Media Firms Unite To Provide Additional Coverage of “Core Culture” Blog Series.

Great News!  🎊🍾🥂🎊

My Brother’s Keeper Enterprises and iNoslen Media have unified their Media Departments, for a collaborative effort expanding the reach of the newly added blog series entitled, “Core Culture.” The Core Culture (CC) blog series was produced by the Program Director of iNoslen Radio and its existence was hinted to the listeners during a late December podcast, showcasing the new additions for 2017.


So far, the CC blog series has produced Two (2) well written articles. January showcased an article presenting as well as reintroducing, the listeners to Rampage — Remington Steele. February showcased a tribute piece for Clyde Stubblefield AKA “The Funky Drummer.” Both articles displaying how the “Core Culture” of Hip Hop is based in humanity and overall community outreach and support.


The contributing writers for the CC blog series will be provided by MBK Enterprises and Internship Opportunities will be provided for aspiring media  and journalist professionals, for both MBK Enterprises and iNoslen Media. For future updates check the Internship Opportunity Bulletin.

Here is the link to the first contribution provided by blog contributor “Signifyin.” Be on the look out for more material submitted by him for both companies.

Core Culture #2: Clyde Stubblefield 

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How to Grow Your Sales (Without Selling)

How to Grow Your Sales (Without Selling)
By Dave Lavinsky

“The point of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” 

This is a great quote from management guru Peter Drucker. What it means is that if you do a great job in marketing, sales will be easy. Likewise, there are other things you can do to improve your sales without having to resort to aggressive sales tactics. 

This article details such strategies.

1. Create a Stronger USP

Your USP or unique selling proposition is what distinguishes your company from others.

Here are some famous USPs:
The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine. (Nyquil)
Pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free. (Dominos Pizza)
When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. (Federal Express)
15 minutes or less can save you 15% (GEICO)
Each of these USPs does a great job in distinguishing these companies and getting customers to choose them over competitors.

2. Provide Clear Benefits

In addition to a strong USP, make sure you detail the benefits of your products and/or services to your customers.

For example, do your products:
Remove their pain
Save them time
Improve their success
Make them feel better
Etc.
You generally want to provide a list of features associated with your products/services, but lead with the benefits.

3. Use Many Different Marketing Channels

After you create the best USP you can, and identify your key benefits, you want to convey your message to as many of your prospective customers as possible.

But realize this: not all of your customers are in one place or read/view/listen to one media source. So, use multiple means of reaching them.

For example, you can reach customers through each of the following marketing channels among others:
Direct Mail
Email
Event Marketing
Networking
Partnerships
Press Releases/PR
Print Ads
Radio Ads
TV Ads
Search Engine Optimization
Pay Per Click Advertising
Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

4. Understand and Improve Your KPIs

Key Performance Indicators or “KPIs” are the metrics that judge your business’ performance.

And, as you might know, you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

So the key is to 1) identify the most important KPIs in your business, and 2) measure/track them over time so you can judge your progress in improving them.

While there are hundreds of potential KPIs to track, here’s a small sample of KPIs that most companies must measure:
Net Profit
Sales
Sales by product/service line
Cost to acquire new customers
Lifetime customer value

Importantly, as you understand and improve your KPIs, your revenues and profits will grow. In fact, identifying and managing your KPIs is one of the pillars of a successful business.

5. Make It Simple to Purchase from Your Company

When you make it easy to buy from your company, you’ll get more sales.

For example, not accepting credit cards will dramatically hurt the sales of many businesses.

Similarly, making customers complete tedious paperwork (that may not really be necessary) may frighten off some customers.

Conversely, having your product for sale not only on your website, but on Amazon, eBay and others, could make it easier for some customers to purchase from you and prompt more sales.

So, think about ways to make it easier for current and prospective customers to buy from you.

Start using these five strategies today, and watch your sales and profits grow.

***
Dave Lavinsky is President of Growthink and author of Start At The End

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How Rhythm Affects Your Personal Productivity…

How Rhythm Affects Your Personal Productivity
By Laura Stack

Forget company politics, who you know, how early you arrive in the morning, or how late you stay: in the daily workplace round, simple time management skills reign supreme. 

