By: Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz & Gaëlle Marti January 17,2017
By: Nina Zipkin
As a young entrepreneur who says her mission is to help others reach their potential, Caroline Ghosn understands the link between happiness and doing work that is of value. Ghosn is the founder and CEO of Levo, an online hub dedicated to helping millennials build and grow their careers by providing tips, tools, mentorship and networking opportunities. We caught up with Ghosn to talk about how to achieve peak productivity and meet your goals head on. Here are her seven tips to reach your goals.
- Write everything down.
Don’t hold on to every plan, thought or feeling in your brain. You will get stressed out just trying to remember everything.
“What makes people feel anxious and unproductive is that loop,” she says. “You can have hundreds of those going on at once and it can be completely distracting.” Simply writing down what you want to accomplish will free up space to focus on what is most important, Ghosn says.
- Make a plan.
“It is never wasted time. You’re actually making the rest of your day productive by spending 30 minutes reviewing your to-do’s, prioritizing them and ruthlessly removing things that shouldn’t be there,” Ghosn says. She recommends structuring your to-do list with actionable items — only those things that start with a verb. If it takes only a few minutes to do, just do the task right away. Create lists around a single theme or intention.
- Put social media away.
“Actually remove those tabs from your computer and phone,” Ghosn says. Turn off notifications so you don’t feel the urge to check your social media accounts and lose your concentration and momentum. Uninterrupted work time is key. In a survey conducted by Levo and Microsoft, Ghosn noted that respondents identified social media as the number one distraction.
- Block off your calendar.
Ghosn recommends dividing your day into several sections — for example, one dedicated to catching up on correspondence and meetings, another to plan out your to-do list and a third to execute on those tasks. “They all require very different mindsets and they should be separated as such,” she says.
- Find out when you are most productive.
“I used to think I was a night owl,” Ghosn says. “I realized I’m not because I have energy at night but I’m not as focused and productive when I try to get things done.” She recommends figuring out where and when you are most engaged and excited to work and use those times to tackle the most important items on your list. In the survey, 38 percent of those polled reported that the mid-morning was their most productive time period, followed by the early morning. Only 1 percent said that their mind was the sharpest during the lunch hour.
- Remember that it is OK to fumble.
“When you experience difficulty at work or in your life, instead of looking back on it as something that was really challenging, look at it and ask yourself, ‘what wisdom did I learn from that?'” Ghosn says. “It’s approaching it with gratitude vs. bitterness or negativity, and it allows you to be better.” You can learn from every mistake and use it to motivate you rather than blame yourself or give up something that is important to you.
- Check in with yourself.
Ghosn recommends doing a weekly review and checking off what you achieved and giving yourself credit for even the most incremental wins. “Take the time to close the loop with your brain,” she says, “and affirm that you did a great job.”
By: Rob Biederman January 29, 2015
If only half of startups survive more than five years and only one-third make it to 10, what’s the one thing you could do to ensure your company is sustainable? The answer is to create a growth strategy for your business, of course. A growth strategy involves more than simply envisioning long-term success. If you don’t have a tangible plan, you’re actually losing business — or you’re increasing the chance of losing business to competitors. The key with any growth strategy is to be deliberate. Figure out the rate-limiting step in your growth, and pour as much fuel on the fire as possible. But for this to be beneficial, you need to take the following steps:
- Establish a value proposition.
For your business to sustain long-term growth, you must understand what sets it apart from the competition. Identify why customers come to you for a product or service. What makes you relevant, differentiated and credible? Use your answer to explain to other consumers why they should do business with you. For example, some companies compete on “authority” — Whole Foods Market is the definitive place to buy healthy, organic foods. Others, such as Walmart, compete on price. Figure out what special benefit only you can provide, and forget everything else. If you stray from this proposition, you’ll only run the risk of devaluing your business.
- Identify your ideal customer.
You got into business to solve a problem for a certain audience. Who is that audience? Is that audience your ideal customer? If not, who are you serving? Nail down your ideal customer, and revert back to this audience as you adjust business to stimulate growth.
- Define your key indicators.
Changes must be measurable. If you’re unable to measure a change, you have no way of knowing whether it’s effective. Identify which key indicators affect the growth of your business, then dedicate time and money to those areas. Also, A/B test properly — making changes over time and comparing historical and current results isn’t valid.
- Verify your revenue streams.
What are your current revenue streams? What revenue streams could you add to make your business more profitable? Once you identify the potential for new revenue streams, ask yourself if they’re sustainable in the long run. Some great ideas or cool products don’t necessarily have revenue streams attached. Be careful to isolate and understand the difference.
- Look to your competition.
No matter your industry, your competition is likely excelling at something that your company is struggling with. Look toward similar businesses that are growing in new, unique ways to inform your growth strategy. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Ask yourself why your competitors have made alternate choices. Are they wrong? Or are your businesses positioned differently? The assumption that you’re smarter is rarely correct.
- Focus on your strengths.
Sometimes, focusing on your strengths — rather than trying to improve your weaknesses — can help you establish growth strategies. Reorient the playing field to suit your strengths, and build upon them to grow your business.
- 7. Invest in talent.
Your employees have direct contact with your customers, so you need to hire people who are motivated and inspired by your company’s value proposition. Be cheap with office furniture, marketing budgets and holiday parties. Hire few employees, but pay them a ton. The best ones will usually stick around if you need to cut back their compensation during a slow period.
Developing a growth strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. In fact, due to changing market conditions, making strategic decisions based on someone else’s successes would be foolish. That’s not to say that you can’t learn from another company, but blindly implementing a cookie-cutter plan won’t create sustainable growth. You need to adapt your plan to smooth out your business’s inefficiencies, refine its strengths and better suit your customers — who could be completely different than those from a vague, one-size-fits-all strategy. Your company’s data should lend itself to all your strategic decisions. Specifically, you can use the data from your key indicators and revenue streams to create a personalized growth plan. That way, you’ll better understand your business and your customers’ nuances, which will naturally lead to growth.
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