Heavy Rotation – April 2017

 An occasional look at what media and music I have on heavy rotation. See previous editions here.

Spring. Time for new music and media – here’s a selection of what should be on your listening list this month.

All album links in here will take you to Spotify. Let me know what I should be listening to in the comments.

March Review

Each month, I’m reviewing my progress in building my blog and holding myself accountable for writing every day. Previous reviews here.

For 2018, I set myself a goal of writing every day, and hopefully building my blog audience back up.  I’m tracking myself daily, but also keeping a monthly review here so that I can see progress.

So, how did I do in March

  • Posts in March: 34 posts (vs 36 in February)
  • Top Post:  #DeleteFacebook and Alternative strategies
  • Words Written: 9407 (vs 7712)
  • Average per post : 260 (vs 214)
  • Page Views: 959 (vs 706 in February – decent progress)

And a new count – to track another goal for this year:

  • Steps taken (from my Apple Watch): 268177 / 30 days worn = 8939 avg
  • Target for April = 9000 average 

Sunday Six Pack #9

Time to relax, pour yourself a coffee and enjoy the Sunday Six Pack, all killer, no filler, just six of the best links curated from a week of reading. Previous editions here.

Compiled whilst listening to The Weeknd – My Dear Melancholy

The Sunday Six Pack - great reading from across the web, curated for Sunday enjoyment Click To Tweet

Friday Customer Experience Pack #9

Every Friday, I round up the best Customer Experience writing I have seen during the week. Subscribe below if you’d like to receive this by email each week. Previous editions are here.

Everybody is building a customer-driven company - but what does it really mean? PLUS all the best CX writing this week. Click To Tweet

What did I miss? Let me know the best Customer Experience writing you’ve seen this week in the comments.



Digital Detox 2

As part of a spring clean – a series of posts where I document my ‘digital detox’ – reducing the clutter and streamlining my digital life. Previous here. 

Going through a Digital Detox requires a bit of discipline. The idea of reducing your interruptions, streamlining your digital footprint and making sure things are optimised means that you need to do some work to get there, but the results are good.

Since working on my IOS devices, I’ve been amazed at how much less I am drawn to my mobile devices, switching off notifications and reducing unwanted clutter and apps has made me much less reliant.   Then making sure I keep the discipline of keeping devices away from the bedroom has changed my relationship with my phone and Ipad.

Next – my Windows machines

This step was relatively easy.  I’m pretty good at keeping my PC environment clean and tidy.  I have a blocker in my calendar once a week for what I call the ‘”three d’s”.

Desktop – Downloads – Documents

Once a week I prompt myself to clear down those three folders, making sure that only the things I am working on are on my desktop.  Then I check my downloads folder and purge any temporary files that I’ve worked on.  Finally, I make sure that all the work documents I need are in my Documents folder, stored on OneDrive.

On my personal windows desktop at home, I do the same – using Dropbox to store my personal documents securely, in the cloud.

During the same process, I also run ccleaner from Piriform, a handy utility that does a bunch of cleanup activities on my PC and keeps any wasted space down to a minimum.   You can automate ccleaner, and run it on a schedule, but I prefer the full manual control.   Ccleaner also cleans cache and cookies from browsers and keeps those tidy.

I also run a full scan for viruses – using the built in Windows tools.

Removing Unwanted Apps

A final step here is to make sure that I don’t have any unwanted or unused software on my PC.  I might install something for a specific task, or to solve a particular problem.  Using your regular detox slot to remove those apps.

Desktop Notifications

A final step I’d recommend, in line with the detox completed on IOS devices last time around, would be to reduce the number of popups that you get.

I run my PC in quiet mode, by clicking on the notification icon in the System tray and selecting the quiet hours icon.

In my browser (Chrome), I am very deliberate about which notifications are allowed – you can check this by clicking on:

SETTINGS – ADVANCED – CONTENT SETTINGS – NOTIFICATIONS

From there you can review which sites are allowed to pop up notifications and you can set your browser to always ask you if notifications should be switched on.  I have switched most of mine off, save a few work specific ones on my laptop. My home desktop has NO notifications at all, allowing me to focus on writing when I need to.

Digital Detox in Windows

By completing these steps, I’ve made sure that my Windows machines are clutter free. I regularly schedule much of this work and keep a close eye on anything that might disturb my workflow.

Have you undergone a digital detox – how did you do it? Share your ideas and wisdom in the comments, I’d love to learn from you. 

Read: Be Amazing or Go Home by Shep Hyken

This is a review of Be Amazing or Go Home, a book written by Shep Hyken. You can read my other 2018 book reviews here.

A busy few weeks have slowed down my reading habit for 2018, but my Kindle on the morning commute has allowed me to enjoy Be Amazing or Go Home by Shep Hyken.

