Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Prepare Your Business for Withstanding a Hurricane

As businesses and residents of Texas and Louisiana recover from Hurricane Harvey, those of us in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina brace for the arrival of Hurricane Irma. Although it can feel overwhelming to prepare for a natural disaster, especially one of this magnitude, there are steps each of us can and should be taking right now to make sure we are ready. 

Invest a little time now to make sure you, your employees, your relationships with your vendor partners as well as your customers and your facilities are prepared for whatever is headed your way. Here are 5 things businesses can do today to prepare:
  • Establish from where employees can obtain important updates during an emergency situation, especially when and where to return to work if there is a satellite or back-up location.
  • Determine how your choice of operations before, during and after the storm will be communicated to all your partners, including customers, prospects and vendors alike. If you have overdue updates to partners' data, enter those new email addresses or phone numbers before things get too hectic.
  • Verify all computer programs, documents and data are being automatically backed up from each team member's technology to a remote location, preferably via an online cloud back-up solution that will save the information to multiple servers in various parts of the country. Choose whichever option works best for your needs at the lowest cost between Backblaze, Carbonite, Crash Plan and Mozy.
  • Decide how you will facilitate payroll if you are displaced, lose power or have intermittent Internet connectivity.
  • Make certain you have proper insurance and it is up to date. Ask your insurance agent, broker or underwriter if you are adequately covered for potential property damage as well as what business interruptions you could possibly face. 
If conditions become unsafe to go out, you might be stuck at work or your home; therefore, make sure you have what supplies might be necessary for the long haul. Visit for what should be included in a disaster supplies kit and, then, start accumulating it all, storing them somewhere easily accessible yet secure. For more about what you need, click here for a video description, and take actions to get ready now.

Power outages are regularly a by-product of natural disasters, particularly when strong winds are a factor; therefore, prepare for potential power outages with these steps:
- Fill up your gas tank. Without power, the pumps don’t work.
- Visit your bank's ATM for cash. Credit and debit cards won’t work during a power outage.
- Charge your mobile devices and try steps from to conserve battery consumption. If you can, get at least one back-up battery, like this Unifun 10400mAh Waterproof External Battery Power Bank Charger, Techlink ReCharge 3400 Portable Charger or PowerNow USB Rechargeable Mobile Battery Charger.
- Keep on hand extra batteries for your flashlights so you are always ready to see in the dark.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has partnered with Agility Recovery Solutions to provide this disaster planning toolbox, from which you can obtain checklists for recovery overview, critical business functions to consider, assessing your risks, creating your emergency communications plan, phone recovery, your disaster recovery kit, winter weather preparedness, earthquake preparedness, tornado preparedness, wildfire preparedness, flood preparedness, hurricane preparedness, crisis communications to consider and much more. I highly recommend small business owners and entrepreneurs check these out to troubleshoot what's missing from any company's preparedness plan.

Above all, though, make a plan, prepare for possible communication gaps, have the supplies you need on hand and keep what you’ll need remotely stored in the cloud.

For more in-depth advice to prepare for future natural disasters, attend my lunch and learn workshop "When Disaster Strikes, Will Your Business and Your Team Be Ready?" at 11:30am to 1:30pm on Thursday, September 28th. September is National Preparedness Month, and we'll address tactics to help you, your team and your entire business become prepared for emergencies, including hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, fires, winter storms, terrorism, geological events and technological issues. By attending this class, you'll learn how to do the following:
  • Create an Emergency Response Plan
  • Find solutions for data and paperwork challenges
  • Build an Emergency Preparedness Kit
  • Develop a Communications Strategy
  • Maintain and update plans
To gather additional details and reserve your spot, please visit

What natural disasters are issues where you reside? How have you prepared for those potential issues? What steps can you take now to be fully prepared for the next emergency to strike?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Is It Time To Simplify Your Life?

The first week of August is celebrated as "Simplify Your Life Week"; however, I feel confident that any time of the year can be ideal for streamlining. With a little effort, you can determine what matters most and develop razor-sharp focus of your resources on those priority goals; you can best invest your limited time in efficiently and effectively achieving the results desired.

Clutter is the greatest deterrent when working to organize for success. Whether the clutter is in your space, your mind, your technology or your calendar, beyond simply robbing you of precious time, it can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Clutter makes each of us overwhelmed, enhancing the difficulty of forward-thinking decision-making and creating a scenario where it is more challenging to best achieve your goals.

Taking time to simplify can tame some of this stress, making it easier to quickly find what you need and effortlessly know what needs to be done at any moment. Here are some strategies that can be implemented this month to eliminate the unnecessary:

Deliberately choose how you invest your time. By developing habits for a weekly strategy session and daily wrap-up, you can map out a specific game plan to guide you throughout the week and, then, stay on track amidst the world's distractions.

- Stay true to your priorities. Yes, priorities can shift by the day, week, month or year; sometimes, there are shifts minute-by-minute. Yet, if you have a flexible game plan that can act as your protective barrier, you can shuffle how you invest your time accordingly, filling each day's 1,440 minutes with only what matters most and keeping your actions aligned with your goals.

- Respect the value of your space. Whether it's in your physical space, electronic files, email folders or calendar, keep only what is accurate, applicable, useful or bringing you joy. When anything not meeting one of those requirements is maintained, there's more to dig through, leading to overwhelm, distractions and stress.

- Be positively present. Try to live in the current moment instead of worrying about the future or what is outside of your control. Listen intently to others, focusing on understanding rather than planning how you will respond. Accept that none of us is perfect, and work to bring folks together rather than fueling divisiveness.

- Learn to say "no". What can you keep out of your space? What can be deleted in general? What tasks or time commitments can be delegated? With tips from mindbodygreen, it's easier to master the art of saying no, which eliminates what doesn't rank high enough in your priorities to earn space in your files or time on your schedule.

- Incorporate tactics for success from work-life integration. Through research by Wharton's Work / Life Integration Project along with my clients' best practices, yes, you can create harmony with goals for work, home, community and self complementing one another rather than competing with each other. Focus on outcomes over activities, and invest your time in activities that accomplish wins in more than one area of life at the same time.

What steps do you take to simplify your life? Will you try any new tactics for this year's Simplify Your Life Week?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Make Summer More Productive

Summer officially kicks off today, and you might be feeling a little more sluggish, laid back or easy going than during other seasons. When someone mentions summer, many folks' minds drift to being on vacation, hanging out by the pool or lounging on the beach with toes in the sand. Alternatively, you might reflect immediately on the rising temperatures and how difficult it is to concentrate in the heat. Yet, there are steps we all can take to make summer more productive. Here are a few ways to boost productivity this summer:

1. Calendar the craziness. Line up calendars for the next three months along your wall so you can see everything coming up at a glance. These might be wall-hanging paper calendars or dry-erase calendars; the key is to have the next three months visible at once. Then, add vacations for you and your team members, holiday celebrations, impending deadlines and family commitments, including swim meets and camp registrations alike. Include all elements of your life (work, home, community and self), considering different colors for each of those buckets. When you know what is coming, you can more proactively invest your time in achieving all of your desired results for each area of life.

