By KIM GARST
When you find yourself with an unexpected pocket of time it’s all too easy to fritter it away by checking email or playing the latest mindless game on your phone. Sitting in a parking lot or waiting for someone who is late to an appointment can turn into an opportunity for productivity if you’re ready for it.
Of course checking email and popping in on Social Media can be productive and help you knock some things off the to-do list. But let’s face it, sometimes email or Facebook is a convenient excuse to avoid doing other things that would move you towards your goals.
To take advantage of those small segments of time, get prepared ahead of time. Here is an idea to help you get started:
1) Make a list of things that take less than 15 minutes to do. You can probably come up with twenty or thirty items for this list.
What sorts of things should you put on this list? Here are some examples:
· Brainstorm blog post ideas
· Call a hotel to make reservations for an upcoming trip
· Listen to voicemail
· Write a thank you note
Put “Read” on your list, too. Whether you’re reading a physical book or a digital book on your reading device, you can take advantage of the minutes. Fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there, and before you know it, you’ll have read a whole book. I seldom have time to sit down and read for hours—most of my reading is done in small snatches of time. Audiobooks and audio training count here, too.
2) Gather the supplies or information you would need to get these tasks done. Have them close at hand in your office, and make them portable when you leave to go somewhere. Fill a folder or pouch to stick in your bag, lay the book on top of your purse, have everything ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Here are the supplies you’d need for the sample tasks:
· Blog post: pen and paper
· Hotel reservation: hotel phone number, credit card, pen and paper
· Voicemail: pen and paper
· Thank you note: pen, thank you card with envelope, stamp, address
See how simple this is? But if you’re not prepared, those tasks go undone until later.
Rather than scraps of paper, you’ll want a small notebook to keep it all in one place and avoid “now where is that receipt with the confirmation number on the back?” You can transfer the information to your phone or another notebook later, just use this as your thought capture tool.
Personally I find it difficult to listen on the phone and type into my phone at the same time, even using earphones. Old-fashioned pen and paper help me process and take quick notes, then I can decide what to do with the information after the call.
A simple list and some easy preparation can multiply what you’re able to get done in the small spaces in your day. Those successes will encourage you and start the momentum to work on the bigger things when you get back to the office.
** Kim Garst has just been added to “The Power of Networking” expert panel at NAPW’s 2013 National Networking Conference! Click HERE to get your tickets
As an entrepreneur, conquering challenge and failure is essential to the success of your business. You can learn to cultivate that resilience by training your brain to stay positive when times are tough.
“People tend to have a cognitive bias toward their failures, and toward negativity,” says Matthew Della Porta, a positive psychologist and organizational consultant. Our brains are more likely to seek out negative information and store it more quickly to memory.
Of course, that bias is not always bad. Acknowledging problems and facing failures can lead us to better solutions. But too often, we go overboard, and beat ourselves up for our failures or let ourselves dwell in the negative.
By consciously increasing our focus on the positive, we start to even the balance. We find a happy medium where we can address failures and challenges without letting them get us down, leaving us more motivated, productive, and likely to succeed.
Try these three tips to help you train your brain to stay positive:
1. Express gratitude. Negative events loom large unless you consciously balance them out. “When you’re faced with challenges, it’s important to take stock of what’s going well,” Della Porta says. Thinking about the good in your life can help balance that bias, giving your brain the extra time it needs to register and remember a positive event.
To help your brain store positive events, reflect on what you’re grateful for and why at least once a week. Write down your blessings, such as the opportunity to pursue a career you love or a family that supports you. If you prefer a daily habit, then keep a nightly log of good things that happened that day. “Just keep it very short,” Della Porta says. “If you try to hammer [gratitude] home, then it becomes mundane.” Day One, a journaling app for Apple devices ($4.99), or OhLife, a free email-based journal, can to help you do this.
2. Repeat positive affirmations. As any politician or advertiser knows, the more often you hear a message, the more likely you are to believe it. The same goes for messages about who you are and what you are capable of doing. By repeating positive affirmations with conviction several times each morning, you are training your brain to believe them. “Over time, you’ll start to internalize them,” Della Porta says. Repeat your affirmations silently if you feel self-conscious.
