Is it getting hard to focus?

Based on a completely unreliable, unscientific set of observational data gleaned from #socialmedia, we’ve noticed (and heard during phone calls) that many people who are suddenly forced to work from home (or who are used to working from home, and have had partners or offspring thrust into the mix) are having trouble with focus. 

Steve and I have been working with clients for nearly twenty years, helping them focus on what’s important when they are surrounded by irrelevant data and daily distractions. Here are a few tips that will help you get some real work done:

  1. Get dressed. OK, maybe you don’t need a suit and tie. But schedule at least one early and one later-in-the-day video call, to incentivize yourself to “dress up and show up”.
  2. Make a list of things you want to get done, then prioritize. Get it down to ONE. If you can do this one thing, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something. Then start it. When you’re done, reprioritize based on current information, and start again.
  3. Work in short spurts of about 25 minutes (read up on the pomodoro technique). In between, get some oxygen – go out on your balcony or stride around the room, just get air for a minute or two. In between, give yourself two minutes, no more, for one of the following.
  • Schedule two minutes for news and social media consumption – endless scrolling, scrolling, scrolling might have been amusing last week, but if this is our new modus operandi for a month or more, that will get old, PDQ.
  • Read something that is business-y, but unrelated to your vertical or domain, and then figure out the connection.
  • Drink a big glass of water. 

And every time, before you sit down to work again, please, wash your hands. 

Stay safe out there, people. Keep your distance. Don’t touch me, and I won’t touch you. If you need help with your business, or planning a new one, let me know. You can also find us on Twitter:  Steve or Megann. We’re also on LinkedIn or Facebook. Under the Store tab, you can join a MasterMind group or explore coaching with us. Or you can just wait for news to arrive in your inbox, on Friday afternoons. (Just in case you’ve lost track of what day it is). 

Good Career, Bad Career…

Have you received advice that starts like this?

“All you need to do”
“You just…”
“You only have to”

Me, too. I also get requests all the time for advice on how to live the life I do – unapologetically mine, in line with my values and priorities. And many of the people who ask those questions, are looking for answers that start with one of those three phrases. What’s the problem with that? Only this: having a great career is no easier than having a bad career. Both are work. Hard work. The good news, is that the work is worth it, if you get to have a rewarding, rich life along the way. And it’s important to realize that every day won’t be sunshine and lollipops.
The truth is, no life is ever easy. We will all have struggles and setbacks. Every overnight success story has many, many steps and stumbles that led to that moment of achievement that everyone gets to see. In the world of the striver, there are always many people watching every wobble along the way…some cheering, some jeering, and some just wondering when they will just give up. 

“I wish I could work for myself like you do,” they say. “Then I’d be in control of everything.”

If you’re embarking on a journey with the vision of never being accountable to anyone else, let me let you in on one of life’s big secrets. It’s very likely at some point, that your vision is going come to a screeching halt. (Unless you want to live in a cave, on a mountaintop. In that case, have at it.)  You can be the pilot of your own destiny, that much is absolutely certain. However even the most powerful individuals in the world have responsibilities and commitments to others. Most of us want a richer, fuller life, that lets us be more, give more, share more, and enjoy more. We want to have time with our kids, or our partners, or to serve in our communities. We want to be secure in the knowledge that there will be food on the table. And we want to know that we’re able to contribute our best work, every day.

Living the life that you choose means you must make choices about where to invest your time, talent, and resources. That part isn’t a choice. It’s an obligation. To be everything you want, you can’t always do everything you want. Sometimes things won’t go your way. Families, partners, collaborators, and customers all want different things from me, and sometimes all at once. And they will from you, as well. The one thing I’ve learned (and you can, too), is that I must choose how to handle those requests. And I can live with that. Can you?

Megann Willson is one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA, where we help you see everything you need to know to make better decisions for your business and career. Need more advice? Subscribe below, and follow on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for fresh content daily.


3 Powerful Words and 2 Ways to Use Them

This is a re-blog of Megann’s post on LinkedIn in October 2017. She was preparing for an incredible journey, running for City Council. She didn’t win the election, but she learned so much, and grew her network by leaps and bounds. And that’s a prize in itself.

“I believe you.” Have you ever experienced how much of a relief those three words are, when you’re surrounded by doubters? How you might not have even realized how much their negativity was weighing on you? At that moment, you don’t even need the supporter to do something to help the situation. They’ve done enough by simply acknowledging your truth. Many of us have experienced the empowering sensations that those three words can elicit.