2. Establish your non-negotiables from the get-go. As summer schedules tend to become a little more erratic than normal, you and your team need to know which items have less flexibility than others. For me, I absolutely must maintain my weekly strategy session and daily wrap-up, but the good habits that keep each individual on track productively will vary from person to person. Do you expect your team members to have certain hours during which they always work in the office rather than operate remotely? Is there an expectation for how team members should request vacation time or notify the rest of the team about a hiccup related to impending deadlines, which can be especially vital with varying schedules for summer vacations? This would be a good time to communicate leadership's expectations to everyone. Be as clear, concise and transparent as you can.

3. Focus your efforts on tasks, not projects. It's not possible to check a project off your to-do list in one sitting. "Plan a party" is not a single action item; instead, there are many actions that make up that project. As you are mapping out the next three months, take time to break larger goals into smaller, bite-sized action items that can be completed as individual tasks. Start each task with a verb so as to fuel action, break each task down to as simple of a function as possible, estimate how long each action item will take to complete so you readily know those tasks taking 10 or 30 minutes, and and assign a deadline for each task's completion.

4. Invest some time to reflect inward. With erratic schedules during the summer, many companies have fewer meetings that would otherwise be held at normal intervals; this can be the ideal time to review and reset some of your organization's key elements. When was the last time your team updated its mission, vision, core values, annual goals, processes and workspace organization? If it has been awhile, block out time during the dog days of summer to look them over and adjust as needed. Maybe you'll want to freshen up your customers' experiences, update what messages you are conveying across all mediums and put yourself in the client's shoes. Further, this can be an ideal time for a personal audit, where you assess what you have learned and achieved thus far this year, what priorities need attention in the coming months and what "someday" actions need to be scheduled so they move from to-do to done. Do your goals for work, home, community or self need to be adjusted, and how can you realign your actions to focus on achieving each?

5. Make time for fun and frivolity. If you block out time to truly enjoy the season, you'll be less distracted by what you are missing when you are focusing intently on getting things done. The "Fun Summer Activities Checklist" from Real Simple and "31 Totally Free Things to Do This Summer" from PureWow are excellent places to brainstorm what cool things you can do to dive into summer enjoyment; then, once you've blocked off time for those activities, your mind will be less likely to drift from working towards wondering when you'll actually be able to celebrate summer fun. Plus, when you are taking time to enjoy all this season offers, you can truly take a break from everything else since you've planned for when those other goals will be addressed.

What steps do you take to make summer more productive? Will you be implementing or attempting any of these here?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Is It Time To Stop Saying I'm Sorry?

There has been a buzz growing about the negative impact of saying "I'm sorry". Folks contend that it holds back career success, prevents stronger relationships and makes the person saying it appear weaker. As opposed to saying "I apologize", the phrasing of "I'm sorry" suggests you are claiming first-hand that you are a sorry human-being. In researching this phenomenon, I read about a study published in Psychology Science that had men and women journal how often they committed an offense as well as whether or not they subsequently offered an apology, which reported women committing more offenses and offering more apologies than men.

As I studied this, I became acutely aware of each time I used the phrase of "I'm sorry". Whether it was bumping against someone walking through a doorway, because I'd missed the other person's call due to being in a meeting or when I'm running a few minutes late arriving somewhere, I felt a twinge of "I shouldn't have done that" with each iteration. "Oh, no... What will they think of me?!?"

Although I want to be considerate of others, remembering we are all humans who put our pants on one leg at a time and regularly make mistakes, I certainly don't want others to view me as a lesser person due simply to my word choice. Therefore, I've been practicing two new habits: First, I choose carefully when an apology is appropriate or if I should be responding in a different manner. Then, second, I make sure to word each apology as "I apologize" rather than letting "I'm sorry" simply roll off my tongue. There is a distinction between those statements, and I want to make sure I'm conveying the appropriate message.

As I have made these resolutions, I've realized that breaking a bad habit is very difficult. I backslide from time to time, but I'm trying to be kind and understanding with my own shortcomings. I know that changing my words isn't about mind over matter; instead, it means I have to be thinking about it regularly until that thought process is simply inherent to my thinking. That's no easy feat.

I will keep at it, I will get better daily, and I am confident my efforts will make me a better communicator. Meanwhile, I will eagerly await the day that the Google Chrome extension for Just Not Sorry will be expanded to include the Mac Mail application.

Are you aware of how often you say "I"m sorry"? If so, what are your thoughts about that? How does it strike you when you hear someone else use that phrase? Which phrases bother you more?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

5 Lessons for Business Leaders from World Champion Coach Steve Kerr of the NBA's Golden State Warriors

Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors for wrapping up this year's National Basketball Association world championship with last night's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. I never hide how I'm a huge fan of the San Antonio Spurs, especially their brilliant Coach Gregg Popovich; however, it's not possible to accomplish all the great feats that the Warriors have over the past 3 years without powerful leadership: at least 67 victories each year and championship rings in 2 out of the last 3 years. I have seen that outstanding leadership in head coach Steve Kerr, and I believe the following 5 leadership lessons can benefit productivity for all time-crunched professionals.

1. Inspire others with your competitive drive and enthusiasm. Knowing exactly when to show the right emotions for the circumstances, Coach Kerr energizes his assistant coaches, players and support staff with his passion for continual improvement. He works continually to expertly reign in Draymond Green's emotional outbursts while encouraging his team to play with a drive for excellence. He even famously smashed a clipboard last year as the Warriors gave up a third quarter lead, explaining that he'd rather take his frustrations "out on the board rather than a player". There's a time for everything, and each leader must be aware of the impact one's actions have on one's team members.

2. See the potential in your team members and encourage it to grow. Each year, Coach Kerr has taken a growing core of star players, invested in bettering their excellence and plotted out how to best highlight each player's strengths in a way that has them working together like a well-oiled machine. He regularly exhibits his faith in his players' abilities and invests a great deal of effort in helping them become even better. This year, in addition to the strengths of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and crew, Coach Kerr sought to incorporate the advanced skills of Kevin Durant, resulting in a powerhouse team that far exceeds its competitors. Commitment to team members makes everyone better, especially the results for the team in its totality.

3. Acknowledge that success comes from your team members' performance. In both instances that the Warriors won championships, Coach Kerr hid amongst those on stage, almost refusing the microphone as he encouraged everyone who was on the court making the shots and defending the opponents to speak. He understood that his role is to encourage their star potential, but he can only draw up the plays while they are the ones actually dribbling the ball. Everyone within the Warriors organization echoes Coach Kerr's humility, humbleness and belief in teamwork, understanding that "Together, everyone achieves more" and putting the greater good ahead of any individual's success.

4. Empower a "next man up" mentality. Whether it was Draymond Green's absence in last year's NBA Finals due to too many technical fouls, players having to step away throughout the season due to injuries or Coach Kerr's own health concerns forcing him to step away temporarily, all members of the Warriors' organization are aware of the communicated expectation that they must step up to fill any void as it appears for the betterment of the team. Coach Kerr has shown the ultimate trust in his assistant coaches, players and support staff, which empowers them to better perform their necessary duties. When your team knows you trust them, they are empowered to step up and fuel desired results.