Choose two to three affirmations that represent your values and goals, such as ‘I can handle whatever comes my way,’ ‘There is plenty of time,’ or ‘I’m getting better every day.’ The repetition will influence the way you interpret negative events, making you more resilient. “Especially if you’re predisposed to negative thinking, this can be extremely effective,” Della Porta says.
3. Challenge negative thoughts. Each time a negative thought arises, we choose how to respond. If left to our own devices, we tend to dwell. Our brains home in on negative events so they seem much bigger and more significant than they are. To combat that, start by imagining the thought as separate from yourself, as something you can observe and deconstruct. “Get in the habit of distancing yourself instead of dwelling,” Della Porta says.
Next, challenge negative thoughts that are unfairly self-deprecating. For example, if your startup doesn’t get the traction you hoped, you might think, “I’m a failure.” That’s untrue and unproductive. Instead, practice interpreting the same event differently. You might say, I worked really hard but I didn’t account for a quirk of the market, so I’m disappointed, but now I’m going to try again with new information. That interpretation is gentler, truer, and more proactive. “At first, [this strategy will] be hard and you’ll think it doesn’t work,” Della Porta says. “But over time, it’ll become automatic and negative thoughts will be less likely to come up. No one does this naturally; you have to learn and practice.”
It’s time to mark your calendars! Plans for the 2013 NAPW National Networking Conference are well underway— and you won’t want to miss this year’s event. Come for the day, or spend the weekend in New York City this spring. For all those who attended last year, you know what all the excitement’s about.
Be empowered and connect with hundreds of professional women from all across America, from virtually every industry and profession.
The annual Conference is FREE to Members — one of the many benefits of membership. Our line-up of distinguished Speakers, expert Panelists, and many surprises will be announced soon!
You won’t want to miss this exciting event!
By Jenna Goudreau, Forbes Staff
“I knew they were coming for me,” says Ping Fu. It was 1966, the beginning of China’s Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao Zedong, and she was 8 years old. “I heard this huge noise in the courtyard and saw the Red Guard. Then I heard my mom crying, saying, ‘She’s so little.’ They grabbed me. I wasn’t even given a chance to hug my mom. I was taken away from Shanghai, the only home I knew.”
Taken from her parents, Fu was left to fend for herself and her younger sister in a government-run ghetto in Nanjing, China, where she lived for nearly a decade. There, she was brainwashed, starved, tortured and gang raped, forced to become a child factory worker and without proper schooling. Years later, when the schools reopened, Fu began rebuilding her life as a student at Suzhou University. It was short-lived. A few months before graduation, her senior thesis on female infanticide in China’s countryside caught the attention of the national press. She was imprisoned and sentenced to exile.
Fu began her life in America broke, alone and knowing only three words of English. She put herself through school doing odd jobs and eventually earned a computer science degree, setting her up to become a leading innovator in the early dot-com era. In 1997, she launched tech firm Geomagic with her husband, creating 3D software to customize product manufacturing, from personalized shoes and prosthetic limbs to NASA spaceship repairs. By 2005, it had $30 million in revenues, and she was named Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
Today Fu sits on President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and this month agreed to sell Geomagic to 3D printing leader 3D Systems, where she will be Chief Strategy Officer. With a bigger platform and the time ripe for 3D printing, she believes it’s finally within her reach to “revolutionize American manufacturing.”
Her journey from Chinese labor camp to U.S. innovator is outlined in newmemoir Bend, Not Break, a reliving that she calls both “horrific” and “healing.” She sat down with Forbes to discuss her dark past and how it shaped her into a resilient leader.
Cheryl Bachelder is passionate about two things: leadership and fried chicken. The 56-year-old CEO of Atlanta, Ga.-based AFC Enterprises, franchisor of New Orleans inspired fast-food chain Popeyes, oversees 2000 restaurants in 25 countries with system-wide revenues of nearly $2 billion. Since coming to Popeyes in 2007 from rival KFC, she’s helped the chain outpace competitors in the chicken segment for 18 consecutive quarters, dramatically increase its stock price and rapidly grow its footprint.
When she’s not cooking up new strategies for the 40-year-old brand, she’s racking up leadership awards (2012 Silver Plate Award and Women’s Foodservice Forum’s Leader of the Year) and writing about leadership lessons on her blog The Purpose of Leadership. She sat down with me to discuss the new direction of Popeyes, how she got here, and why she advises women to stop trying so hard to fit in. A condensed version of our conversation follows.