What you might not have considered, is that this tiny but powerful message is also a tool you can use, two different ways. The obvious, is when it seems someone close to you is getting a lot of negative pushback on their idea, their opinion, or their statement of a situation. If what they are saying is reasonable, plausible, and they’ve given you no reason in the past to doubt their words, this is a time when you can firm the bonds of your relationship by simply using those three small words. You can do it very publicly, or you can do it quietly. Either way, believing is a valuable gift you can give someone.

The other way you can use “I believe you” is much less common. I recommend you use the statement on yourself. When you know you are right, or you have an important message to deliver, or you’re worried how your truth will be received because it might fly in the face of common practice, get yourself to a mirror. State your case. Look yourself deeply in the eye, and say it. “I believe you”. Say it until you do believe you. The results will be worth it. Believe me.

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Founders and Partners here at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to know, to build better, stronger businesses. If you’re looking for more practical, usable business advice, check us out on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. While you’re at it, Subscribe Here for regular updates and offers. And if you’d like to explore upcoming business coaching opportunities, call me. 

You’ll Never Change!

Change ahead arrow
Never say never! Maybe you’ve tried starting a business or changing careers before, and it hasn’t worked out. Or maybe you’ve considered it, but talked yourself out of it because of your responsibilities, the risks, the time involved…who knows? One thing is for sure, unless you approach it with a plan of action, just like any other business endeavour, you’re doomed. The first part of the plan is to figure out what kind of chance you want to make. Here are five tips to get you started on the right path again:
  1. Envision the future. Give yourself a long runway, maybe five years. Where would you like to be? What will you be doing? Who’s with you? What’s your message? Who’s listening? Painting a clear, detailed picture will let you get a handle on what you want and need from the change. This will help you focus on what you’ll get, and that’s important to keep yourself going when the hard parts of the change begin (because they will).
  2. How did you get there? Look backward from the success you’ve achieved. What skills or talents did you use to get there? These are the tools in your toolkit that you want to use. It’s important to know whether you’ve got everything you need – or whether you’ll need to build regular learning into the picture. (Hint: if you’re not learning and stretching, you’re not thinking big enough – and it won’t feel like you’ve changed anything when you arrive).
  3. Why did you want to go in the first place? Author Simon Sinek recommends that you start with “why”, and then work on what and how – but sometimes it’s difficult to get your brain around the motivation before you figure out what it is that you are motivated to do. If you’d rather start with the purpose, because you already know you want to educate kids or save kittens, go for it. Start here, then backtrack to Step One.
  4. If you tried before, what didn’t work? Don’t do that. Seriously, evaluate what it was about your first effort that failed. You’ve probably done plenty of thinking about that already. Now figure out the actions and attitudes that did work – and work on those. You’ll get a much clearer picture of actions that were helpful and harmful than you had, the last time.
  5. If you’ve never tried, start now. Honestly, start anywhere. Work on your business model. Interview some people in your ideal role. Profile a customer. It doesn’t matter. As soon as you break them logjam and start moving toward the change you’ve been looking for, you’ll start to pick up momentum. Make time to commit to a few steps every day, and just keep going. Eventually, it will all come together. Just dreaming about it won’t get you anywhere.

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Founding Partners here at PANOPTIKA. Are you experiencing a specific challenge with your new business, or your dream business? Let’s talk. We help our clients find, know, and keep customers – so they can build strong businesses that stand the test of time. You can find more advice from us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. Subscribe using the button below for special news and offers from us. 

Are you looking in the wrong place for success?

You made it! You’re on top of the world. But this isn’t where the learning happens.

Think about the most important lessons you’ve learned. Did they happen when at the moment you achieved your goal? More likely, they happened afterward, as you reflected on your struggle. You may have even had a richer learning experience when you didn’t achieve your goal. Think about all those “I’ll never make that mistake again” moments you’ve had. Win or learn, mistakes, failures, and struggles mean you will enter into the next challenge stronger and more able to deal with the difficulties you may face.

What does this tell me? That each roadblock or difficulty prepares you to be even better next time. That the reward for the journey is the journey itself. And that you’ll gain experience and confidence, no matter which path you take, or no matter how everything turns out. Now that’s something to be on top of the world about.