5. Constantly take the temperature of everything related to your team. Coach Kerr has developed personal connections with each of his assistant coaches, players and support staff members such that he knows exactly what's up with his organization, can proactively pre-empt hurdles and works strategically to realign issues before big problems arise. When you connect with your people, exhibiting empathy for team members' needs, they'll open up to you and better trust your subsequent decisions.

It is with these leadership lessons that Coach Kerr continues to achieve record-breaking successes, setting an example that inspires those around him to achieve greatness alongside him.

Which of these leadership lessons do you find most valuable? Are there other such leadership skills you've seen exhibited by Coach Steve Kerr?

Friday, June 9, 2017

What Business Etiquette Do You Utilize?

Business Etiquette Basics
The first full week in June is celebrated as National Business Etiquette Week, recognizing the need for proper business etiquette to compete in the growing global marketplace. According to Business Dictionary, business etiquette is "expected behaviors and expectations for individual actions within society, group or class; within a place of business, it involves treating coworkers and employer with respect and courtesy in a way that creates a pleasant work environment for everyone." Quite a few folks claim that business etiquette is a lost art; at times, I get a little lackadaisical about some of the best etiquette rules, which is why it's time to revisit these top tips for better business etiquette:

  • Exhibit courteousness. Avoid derogatory, rude or offensive language, particularly curse words. Stop interrupting others, even if you are afraid of forgetting the point you are wanting to make. Say "please" and "thank you". However, avoid overusing "thank you" in any single conversation; more than once or twice per conversation may dilute its impact.
  • Nail introductions. Say your full name when introducing yourself. Stand whenever someone else is introducing you. If you are unsure whether those around you know one another, be proactive in introducing them to each other.
  • Send thank you notes often. When interviewing for a job or new business opportunity, send separate thank you notes to each person interviewing you. Although email is acceptable, choose hand-written notes whenever possible.
  • Mind your manners over meals. Always break bread with your hands since using a knife is considered inappropriate; tear off one piece at a time. Let wait staff do their jobs; don't push an empty plate away when you're finished, and avoid stacking dishes as you finish with them. Further, balance your food with whatever others order. If your guest orders an appetizer or dessert, do the same; make sure everyone is equally comfortable. Finally, any meal's host should always pay. If you did the inviting, you are the host and responsible for the bill.
  • Master the skill of conversation. Come prepared with a few casual, non-business topics in mind, and, then, engage fully in the discussion. Never resort to pushing your business card on folks; instead, connect about what each of you needs and discuss how you can help one another. When at a networking event, have exit lines in mind so you can leave a conversation smoothly and politely, like "Nice to meet you", "Nice talking to you" or "See you at next week's meeting". Alternatively, when wrapping up a conversation, you can excuse yourself for a bathroom break, to get food or by explaining if you need to connect with someone else before leaving.
  • Be aware of expectations regarding technology. You should never use your phone during meetings unless expressly suggested for social media promotion. When in a meeting, don't take calls, text or check email; instead, focus on the meeting discussion or presentation. Likewise, make sure you double-check each email before hitting send, and don't copy a recipient that does not need to be receiving that information; people are already overwhelmed with the loads of emails received daily and don't want additional messages that are unnecessary. Most importantly, don't say anything in an email, text or instant message that you don't want broadcast to the masses.
  • Be respectful of colleagues and clients alike. Don't walk into someone's office unannounced or without asking that person's permission. Avoid gossiping, and don't eavesdrop on others' conversations. Then, when in the midst of your own conversation, be sure you are truly listening to what others are saying with an interest in understanding their viewpoints rather than being focused on how you will respond to what is being said. Further, realize that you don't ever know the full story because you aren't in someone else's hand so don't judge and don't make assumptions; ask questions and seek clarification.
With which of these business etiquette rules do you struggle the most? Which rules would you add to this list?

Monday, June 5, 2017

I Blogged Daily for a Month... Here's What Happened

Lessons from Regular Writing
Throughout the entire month of May, I wrote at least one post each of the 31 days. Celebrating 10 years of business for Organize for Success®, I posted a "top 10" list daily, intermingled with the last four posts in my "Countdown to Memorial Day" series of travel tips from frequent travelers. It was an eye-opening experience, and I'm writing today to share some of what I discovered doing this.

First, it was much more time-consuming than anticipated. Going into this project, I figured "It's only a list of 10 things per day; how much time could that possibly require?" It ended up being a heck of a lot more time than I ever imagined. It involved time brainstorming topics for all 31 "top 10" lists, outlining all the content I wanted to include in each post, typing it out as I wanted the content conveyed, editing what I'd typed, incorporating images as needed and adding links wherever possible.

Second, it really was fun. Part of the fun was culling together the best of the best from the many tips I've shared over the years. An additional part of the fun was taking a stroll down memory lane for some of the personal experiences I wanted to share with you. Yet another part of the fun was thinking through things I enjoy and what matters most to me. It was great to get your feedback as the blog readers about how my favorites resonated with you and what are your faves. It was such great dialogue both online and off.

Third, I'm proud of all the content I created. These 31 "top 10" lists covered a wide array of topics, ranging from ways to boost your productivity to insights about me and my business, and I like the way the information was conveyed. I got into a groove of writing the lists in a conversational tone, and I believe my content was easy to digest, including lots of useful recommendations.

If you missed any of those "top 10" lists, please click here, and leave a comment; I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Which list was your favorite and why? Were there any additional lists you would've included during the month?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Emily Parks' Travel Tips

After 8 full weeks of counting down to Memorial Day with interviews highlighting the preferences and best practices of several superstars who travel quite frequently (Laura Doerre, Geralin Thomas, Coach Dave Clawson, Olalah Njenga, Natalie Perkins, Coach Jay Vidovich, David Glenn and Ashley Christensen), giving you tidbits about what works for them as well as takeaways to try for your next trip, I have been asked to share my own answers to those same questions. Therefore, today, I bring you my travel hacks:

Q: Do you travel mainly for business, pleasure or both?

A: Usually, I travel for business; however, I make it a point to incorporate some fun along the way, whether it's a concert, sporting event, sightseeing, trying a highly recommended restaurant or catching up with friends in the area.

Q: Do you prefer traveling via plane, train, boat or automobile?

A: I've never really tried traveling by train or boat, and I'm not a fan of driving; hence, I'd have to say plane. It takes me out of the driver's seat and lets me use that time however I choose.

Q: What is your favorite destination and why?

A: These days, my favorite destination city is a three-way tie between Nashville, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and San Antonio, Texas. For more on what I like best about those destinations, check out my "Top Ten Favorite Cities" blog post.

Q: What is your preference for airlines?

