Three Pillars of a People-Focused, Results Driven Culture

Recently, Service Express was asked to participate in the Return on Values Project, a three-year, $1 million research project that asks the question “What is the relationship between culture and profit in small and mid-size business?” The project is sponsored by Inc Magazine’s Small Giants community and Benedictine University.

This is the first in a series of videos filmed on-site at Service Express featuring interviews with a number of SEI employees who share how performance measurement impacts them and contributes to an engaging culture.



One Essential Key to Developing Your Social Media Influence

On October 16, 1869 workers digging in a field in Cardiff, New York unearthed a startling specimen; the petrified remains of a 10ft tall giant man.

The owner of the land, George Hull, set a tent over the remains and charged visitors .25 cents to view it. Droves of people flocked to this tiny farm field in New York – so many in fact, that in just 2 days Hull was able to raise the cost of admittance to .50 cents. Visitors gazed in thoughtful silence at the twisted and contorted remains. In their imaginings, they were transported to an ancient world where giants walked the planet. It did not take long, however, before archaeologists presented evidence that proved the giant was no more than a stone carving created by Mr. Hull, and stained with acid to give the appearance of age. Despite the evidence, many people defended the validity of the giant, unwilling to believe that this beautiful story was not real.

We love a good story.

Actors, movie studios, publishers, video game creators, and, yes, social media connections, are some of the most prevalent influencers in our lives because of their ability to move us. Those who tell stories well are rewarded commensurately. Those who can’t tell an engaging narrative burn out quickly.

How to Use Batching to Become More Productive

A friend recently sent me a fascinating article on “batching.” After reading it, I became intrigued with the idea of dedicating blocks of time to similar tasks in order to decrease distraction and increase productivity. While there are variations of batching, the Pomodoro Technique is well thought out and I’ve been using it for several years. I also offer free tools and resources to get you started (you’ll find them at the end of this article).

What is Batching?

Batching is simply a form of time management that allows a person to maximize concentration and decrease distraction. As a result, it increases your productivity, creativity, and mental sharpness, while decreasing fatigue, procrastination, and stress. Batch processing is the grouping of similar tasks that require similar resources in order to streamline their completion.

Too many of us go through our day allowing distractions to dictate our activities.  Our brains have become finely attuned to the beeps, chirps and the buzzes of our devices.  We’re in a constant state of reacting to the needs or interjections of those distractions (e.g., email, phone calls, text messages, voicemail, meetings, social media, etc), However well-intentioned, we often allow the priorities of others to supersede our own. How often have you had a project or specific tasks that required time and focus but an email or phone call distracted you from accomplishing it? Working in a perpetual state of shifting tasks and refocusing attention creates fatigue, stress, and decreased productivity.

Every time we become distracted, it takes an average of 15 minutes to regain complete focus. 

The Best iPhone Productivity Apps of 2013

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2009 I thought, here, finally, is a device that will bring a little more organization to my life and which will, surely, make me more productive. And so I sold my Palm Treo and delayed my anniversary vacation so that my wife could wait in line for me at the AT&T store in order to fork out $700 for one.


While the original iPhone was a noticeable improvement over previous smartphones, it was still very limited. After all, it had only half a screen of applications and lacked basic tools like a task manager.

Fast forward to 2013- past the advent of the app store, social media, cloud-based solutions that sync data, and better hardware (including gps and the accelerometer). The iPhone has become a much more integrated device for managing productivity.

More recently, a new breed of iPhone apps have begun to hit the App Store that have more intuitive and sleek interfaces.  After testing many, here are 11 of the best productivity apps that I’ve found for the iPhone.

Lance Armstrong: 6 Lessons from a Fallen Hero

The news is awash with the undoing of Lance Armstrong.  It seems as though nothing gets the media more frenzied than the fall of a hero.

But Lance Armstrong’s story is not all that different from many who have risen and fallen before him, including Presidents, CEOs, entertainers and ministers.  The truth is, Armstrong’s fall from grace is not all that different from many everyday circumstances that you and I have played witness to.

Lessongs from Lance Armstrong's failure.

But I’ve found that there’s more to each story than just the lurid details that the media focuses their attention on.  There are great lessons for us and for our kids.

We all face our own demons and we are susceptible to a great fall if we’re not on the offense.

I’ve found that very similar themes often accompany falls like Lance Armstrong’s.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot

The choices that we make each day have a compounding effect.  When we make a decision to bend a rule here or to compromise a value there, our choices add up quickly and before we know it, they change the trajectory of our lives.

My New Book: If Social Media is a Game, These are the Rules

My new book, If Social Media is a Game, These are the Rules: 10 Rules for Building a Profitable Social Media Strategy is on sale at Amazon for .99 through the end of August.  You can download and read it on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Kindle, or Nook.

I’d appreciate it if you would share the news with your Twitter, Facebook, or Linked network!

Steve Jobs: Failing Forward

The news is awash with retrospective pieces on the accomplishments of Steve Jobs. Rightfully so, accomplishments should be celebrated.

As innovative and redefining as Job’s successes are, I have become more enamored with his failures. More specifically, in his ability to fail forward.

Every product that Steve Jobs creates turns to gold, right? I mean, there is the iPod, the iPhone, iTunes, the iPad, and the Mac. Then there is the Lisa computer, the hockey puck mouse, NeXT Computer, the Rokr, iTools, and the G4 Cube…

Steve Jobs has had epic success, but he has also had epic failure.

5 Ways to Measure the Success of Your Social Media Strategy

This article was featured in Social Media Today

Social media followers are not baseball cards, they’re not meant to be collected. They’re value does not increase with time, in fact, they have no monetary value whatsoever.  You cannot sell them. The number of people you have in your network is not an indication of how profitable you will be. Why then do we work so hard to collect them?

In my book If Social Media is a Game, These are the Rules: 10 Rules for Building a Profitable Social Media Strategy, I discuss the importance of measuring your engagement rather than the size of your network.  Contrary to our cultural euphemisms, size does not always matter.

If you follow the implicit rules of social media, the numbers will likely follow.

Social media is relational, not transactional. People must first be sold on you, before they can be moved from a relational environment (social media) to a transactional environment (your website or e-commerce site).

Here are 5 performance indicators and tools to measure your engagement:

“But, that’s just me.”

“But, that’s just me.”

It’s an expression that often excuses irrational statements. If a person must qualify a statement by recognizing that it may very well be wrong, they quickly lose credibility.

What it says to others about me when I use such statements :

- I acknowledge that my statement is probably incorrect, but I choose to buy in to it anyway.  “Just because” is not a consideration that leaders weigh when making decisions.
- I am lazy.  I won’t be bothered with the work necessary to uncover requisite facts, data, or other objective information before making my statements, judgments, or decisions.
- I don’t really care what others think or the quality of the input they may provide; there is no room for discussion, my mind won’t be changed.
- I believe that others should also buy into my conclusion based on my (very scientific) feelings – because, hey, it’s me after all – not because it’s well thought-out and carefully constructed on facts.

If you desire credibility, don’t ask others to buy into something “just because.”  Don’t put your credibility on the line with a hasty and ill-informed expression.

Be thoughtful. Be intentional. Make statements after considering objective information, then follow up with more subjective but logical conclusions. Finally, ask for input. It demonstrates that you’re interested in arriving at the best conclusion based on all of the information. It’s what leaders do.

People buy into those who speak rationally and who eschew whimsical statements.

But, that’s just me.