Take Your Time!

Planner and clock

Do you have a long list of things you want to do, and never enough time to get them all done? Here’s how to get control of your calendar. Take your time!
No, I don’t mean slowing down, although that can be helpful if you use the time to plan, prioritize, and jettison unhelpful commitments. I’m talking about making sure you take the time back, that others want to take from you. That unwieldy list of meetings? Ask for an agenda, and figure out whether there is something you need to learn or contribute. If your presence is simply to be another “warm body” in the room, you may be better off using your time and talent elsewhere. And what about those well-meaning colleagues, neighbours, or friends, who just want “a couple of minutes”, when you’ve scheduled time to work on an important project, or study, or follow through on some other commitment you’ve made to yourself or others? This is truly a time when you need to take [back] your time. Make sure you have a polite response ready, such as “I’ve made a commitment to work on something right now. Can I call/email you when I’m done?” or “I’m working to a deadline at the moment – let me put some time in my calendar for you for when I’m finished, so I can give you my full attention.”
Your time is valuable, as are your commitments to yourself and others. You owe it to yourself to take the time you’ve allocated. Remember: someone else’s lack of planning doesn’t need to be your emergency.

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the partners and founders here at PANOPTIKA. Steve Willson and I can work with you to get your priorities straight, giving you more time to find, understand, and keep the customers that will help you build your business and make more money. When you can see everything, you’ll make better decisions. For more ideas, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. And if you’d like a power-packed message directly from us, every week, sign up below.


What happens when your change methods seem like madness?

Change is hard, especially in organizations, and many people don’t want it, or at least they don’t want the discomfort that often seems to accompany it. If you’re brought in to be an agent for change, there are typically two paths that will get you there – evolution (which feels cumbersome and slow) or revolution (which is frequently accompanied by destruction, creative or otherwise, pain, and even some suffering).

If you are in a hurry to make things happen, one cause of pain is  having the right intention, but taking action in a way that makes that action seem more sinister than necessary. How do you remove a Band-Aid? Ripping it off can be hurtful and unsettling, but taking time to prepare the team (“this might sting a little, but it’s going to heal better once we put a fresh dressing on there”) lets them in on your thinking a little, and allows them to focus on the outcome, not just the action. On the other hand, telling them everything will be painless and then making the change with a “rrrrrip!” creates distrust, confusion, and fear. Fear and confusion breed questions like:
  • Don’t they care about our feelings?
  • I didn’t see that coming! Were they being truthful when they said I didn’t have to worry?
  • If change can just happen no matter what the circumstances…what if I’m next?

As a changemaker, your instincts may tell you to get things done quickly so your initiatives don’t stall; that’s valid. Taking a little extra time to set the stage and “p-reinforce” the benefits, though, will help you fix the situation without leaving any scars.

5 Tips to Shut Down the Meeting Room Bully

Stop Bullying Now
​Have you ever been in a meeting, where one person takes over the agenda, commandeers the conversation, and virtually sucks the energy and oxygen out of the room? Sometimes you can be so taken aback, that you don’t even know how to fight. Here are some tips that may come in handy:

  1.  Stare them down. Just like when a two-year-old is throwing a tantrum. Sometimes if everyone simply stops and silently waits, the lack of attention will cut their tirade off at the knees.
  2. Circle the wagons. If they have decided to target an individual and are in attack mode, ignore the bully, but address as many supportive comments as you can to the targeted person.
  3. Keep your buts to yourself. “But” is a signal that you’re not listening, just waiting to interject. It is the same tactic the bully may use. Instead, try “I hear you, and I also think…” 
  4. Take another way home. Sometimes you can’t shut the bully down, but you can work around them and isolate the path to your goal from their negative influence. Eventually they will get the message, or sulk off to their own corner.
  5. The last one, we credit to Megann’s grandfather. Don’t start a fight,  but if they do, stand up for yourself and fight to win. Then walk away.

If you have some boardroom bullies, some negative nitwits, or scared smarties in your office, you may also enlist the help of a professional facilitator. We’d be happy to help.

I’m Megann Willson, and together with my Partner, Steve Willson, we’re PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to see everthing they need to know (and nothing extraneous) about their customers so they can grow their businesses and make more money. You can find us here, or if you like the blog but forget to check in, you can subscribe. You can also find us on Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn. Did you find this useful? We’d be grateful if you’