A: I prefer to fly on Southwest Airlines. It matters to me that they don't nickel and dime you with added fees for anything and everything you could want. When I buy a ticket from Southwest Airlines, it includes 2 checked bags as well as a complimentary beverage and snack; plus, there is no charge to make changes to my reservation as long as I stay within the same level of ticket purchase, like Wanna Get Away or Business Select. Further, I really like how the employees of Southwest Airlines seem to enjoy their jobs more than what I've experienced with employees of other airlines. They make flying more enjoyable overall!

Q: What is your preference for hotels or accommodations?

A: Although I take advantage of my memberships in loyalty programs for Hilton, Kimpton, Marriott and Starwood Hotels whenever possible, for me, it's more important to make sure I'm staying at a hotel that is convenient to what I'll be doing when in that city. Further, I look for accommodations that are clean, safe and include complimentary WiFi as much as I can.

Q: Do you book your own travel or prefer a travel agency?

A: I usually book my own travel. Between Expedia, Google Trips, Hopper, Skiplagged and each airline's or hotel's own app, there are so many tools to make booking my own travel easier, particularly empowering me to get the best deal while allowing me to travel whenever it works best for my own schedule restrictions. I like to travel at random times, like nights, so I can utilize all my daylight hours to their fullest, and I can finagle travel around my unique preferences most easily on my own. Still, if I'm looking for some help, the Lola app is an on-demand, personal travel service to assist me in booking flights, travel or whatever I might need.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for making the most of loyalty programs or points?

A: Know what is included in your membership because you can't utilize benefits about which you are unaware. For example, with the Starwood Preferred Guest program, I get complimentary in-room Internet access when I book through their websites or mobile app as well as complimentary in-room bottled water. Marriott Rewards provides complimentary in-room Internet access when I book direct through any of their own channels. Best yet, Kimpton Karma Rewards provides free WiFi, a "raid the bar" or happy hour option, in-room spa credit, the ability to maintain a record of my custom stay preferences and a complimentary room stay during my birthday month no matter how many credits I've accumulated towards a free night stay. Keep your email address on record with your account up-to-date so you can be notified of changes to your benefits or birthday rewards when they roll around.

Q: When flying, what do you ensure is in your carry-on?

A: It's important to me that all my tech tools (MacBook Air, iPad and iPhone) as well as corresponding charging cords are safely with me in my carry-on throughout my travels. I have a Leather Charger Roll Up from Mark And Graham that includes my ESP initials which I use to keep organized an extra cord and plug for my smartphone and tablet, earbuds and cord for charging my iPad keyboard; additionally, I have Zippered Cable Tie Wraps from Neet Products that protect each of my cords while keeping them securely rolled up. Beyond that, I like to have a printed magazine to peruse during takeoff and landing, an empty S'well® bottle that I can fill up as needed along the way, IMAK Compression Pain Relief Mask and Eye Pillow, my Total Pillow microbead portable pillow, extra cardigan or sweater, meds, BandAids, toothbrush and toothpaste.

Q: Do you keep an extra bag of toiletries packed?

A: Absolutely! It makes it so much simpler to ensure I don't forget any of my necessities, particularly for my skincare routine.

Q: How do you organize your time while on-the-go?

A: I've learned to do as much prep-work as possible beforehand, meaning I'll investigate what I want to accomplish before leaving Raleigh (restaurants where I want to eat, attractions to visit, details to cover during scheduled meetings) and note as much as possible in an Evernote notebook dedicated to that trip. Then, I put as many details as I can into my electronic calendar for all my commitments, whether for conference sessions, hotel / restaurant reservations or events to which I've purchased tickets.

Q: What tools or tactics do you use to keep your accommodations organized while traveling?

A: There seems to be a trend amongst hotels, especially those that haven't been updated recently, to not have enough electrical outlets, particularly near the bed where you need to easily access phones and tablets; therefore, I make sure to take my Audiovox multi-plug surge protector. Further, I pack with all the details of what outfits I'll wear in mind so, upon arrival at the hotel, I try to unpack quickly, hanging up my apparel with all elements of each outfit grouped together on the hangers. That way, I can more easily get ready each morning, grabbing all I need at once.

Q: Do you use technology to help stay productive and organized? If so, what's your favorite program, app, website or tech tool for surviving the chaos of daily life? And what's your favorite for being your best while traveling?

A: Very much so! My favorites for maintaining my sanity while traveling are Evernote, Calendar, The Weather Channel, Dialpad, Reminders and Morning Kit. Before leaving, I like PackPoint for helping make sure I pack whatever I'll need, and, while traversing the country, I prefer using Lyft or Citymapper for on-demand transportation. Meanwhile, I depend on AroundMe, CurEatDetour, Field Trip, Find. Eat. Drink., Offline, Peek, RootsRated, Spot, The Scoop, Time Out, and Viator to find the hidden gems no matter what is my destination. Finally, if I need a place to work, I peruse the local options via Breather, LiquidSpace and WeWork.

Q: Across all your travels, which restaurants did you enjoy most and why were they your favorites?

A: In Nashville, my friend Beth and I enjoyed a delicious Sunday brunch at Adele's, which is housed in the old Universal Tire Center; with my background in the automotive industry, I was enthused by reusing this old service center for such a nice restaurant. Then, in Pittsburgh, I joined fellow members of the National Association of Professional Organizers Deb and Kathy for an amazing dinner that exceeded expectations at the highly-recommended Butcher and the Rye, following which we were rescued from a downpour of rain by the wonderful Coach Jay Vidovich, which certainly made for a memorable experience as Kathy watched the dramatic storm coming our way while we ate outside. Finally, in San Antonio, my friend Heather and I enjoyed a tasty Italian meal while overlooking the beautiful riverfront along the sidewalk of the riverwalk. Overall, I find it much easier to associate magical memories with dining experiences since they incorporate so many of our senses, especially pairing incredible food with wonderful dining companions. For more on which restaurants I've liked best, check out my "Top Ten Favorite Restaurants" blog post.

Q: If you could have one super power to make traveling (or life in general) a little better, what would it be?

A: As I've always envied Dorothy's ability to click her heels together and immediately return home in The Wizard of Oz, I would love the super power of teleportation. Eliminate wasted time!

Readers, do your preferences mirror mine? Do you use any of the tools or hacks that I've learned over my many travels? Which tip do you plan to implement in the future?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Songs

Organize for Success® Turns 10 
In honor of 10 years of business for Organize for Success®, I have been posting a "top 10" list to this blog each day throughout the month of May, and this is the last in the anniversary blog series. The grand prize for celebrating Organize for Success, LLC's 10 years will be awarded tomorrow, randomly selecting from all those who commented on any of the month's "top 10" blog posts as well as those who have subscribed to my eNewsletter for a winner to receive downloads of all 5 eBooks, a pass for my Stress and Time Management online video course as well as a 60-minute, video conference productivity consultation.

I've left the most challenging of my lists to write for today, which is top 10 favorite songs. I am a huge fan of music, and my interests are far-ranging, from country to classic rock, top 40 to R&B and so many in between. Therefore, I can't really limit my favorite songs to a top 10, but here is a representative list of my favorites:

10. "Whatever It Is" by Zac Brown Band (2008) - I'm a big fan of Zac Brown Band's unique sound, particularly with this really chill song and how it excellently highlights Jimmy De Martini's fiddle skills alongside Zac's singing. Plus, this band puts on a great concert, whether in a large amphitheater or a small group of radio listeners in the Entercom Communications Greensboro studios.