Jenna Goudreau: You’ve said you want to double the number of Popeyes restaurants in the U.S. What’s behind the aggressive expansion plan?
Cheryl Bachelder: This year in the U.S. we’ll build more restaurants that are free-standing drive-throughs than just about anyone in the quick-service restaurant category, except McDonald’s. We are in the rapid growth sector of our industry because our units are performing. New units are opening at $1.5 million in annual sales, which is 50% higher than five years ago. It means the people making investments get great return, and it’s a natural incentive to build more–70% are built by existing franchise owners.
The stock has climbed from a low of about $5 in late 2008 to an average of $26 in the last few months. How did you turn it around?
We’re blessed to have a distinctive brand from Louisiana. We’re all about flavor with a touch of comfort food. We like to say: Everyday should have a little Mardi Gras in it. But we’d stopped talking about the things that made the brand special. In the last few years, we’ve gone back to the roots to bring it to life in a relevant way. We renamed the brand Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. We’ve done some menu innovation with new products like Wicked Chicken, Rippin’ Chicken and Dippin’ Chicken, which are flavorful and portable. With the combination of great new menu items out of our heritage, a strong spokesperson and a dramatic increase in our media spending, the awareness of our brand has more than doubled.
You have a strong background in food, working at Nabisco, Domino’s Pizza and most recently at Popeyes’ rival KFC. What attracted you to the industry?
My early career was in packaged goods at Procter & Gamble and Gillette. I fell in love with food at Nabisco. It’s a wonderful blend of art and science. You have to do it on a large scale, but there’s a lot of art in the innovation and finding the flavors. My love for retail food was a turning point in my career. It’s a wonderful environment to practice innovation, influence and leadership, with a business model that’s so much more complex. To get something done at Popeyes, I have to influence 300 owners and 60,000 people. It’s far more challenging. You also get quick feedback. One day you’re great; one day you stink. I love the speed.
As one of few female CEOs, what do you credit to your business success?
I give a lot of credit to my family. I’m the oldest of four children from a good Midwestern farm family. Everybody worked hard, we valued education, and my parents emphasized integrity in our decision-making over ambition, which is a value mindset missing in many of our leaders today. My parents raised four CEOs. I don’t think that was an accident.
How has that upbringing influenced you as a leader?
Our schools are very good at developing skills but are less successful at building value sets around how you do business. It’s much harder to teach values, so you have to model them in the way you lead. [You have to] be prepared to make courageous decisions that demonstrate your values, where you make the harder choice and not the easier choice.
What’s an example of a courageous decision you made?
To be a parent. Because if you really knew what was coming, I wonder how many of us would do it. I’m the mother of three daughters, who are now 26, 21 and 19. Children don’t come with a handbook; you learn as you go. Parenting is very courageous, hard work, and I’m a big fan of taking it seriously.
I frequently speak with businesswomen who are trying (and sometimes failing) to figure out the work-family juggle. How did you approach it?
It’s very difficult–for mothers and fathers. Recently one of our team members’ kids had a health crisis in the middle of our earnings call. It’s difficult to know what to do when you’ve committed to work obligations and then real life shows up. I left a board meeting once because my daughter was in a car accident. At that moment, I didn’t give a rip about the board meeting. I cared about getting to the scene of the accident and being available to her.
Work-life balance is fraught with difficult choices. We need to encourage women to be confident to make the right choice–because we don’t always get a pat on the back if we walk out of a meeting to take care of a sick baby. We have to be confident and courageous in our choices. I think as women have demonstrated this in the workplace, the workplace has become better for men. It’s enabled them to make family decisions that they’ve wished they could make. The workplace is better off for us opening up this conversation and being respectful toward one another.
What’s your best advice for the next generation of women coming up behind you?
The thing I wish I had learned at a younger age is the importance of bringing your authentic self to your leadership and your workplace. Women spend a lot of years trying to figure out: What do I have to do to make these people happy? What do I have to wear? How should I talk? What behaviors are expected of me? We spend all our energy trying to give them what they want. It totally distracts us from our best selves and coming to work with something to offer. Acknowledge your talents, and as quickly as possible gain confidence in yourself, so that you can be a genuine, authentic contributor and not all that worried about what other people think.