your full to-do list.

3. Delegate. This is a hard one for me, but I’m getting better at it. What tasks can you pass off to an intern or someone you can hire for under $20/hour? Even if it takes me 30 minutes of training and supervision to make it happen, allowing someone else to do the busy work that would eat up three hours of my time is a bargain. It lets me focus on the tasks that truly require my personal attention. Get someone else to format the web page or the press kit after you write the meaty part.

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Resolutions for a More Productive 2013

Posted by on Jan 10, 2013 | 0 comments

Does your new year include any work-related resolutions? Mine always do. In past years, I’ve done the “three words” approach.

This year, I’m taking the “year of weeks” approach, where I am going to try a little something new each week, and commit to doing that thing for a solid seven days. At the end of the week, I’ll decide whether I really do want to try to make it a permanent habit (which takes longer than a week), or just an occasional to-do, or to drop the thing completely because it just isn’t for me. This will include both work and personal choices.

This “year of weeks” concept comes from a couple of different books I purchased last year: 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You and One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler.

This week I am establishing new morning and evening routines, which comes from One Bite at a Time. I especially want to switch up what I do in the hour or so between when I get the kids out the door and when I really wake up enough to start work. I am not a morning person, and since I work from home, I don’t have a commute where I can finish waking up. When the weather is warmer, I will sometimes exercise in the morning, but not when it’s cold out. So what ends up happening now is basically a lot of sitting around, often watching pathetic morning TV or reading the newspaper on my tablet, most of which isn’t particularly helpful or enlightening either.

So I’ve come up with a new morning routine with a handful of items, including one right brain and one left brain activity. Right brain activities are journaling or drawing. My left brain activities are either doing sudoku or reading a non-fiction book (right now, I’m reading The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns and Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives).

I also want to do a better job at expressing my gratitude to people personally, so I asked and received some new notecards for Christmas.

I know from reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business that cues are very important to establishing new habits. So to help with the new morning routine, I created a space in my office with what I need. I can’t miss the huge green chair in my office, and right next to it, I’ve placed my writing journal, a blank page notebook, some remedial drawing books, colored pens, notecards and stamps, and sudoku books and a pencil. I’ll plop my morning brain down here with a cup of tea, and get to it.

Morning Routine Space

I made this corner in my office into a visual cue for the new morning routine I want to make a habit.

Interested in other productivity ideas for 2013? Here are few other posts from earlier today that you might like:

From Katya: Three Powerful Ways to Do a Better Job in 2013

From Hubspot: Five Resolutions to Amplify Your Nonprofit’s 2013 Fundraising Strategy

From ScoutieGirl: Make 2013 Your Best Year Yet

What new things are you trying in 2013 to increase your productivity or just make a happier you? I’d love to hear in the comments.

This post includes Amazon affiliate links.

Originally shared on Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog

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Work Is a State of Mind, Not a Place

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 | 1 comment

A recent survey of business executives concluded that work isn’t really a place any longer — it’s a state of mind. That’s because mobile technology and social networking make it easier for us to merge the professional and the personal. As this infographic shows, 98% of executives say they send work-related emails on nights and weekends, and the same percentage deal with personal matters at the office.

The Work State of Mind


I have no doubt that this holds true in the nonprofit world too.

But what are the implications for nonprofit communications staff? Is this good, bad, or neutral for your nonprofit?

I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments. 


Originally published on Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog

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