9. "Only Wanna Be With You" by Hootie & The Blowfish (1994) - The entire Cracked Rear View album is outstanding from "Hold My Hand" to "Let Her Cry" to "Time" and everything in between, but "Only Wanna Be With You" is my favorite of this fabulous band's tunes. I even got to ring in 1996 with their New Year's Eve concert in downtown Winston-Salem! These days, I continue enjoying Darius Rucker's talents with songs like "Alright", "Come Back Song", "Don't Think I Don't Think About It", "Southern Style", "Wagon Wheel" and "If I Told You", the last of which has a distinctly Hootie feel to it. So many good sing-along songs!

8. "We Are The Champions" by Queen (1977) - My freshman year at East Forsyth High School, our football team won the state 4A championship, and this song became the team's celebratory anthem for the remainder of the year. Anytime I hear "We Are The Champions", I immediately flashback to the fun of that victory and all the ensuing celebrations throughout the year. Go, Eagles!

7. "Sweet Tea" by Cravin' Melon (1997) - This band out of Clemson, SC, takes me right back to my days at Wake Forest University, and, as a true southerner, this song speaks to my love of good, ol' sweet tea, especially the really sweet kind of sweet tea. It's hard to not sway and sing along as this upbeat tune plays.

6. "Hold On Loosely" by 38 Special (1981) - Although 38 Special's "Caught Up In You" follows closely behind, similarly to "Blinded by the Light" by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, I couldn't have a list of favorite songs without "Hold On Loosely". There's something to be said for a classic rock song that gets you singing and grooving along from the very first beat.

5. "Carolina In My Mind" by James Taylor (1968) - The home in which I grew up had a rather large yard, and, although I'm the six of seven siblings, most of my older siblings were out of the house when I was in middle school as well as my freshman and sophomore years in high school before we moved across town; thus, it fell upon me to mow all that grass. Each week, I'd put a cassette of James Taylor's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 into my Walkman, plug in my headphones and get to driving the lawn mower around. It was great! Although every song on that record is wonderful, I'm from the state of North Carolina so "Carolina In My Mind" has a special place in my heart and tops my list of favorites from JT.

4. "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk The Moon (2014) - One of my favorite things is finding catchy songs that my youngest nephew, Lucas, will dance and sing along with me. Initially, it was "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice, which Lucas told his mom "is Aunt Happy's song", but I think this happier alternative might've superseded that. We do alter the lyrics to "Come on and dance" since we aren't supposed to say "shut up", but it's still fun.

3. "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" by The Four Seasons (1975) - I am a fan of almost anything that Frankie Valli (lead singer of The Four Seasons) performs, hence why my friend Beth and I had to go see the Jersey Boys musical when it came to Durham Performing Arts Center; however, "December, 1963" is definitely my favorite. As soon as that opening beat starts, I can't help but want to start dancing; its energy is infectious.

2. "Not a Moment Too Soon" by Tim McGraw (1994) -  Technically, I could fill this entire list with Tim McGraw songs as he's my all-time favorite musical artist, and this same album had multiple hits ("Don't Take The Girl", "Down On The Farm", "Refried Dreams", "Indian Outlaw"); yet, "Not a Moment Too Soon" truly tops my list of Tim McGraw songs, even above "Felt Good On My Lips" that he and I sang together in Las Vegas as well as "Unbroken" that he serenaded me with in Charlotte. This song is hopeful, makes it easy to sing along and was perfect cruising the curves on Hopkins Road in Kernersville when it was first released.

1. "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang (1980) - There's a party in every playing of this song! As a child, I'd run around everywhere, singing and dancing to this tune, even if the music wasn't actually playing. I love the beat, I love the lyrics, I love how easy it is to sing along to this song, and I love dancing to it!

Bonus - I'd be remiss if I didn't specifically highlight a handful of the many tunes that are perfect for belting out while driving down the road and immediately beckon me to the dance floor with the opening beats of their music, like "Dancing On The Ceiling" by Lionel Richie, "No One" by Alicia Keys, "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire or "Summertime" by Will Smith. Actually, anything by those artists is pretty amazing, but I digress.

What is your favorite type of music? Which is your favorite song? Were you unfamiliar with any that I listed here?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top Ten Tips for Boosting Productivity with Technology

Organize for Success® Turns 10 
In honor of 10 years of business for Organize for Success®, I am continuing to post a "top 10" list to this blog each day through tomorrow. The grand prize for celebrating Organize for Success, LLC's 10 years will be awarded this Thursday, randomly selecting from all those who commented on any of the month's "top 10" blog posts as well as those who have subscribed to my eNewsletter for a winner to receive downloads of all 5 eBooks, a pass for my Stress and Time Management online video course as well as a 60-minute productivity consultation conducted over video conference.

Here are my top 10 tips for boosting productivity with technology:

10. Be proactive in protecting yourself. As outlined earlier this month, use two-factor authentication, choose private browsing when surfing the Internet, don't over-share on social media, protect your information, conduct online shopping wisely, create complex passwords you keep safe, protect your devices, monitor your accounts and know your credit scores.

9. Set others' expectations. If you don't provide those emailing you with an expectation for when they will hear back from you, they will determine the answer to be whatever they prefer. Reassure people that you have received their messages, alert them as to when you will be processing new emails rather than constantly checking your inbox and take control back over email.

8. Divide and conquer. Delegating to technology via automation is like cloning yourself; further, keep in mind that delete can be your friend, realizing that not everything needs to get done and how focusing your attention on what only you can do will boost your ability to get more of your priorities accomplished.

7. Master time-saving tricks where helpful. Whether you prefer PC or Mac, acquire complete knowledge of which keyboard shortcuts can best help in your day-to-day functions. Regularly consider where you can utilize text expansion via TextExpander, ActiveWordsPhrase Express or Alfred; likewise, make sure you are implementing automated organizers wherever you feel comfortable, like Hazel, DropIt or File Juggler. Techlicious offers some powerful options in this post, but think outside the box for more.

6. Be strategic about what tools you utilize. Follow Kenny Rogers' advice of "Know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em." Maximize the efficiency of what solutions you already own before trying something new; at the same time, know how to recognize when an outdated program is hurting your business so you can replace it and continue moving forward.

5. Learn all you can about tools you've chosen to implement. Consider saving time by bringing in a specialist for learning about, expanding use of or implementing your tech tools. Then, take advantage of the organizational tools built into the devices or operating systems you already have before looking to add new ones. Functions for calendaring, task management, note capture, contact database and more are often covered in smartphones, tablets and Mac computers so they sync even better.

4. Utilize the "power of one". Although Three Dog Night contended that "one is the loneliest number", I suggest that it can be the most productive, especially in regards to one calendar for personal and professional commitments, one running data dump of all tasks that funnels into one daily to-do list, one address book for all contacts' information, one set of naming conventions for all files, one place for all which you must remember, one weekly strategy session and one wrap-up per day.