The core of Be Amazing or Go Home revolves around conversations that Shep had with two of his employees. One was a high performer. The other had previously been a great performer, but for some reason, standards had dipped and Shep was addressing this in a 1:1.  Ultimately, the statement was made; ‘be amazing or go home’.

The outcome was that the employee did end up leaving, but with the blessing and support of Hyken, but the conversations that led to this decision generate some good discussion.

What is amazing?

Hyken often talks about and defines amazing as:

Predictable consistent above-average performance.

So with this baseline, the book outlines the idea of delivering service at a standard higher the competition every day. It’s not about a grand gesture or an unsustainable programme but the incremental gains that get to a powerful position over time.

I fully subscribe to the idea of 0.1% better every day, you may well be able to deliver big step changes but sustained growth and improvement come from gains every day.

Seven Habits

Be Amazing or Go HomeHyken then goes on to describe the Seven Habits of amazement, which are some great competencies that can be adopted by Service professions and passed on by Leaders.

There are some excellent ideas in this list (which I’m not going to spoil) and everyone will have their own favourite that resonates well for them, either as an area of strength, or an opportunity for them or their team.

My personal favourite is that ‘amazing people want feedback’, a skill that I have had to focus on to improve, and one I see in the best employees I’ve had.

Shep talks about this skill through the lens of the employee conversations he had, giving examples of employees that were hungry for feedback and contrasting that with an employee that was resistant.

The comparison is made really clear, and there are takeaways from each of the seven habits of amazement which are relevant and transferable.

For my own personal development, I am trying to ensure that I am open to feedback whenever I can find opportunities. Asking for feedback and really listening and taking value from it is a muscle that constantly needs exercising, this chapter in Be Amazing or Go Home was a great reminder of how important that is.

Overall

Shep Hyken puts together the ‘seven habits of amazing’ in a relatable and understandable way. Whilst there is nothing groundbreaking in here, there is a great set of examples and analogies which can be used to remind yourself AND coach onwards to team members as part of their development.

Be Amazing or Go Home is an excellent short read that can help develop Customer Service muscles. I would highly recommend it to anyone as a strong addition to your Customer Service bookshelf.

Working Out Loud Circle – Week Ten

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Last week was super busy for me, so the arrival of Friday came as a bit of surprise, as usual, it started with the Working Out Loud circle meeting.

So what did we do this week?

We checked in with an excellent opening question – “What did you do since last weeks meeting?”, which prompted another variety of answers.   For me, I had two key things; my first LinkedIn post, and a video which I recorded for my colleagues in New Zealand.

I was really pleased with the comments and feedback on my first LinkedIn blog post, there is an audience there I haven’t explored yet and I’ll definitely be adding it to my content strategy moving forward. Maybe a couple of posts a month.

Recording a video was uncomfortable for me, a little out of my courage envelope – but it seemed to go well and was a broadcast of my plans for the next year, so a real ‘Working Out Loud’ moment.

The group then moved on to the exercises of the week – and we talked about the journey from ad hoc to systematic sharing with our relationship lists.  For some of us, this felt like using a CRM system to manage personal relationships, and while this might feel unnatural at first it could also be compared with the systematic writing of greetings cards at Christmas.

For me, I’m going to work on developing the connections to my network(s) into a ‘natural’ action, like a muscle memory.  I might use a systematic approach to get there, but I want it to be natural and authentic.  That will take a little bit of work.

We talked at length about offering vulnerability and how the two approaches in the guide connected with us all. As ever, there were different ‘lenses’ on the approaches, but there was a consensus that humility was needed for the best connections.

My key takeaways

  • As I’m nearing the end of this circle, it feels like I could ‘go round again’ – with new goals, and new relationship lists.  I’m going to explore that level of commitment.
  • Building a natural contribution to my relationship lists (and other networks) is critical for me to feel like the WOL process has been successful. This needs some thinking.

What did I do after this weeks meeting?

  • Working on contributions to my relationship list, and review how those relationships have developed since the WOL circle started.
  • Continue a digital detox to grow my focus on the important things.  Read my first post on the detox here. 

Sunday Six Pack #8

Time to relax, pour yourself a coffee and enjoy the Sunday Six Pack, all killer, no filler, just six of the best links curated from a week of reading. Previous editions here.

Compiled whilst watching Aquarius on Netflix

The Sunday Six Pack - great reading from across the web, curated for Sunday enjoyment Click To Tweet

Friday Customer Experience Pack #8

Every Friday, I round up the best Customer Experience writing I have seen during the week. Subscribe below if you’d like to receive this by email each week. Previous editions are here.

Five perfect reminders of what leaders can do to ensure that a culture of great service is in their organisation. PLUS all the best CX writing this week. Click To Tweet

What did I miss? Let me know the best Customer Experience writing you’ve seen this week in the comments.