3. Separate solutions when necessary. Your online file repository is not a cloud-based back-up solution. If you utilize Box, DEVONthink, Dropbox, eFileCabinet, Egnyte, Google Drive, SpiderOak or SugarSync, that does not alleviate your need to implement Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan or Mozy, too.

2. Turn off notifications. Especially when you are deep in thought on an important or urgent project, you need not waste time refocusing after a distraction, and all of those pings, dings and previews are distractions. Instead, schedule specific times to deep dive into processing your emails and social media.

1. Remove clutter. Keep only what is accurate, applicable, useful or bringing you joy, whether talking about paper, physical items, electronic files, email or time commitments. The less you have to dig through to find what's needed means less time wasted.

What is your favorite way to utilize technology? How have you found that to boost your productivity? Will you implement any of these tips?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Top Ten Tools to Be Healthier

Organize for Success® Turns 10 
In honor of 10 years of business for Organize for Success®, I will be posting a "top 10" list to this blog each day through Wednesday, May 31st. Each Sunday, my team will randomly select from those who commented on the prior week's "top 10" blog posts for a gift card giveaway and free download of one eBook via The grand prize for celebrating Organize for Success, LLC's 10 years will be awarded on Thursday, June 1st, randomly selecting from all those who commented on any of the month's "top 10" blog posts as well as those who have subscribed to my eNewsletter for a winner to receive downloads of all 5 eBooks, a pass for my Stress and Time Management online video course as well as a 60-minute video productivity consultation.

Rising temperatures often encourage healthier habits. As this is Memorial Day, I thought you'd want some tech tools to make it easier to adopt healthier habits. Here are my top 10 such tools:

10. App to Suggest Healthy Recipes - The ShopWell app is a great place to start as it helps you better understand the nutrition in what foods you are already eating or evaluate a product you are interested in eating while at the grocery store. Fooducate offers healthy alternatives to foods you love and empowers you to achieve your goals with recipes to eat better. With Foodfully, track what food you have in the fridge and craft your meals around what is closest to spoiling. By using a Real Plans subscription, you can choose from recipes suggested for your family's size, schedule and preferences or import your own recipes. Through a gatheredtable subscription, you can create customized weekly meal plans from the healthy recipes provided to meet every taste or diet requirement; then, create your grocery list from the indicated ingredients and choose if you'd like to schedule delivery of the necessary groceries. Or be inspired with recipes on Allrecipes, BigOvenEpicurious, Food Network, Real Simple and Yummly.

9. App to Save on Supplies for Recipes - Flipp lets you easily browse flyers for the brands you prefer, clip whatever you want directly to your shopping list and highlight deals that will save you even more; based on advertised prices and coupons, you will know how much your total will be before even entering the store. Every time you shop, Wallaby tells you which of your credit cards will maximize rewards, minimize interest and take advantage of special bonuses; plus, this tool tracks your spending data, alerting you to suspicious activity or increased spending. Both Ibotta and Shopkick will reward you for shopping with cash or gift cards, and Slice Drops will securely access your e-receipts to automatically request a refund whenever the price drops for something you bought.

8. Grocery Delivery Service - Sometimes, a hurdle to eating healthier is getting out to buy fresh fruits, veggies and lean proteins. If you shop at Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Lowes FoodsPublix or Safeway, your local grocery store might already offer the option of home delivery. Yet, the options don't end there. If you are in a market that has launched with Shipt or Instacart, there are additional options; plus, many metro areas have added Amazon Prime Now service, where your groceries can be delivered for free within about 2 ours of placing your order if you are a Prime subscriber. Alternatively, consider a concierge service; here in Raleigh, choose from Errand Girl, Metro's Other Woman or Sweeps.

7. Hand & Stone Mobile - Whether to alleviate certain areas of discomfort or rejuvenate from everyday stresses, expert massage therapists offer a service that is of huge benefit when aiming to live a healthier life. With Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa's mobile app, you can find a spa, book an appointment or simply learn more about massage services, which include Swedish, Deep Tissue, Sports, Hot Stone, Trigger Point and Pre-Natal options.

6. Sleep Cycle or Pzizz - The Sleep Cycle alarm clock tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up during your light sleep, which leads to awaking more naturally rested instead of waking during REM cycles. On the other hand, Pzizz allows you to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep more easily and wake up feeling refreshed.

5. App to Suggest Workouts - I'm a big fan of music so I like how Fit Radio pairs your workout to the perfect playlist for pace, goals and workout specifics. The Nike+ Training Club App lets you challenge yourself with 100+ workouts from Nike Trainers and athletes, including 15-minute options, so you can create the plan that works best for your needs. The Yoga Wake Up app delivers yoga audio sequences you can do from bed for an easier transition from sleep to be awake and alert. If you want to get started running, follow the Couch to 5K running plan to be ready for a 5K race within 2 months. If you already like to run or walk, Runkeeper provides a community with whom to set goals, track your workouts and stay motivated to see ongoing progress. Zova communicates with you as your personal trainer, combining all your workouts to five you a single score for staying on track to success. Additionally, there are plenty of subscription options you can access from anywhere via your mobile device. Tone It Up provides free, daily workouts and fitness tips. Aaptiv combines the motivating instruction of a personal trainer with playlists that match your preferences to keep you going. Pear Sports uses Performance Enhancing Audio Research to put a trusted voice in your ear that goes beyond tracking your workout data so you can make sense of your results, adjusting as needed for your goals. YogaGlo offers yoga and meditation classes online for all experience levels, styles, length of class, teacher preferences and interest.

4. Meditation App - The top-rated app for making mediation simpler is often Calm, which gives each day a keyword to fuel your meditations towards your goals for breathing, sleeping and boosting overall relaxation. The Headspace app teaches you to meditate in 10 minutes a day over a 10 day stretch. Then, designed by a team of Harvard psychologists and meditation experts, Simple Habit meditations are 5 minutes and personalized for all kinds of life situations, which more easily empowers continuing this new skill. Both the Buddhify and OMG I Can Meditate apps work cross-platform to provide meditation options for any location or experience, tracking your results each time your designated device is connected to the Internet. A subscription to the Gaia app lets you stream over 7,000 exclusive videos, all of which are designed to boost your consciousness. Finally, the suite of applications from Meditation Oasis offers various options designed to meet many different goals.

3. Workout App for Folks with Limited Time - Time is a very limited resource, and you might need to adjust your tools for getting moving based off the amount of time you have available. Seven offers short workouts that will dramatically improve your well-being using nothing more than a chair, a wall or your own body weight. Likewise, 7 Minute Workout Challenge app is another app designed with your busy life in mind, providing a different portfolio of workouts that provide results when you are short on time. Sworkit offers fitness options that match a wide variety of interests, including options that are as short as 7 minutes.

2. Sweat - The largest female fitness community offers resistance, cardio and recovery workouts to be done anytime and anywhere, like 28-minute workouts that fit into super-busy schedules. Plus, it offers meal plans with weekly shopping lists and provides healthier options for foods you like best. Choose from weekly, quarterly and package subscription options with a community to support you.

1. MyFitnessPal - This app offers a free calorie counter for tracking all that you eat. Coupled with a record of all your physical activity that shows how many calories are burned by each movement, it helps folks lose weight the good, old-fashioned, healthy way, burning more calories than consumed.

With which areas of your life do you struggle most to be healthy? What is your favorite tool to aid in your efforts at healthfulness? Are you going to try any of those listed here?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Movies

Organize for Success® Turns 10 
In honor of 10 years of business for Organize for Success®, I will be posting a "top 10" list to this blog each day through Wednesday, May 31st. Each Sunday, my team will randomly select from those who commented on the prior week's "top 10" blog posts for a gift card giveaway and free download of one eBook via The grand prize for celebrating Organize for Success, LLC's 10 years will be awarded on Thursday, June 1st, randomly selecting from all those who commented on any of the month's "top 10" blog posts as well as those who have subscribed to my eNewsletter for a winner to receive downloads of all 5 eBooks, a pass for my Stress and Time Management online video course as well as a 60-minute video productivity consultation.

As we're in Memorial Day weekend, I thought you might want some inspiration for movies in the instance that your cookout is washed out with rain. Therefore, here are my top 10 favorite movies:

10. A League of Their Own (1992) - Set during World War II when all the men are fighting the war, two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry. The female baseball players are endearing while Tom Hanks' character is the perfect compliment, especially as he explains that "There's no crying in baseball."

9. Sex and the City 2 (2010) - Whenever Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha come together, it's an ideal reminder of how strong friendships can be and how great it is to have friends who are so different from one another. I specify the second Sex and the City movie as it features both Chris Noth as Mr. Big as well as John Corbett as Aidan, and that is certainly all the better.

8. The Longest Ride (2015) - This movie deliciously juxtaposes the world of bull-riding with the world of those appreciating modern art, weaving in romance and action alike. It stars Scott Eastwood, son of Clint Eastwood, and was partially filmed at my alma-mater of Wake Forest University. Plus, I'm a huge fan of its ending!

7. Remember the Titans (2000) - Based on the actual events of 1971, this is the story of a newly appointed, African-American coach and his high school football team during their first season as a racially-integrated unit, starring the wonderful Denzel Washington. This is an empowering example of the impact high school football programs have bringing together their communities.

6. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) - Anne Hathaway plays a smart but sensible new graduate who lands a job as an assistant to Miranda Priestly, the demanding editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine who is played brilliantly by Meryl Streep. There are countless leadership and business lessons shared throughout.

5. Hidden Figures (2016) - This is the true story of a team of female, African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA early on in the U. S. space program as we raced against Russia to put a man in space. Great music and amazing acting from an all-star cast (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Coster, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst) simply illuminate an inspiring story. It's empowering to see these females fight for opportunity and restores hope to see folks like Costner's character stand up for them getting the chances they deserved.

4. The Sound of Music (1965) - I find it absolutely impossible to watch this movie without at least singing along if not dancing, too. A woman played by the amazing talented Julie Andrews leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the seven children of a Naval officer widower, who is played by Christopher Plummer. I prefer the movie script to that of the musical play, but the music is undeniably perfect wherever and whenever. Additionally, as 1 of 7 siblings, I can nicely connect with the craziness of a large family.

3. Love & Basketball (2000) - Starting when a young Monica moves in next door to a young Quincy in 1981, this script follows their love-hate relationship from that point, when they are 11 years old, all the way through their intertwined lives of high school, college and professional basketball. Omar Epps is fantastic as Quincy while Sanaa Lathan plays Monica perfectly. Throughout their story, it's awesome to see the powerful impact of even the smallest details and interactions, in both long- and short-run.

2. Dirty Dancing (1987) - Set in 1963, this is the story of how Frances "Baby" Houseman stopped being a sweet, daddy's girl when she was taught to dance by the instructor named Johnny at a resort in upstate New York where her family had its summer vacation. I spent countless hours watching this movie over and over in my basement growing up, recreating the fabulous final dance for Baby with Johnny because, of course, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." It's heart-breaking that Patrick Swayze passed away before a sequel could be created, particularly as Swayze was an outstanding dancer who happened to be a good actor, too.

1. Sweet Home Alabama (2002) - In this movie, a young woman who has reinvented herself as a brilliant fashion designer based in New York must return home to Alabama to obtain a divorce from her husband after seven years of separation. Reese Witherspoon does an excellent job of conveying an independent heroine torn between the past that created her and the future she has created. Although she can't go wrong choosing between Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas, it becomes clear throughout the movie how the person Lucas' character has made of himself is such a perfect fit for nurturing all aspects of Witherspoon's evolving character. As the witty refrain is shared, "You can have roots and wings."

What is your favorite movie and why? Are you going to check out any of these you've not yet seen?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Automobiles

Organize for Success® Turns 10 
In honor of 10 years of business for Organize for Success®, I will be posting a "top 10" list to this blog each day through Wednesday, May 31st. Each Sunday, my team will randomly select from those who commented on the prior week's "top 10" blog posts for a gift card giveaway and free download of one eBook via The grand prize for celebrating Organize for Success, LLC's 10 years will be awarded on Thursday, June 1st, randomly selecting from all those who commented on any of the month's "top 10" blog posts as well as those who have subscribed to my eNewsletter for a winner to receive downloads of all 5 eBooks, a pass for my Stress and Time Management online video course as well as a 60-minute video productivity consultation.

Today, we'll cover my top 10 favorite vehicles:

10. 1926 Ford Model T - Generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the Model T launched assembly line production. Plus, it's got a fun nickname in the Tin Lizzie! I lean towards the '26-'27 version because I prefer its wheels, but each produced from October 1908 to March 1927 is special.

9. 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air - With the 1953 model year, the Bel Air name was changed from a designation for the 2-door hardtops to a premium trim level; I specify 1957 as my fave for its distinctive lines on the side and adding continuous mechanical fuel injection.

8. 1963 Rambler American - The first dealership my dad owned was Ideal Rambler so this make of vehicle definitely has a place in my heart. 1963 was the last of the American's second generation, a beautiful, compact, classic car, especially in this red.

7. 1965 Shelby Cobra CSX - Carroll Shelby had the right idea behind a performance car that looks like it should be racing but can be driven by the every-man on any road with wind blowing your hair and sun on your face.

6. 1970 MG MGB-GT - One of my dearest friends in high school had a knack for fixing up old cars, and my absolute favorite of all he did was this 1970 MGB hard top in fire engine red. Alas, this classic roadster is available only as manual transmission.

5. 1968 Corvette Stingray - This third generation of Corvette's iconic sports car was both gorgeous and offered advanced performance. I've loved learning about it through my Triad Corvette Club friends!

4. 1993 Mazda MX-3 - When I first got my license, it was a little delayed as I'd always been able to get a ride from friends who lived nearby, but this was the vehicle that gave me independence. How fitting it was the same purple as Barney after I'd watched so many episodes baby-sitting my nephew!

3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - I am a firm believer that everyone needs a pick-up truck for hauling stuff, and the Silverado is hands-down the best truck, especially the double cab with Z71 Off-Road Suspension.

2. 2000 Mazda Miata - After college graduation, I got a forest green Miata with tan, leather interior and soft-top convertible. This sweet ride is at one with the road and hugs all the curves!

1. 2016 Chevrolet Trax - My current ride is perfect for me. It is compact enough but still has plenty of room for all I need; the leather seats are heated, it includes a sunroof for cruising with my music blaring, Wi-Fi is built-in, and I can control Siri from the steering wheel.

Which is your favorite car, truck, van, crossover or SUV? Why do you like that particular make or model best?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Business Leaders

Organize for Success® Turns 10 
In honor of 10 years of business for Organize for Success®, I will be posting a "top 10" list to this blog each day through Wednesday, May 31st. Each Sunday, my team will randomly select from those who commented on the prior week's "top 10" blog posts for a gift card giveaway and free download of one eBook via The grand prize for celebrating Organize for Success, LLC's 10 years will be awarded on Thursday, June 1st, randomly selecting from all those who commented on any of the month's "top 10" blog posts as well as those who have subscribed to my eNewsletter for a winner to receive downloads of all 5 eBooks, a pass for my Stress and Time Management online video course as well as a 60-minute video productivity consultation.

Today, let's discuss my top 10 favorite business leaders:

10. Mary T. Barra - Having been General Motors' CEO since January 15, 2014, Ms. Barra is remaking the company's culture in order to keep pace in the race to reinvent transportation. I'm continually impressed with how well Ms. Barra stays ahead of all the changes happening in society while empowering employees, valuing customers' wants as much as their needs and pushing for profitability. As Ms. Barra says, "If we win the hearts and minds of employees, we're going to have better business success."

9. Jeff Bezos - As the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Amazon, the world's largest online shopping retailer, as well as founder of Blue Origin aerospace and owner of The Washington Post newspaper, Mr. Bezos is an excellent example of how "we can't rest on our laurels" and frequently shares insights from the ongoing evolution of his businesses as well as himself. Currently the third richest person in the world, Mr. Bezos believes "A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person; you earn reputation by trying to do hard things well," showing that our work is never done developing.

8. Warren Buffett - Widely considered one of the most successful investors in the world, Mr. Buffett is a business magnate, investor and philanthropist who regularly displays humility as the public asks for what lessons he's learned across his many successes. Mr. Buffett is Chairman and CEO of Berkshire-Hathaway, where he leads the company and its team members to continually evolve while upholding ethics to be admired." As he's stated, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it; if you think about that, you'll do things differently."

7. Ashley Christensen - My sophomore year in high school, Ms. Christensen served as our student body president, filling her role as a strong leader from the very beginning; however, this Kernersville native has come a long way in the years since graduating from East Forsyth High School. Beyond being the chef + proprietor for six different restaurants, Ms. Christensen fosters community through food, philanthropy and the stimulation of Raleigh's downtown neighborhood. Exhibiting keen work-life integration skills, Ms. Christensen is active with a number of local and regional charities while excelling at providing such amazing food and beverages that she's regularly highlighted nationally and was awarded the very prestigious James Beard award for "Best Chef: Southeast" in 2014.

7. Melinda Gates - According to Town & Country Magazine, Kappa Alpha Theta has the most celebrity alums, and we are proud to count Ms. Gates among our ranks from the Beta Rho chapter at Duke University. As co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Gates honorably fills the philanthropist role by empowering the next generation with access to quality healthcare and a great education. In September 2016, Ms. Gates announced her desire to begin working on the unbelievably important issue of the lack of women in technology by saying, "We're graduating fewer women technologists; that is not good for society, and we have to change it." I find Ms. Gates inspiring, saying we must "get comfortably being uncomfortable" to achieve our greatest success.

6. Arianna Huffington - In 2016, Ms. Huffington stepped down from her role as editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, an American journalism company that she founded, choosing to devote her time to Thrive Global, which focuses on health and wellness information. Ms. Huffington's message that we need to sleep better in order to achieve greater success resonates with me and has prompted me to focus more on getting better nights' sleep, although I'm still a work in progress. As Ms. Huffington reassures and empowers us all, "Fearlessness is like a muscle. The more I exercise it the more natural it becomes not to let my fears run me."

5. Gayle King - More than simply Oprah Winfrey's best friend, Ms. King is an inspiration for "keeping it real", whether co-anchoring CBS This Morning, serving as editor-at-large for O Magazine or emceeing special events. As Ms. King explains, "There's always going to be somebody who people perceive can do the job that you're doing, and you can't get hung up on that; I have always decided I'm just going to do the best me, do the best job that I can do, so that, at the end of the day, I don't have any regrets about my performance." I can relate to Ms. King describing herself as inquisitive, asking questions to understand better and learn more.

3. Coach Gregg Popovich - Like any company, a successful sports team needs strong leadership, and I believe Coach Popovich is the absolute best NBA basketball coach, exemplified by his multiple NBA Coach of the Year awards and championships. Each year, the San Antonio Spurs players trust Coach Popovich completely, looking to him for winning game plans and depending on him to see what each player's greatest attributes can be for the overall team's greatest success. Coach Popovich trains his teams to pass the ball more on each possession than any of their opponents, building trust between teammates, encouraging communication and requiring each player to dedicate himself 100% to the specific role that Coach Popovich assigns each individual on the team.

2. Kip Tindell - For each of the last 17 years in Mr. Tindell's 38-year tenure as The Container Store's CEO, he led the company to Fortune's Best Place to Work list, fostering a progressive corporate culture where everyone associated with the business can thrive together. As The Container Store's founder, Mr. Tindell brought to life this amazing concept of a store to fulfill folks' needs for an eclectic mix of bins, boxes, racks, shelves and tools, all exceptional quality that more easily enables the organizing process.

1. Cindy Whitehead - Although you may recall Ms. Whitehead as the Former CEO of Sprout Pharma who created Addyi (the women's libido-enhancing drug often referred to as "the female Viagra") before selling the company for an incredible $1 billion, her newest venture of The Pink Ceiling is an exciting combination of VC fund, incubator and consulting firm, which is based right here in Raleigh, NC, and recently added a membership service based out of North Hills and known as the Pinkubator. With first-hand experience of how misunderstandings can become truths, Ms. Whitehead proactively works to the betterment of each client, regularly exhibiting her genuine care for each client's greatest success, and she's truly dedicated to her team's partnership with each client.

Bonus - Former President Barack Obama - Over his 8 years as the United States of America's 44th president, he led our country to many powerful lessons on leadership while representing us honorably throughout the world. Former President Obama encouraged Americans to be optimistic while not forgetting the long view, lived his viewpoint that nothing is accomplished alone as he built and utilized a strong team, empowered us to stay with the times while being forward-thinking and advised us to get neither overwhelmed nor comfortable with making big decisions.

Who are your favorite leaders? What is it about those folks you admire, are impressed by or want to emulate?