You can’t accomplish much in the world without learning to break down your working life into distinct tasks you can easily keep track of, so you can prioritize them by value and schedule them logically. Only then can you make the most of your workplace productivity, while still allowing yourself enough time away from the job for all those other activities that make life worthwhile.

Oh, working like a dog can get you by in the short term, but working too hard for too long just wears you down and burns you out. You can’t do your best work when you always feel tired, or just don’t care anymore. 

So let’s stipulate that an effective to-do list, a personal organizational system, scheduling prowess, and all the other basics of time management are critical tools for making it in the big time. This still leaves you with a lot of leeway to experiment with the details. 

Among other things, you can test various ways to structure your tasks so you get into a rhythm of work that takes into account not just your personal characteristics, but also human psychology and the way American business has structured the standard workweek.

Your Private Rhythm 

Human beings experience certain natural rhythms, marked by peaks and valleys in both mood and energy during the day and week. For example, most of us have more energy in the mornings, though this is by no means true of everyone; your peak may occur just after lunch, or at 3:00. Whenever it occurs, take advantage of your productive surge. 

Rather than waste it on housekeeping chores or taking a break, tackle the tasks that require greater focus and effort when you feel your best. You can handle less important things later, after you wind down a little. 

If you’re a morning person, you might try sitting right down to an important project first, rather than checking your email. You may have to shake up your current routine a bit as you work to match the correct task to your energy level.

On a weekly scale, you may have a hard time getting started on Mondays, as your body and mind readjust to the workweek; and by Friday, you may feel ground down by the week’s stress and strain. If so, these may be days when you should avoid tasks that require a lot of thought or focus, choosing instead to do things like organizing, planning, or dealing with simple people-related issues. 

On the other hand, you may find that the core of the week, Tuesday through Thursday, represents your most productive period. On such days, it really pays to put your head down and push through your most difficult and important tasks, while you have the capacity to do so. 

Or if you’ve been traveling, you may find the day you get back dedicated to just regrouping, reorganizing, and figuring out what’s on your plate.

Finally, consider the fixed actions you know you’ll have to take part in or take time off for, and try to build them into your rhythm. If you have a special meeting the first Wednesday of every month or need to drive your daughter to ballet class at 4 PM on Tuesdays, make sure you take those items into account. Arrange your schedule so you don’t have to bring a particular activity or group of activities to a screeching halt in order to take care of your fixed events.

External Rhythms

You don’t operate in a vacuum, so be sure to consider other people’s rhythms whenever you can. On a grand scale, suppose you have to drive across the city on a weekly basis. 

Don’t try to make your trip during the morning or evening rush hours; instead, maximize your productivity by choosing some time like 10:15 AM, after the morning rush has cleared and before people have started to head out to lunch.

At the intra-office level, recent research suggests that the best time to have effective meetings is on Tuesday afternoons. Even if Tuesdays don’t work for you, you may want to establish a specific meeting day for yourself-one day a week when you do little else but have face-to-face interactions and conference calls with others. I tend to stack all my meetings in one day, rather than spreading them out over several days, so I have larger blocks of time on some days to focus on creative tasks.

Closer to home, try to get to know the general rhythms of the co-workers you deal with most often. If you can predict when regular events in their lives will affect the rhythm of your own, then you can take those things into account when building your schedule. 

A Rhythmic Composite

Determining the work rhythm that maximizes your productive potential requires openness to experimentation, a sharp eye for your own rhythms and those of others, and a willingness to keep trying until you find something that works. 

The ideal approach probably won’t make itself obvious right away, though the tips I’ve outlined should get you started.

Just get moving and keep your eyes open. Eventually, you’ll hit your stride in a way that instinctively takes into account your peak energy periods, your scheduled tasks, the rhythms of your coworkers, and the world at large. 

That will help you maximize your overall productivity at work, while giving yourself enough free time to enjoy life outside work.
***

Laura Stack is America’s premier expert in personal productivity. Since 1992, she has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of four books, including SuperCompetent. To learn more about Laura, visit www.TheProductivityPro.com.

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Monday Motivation 01/16/17 #MBKEntMentors

“Learn from yesterday, live for day, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” 

~ Albert Einstein

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Top 10 Time Management Traps to Avoid in 2017…

Top 10 Time Management Traps 
to Avoid in 2017…

By Laura Stack


[Note from Dave: Some of Laura’s article was written from the perspective of a worker and some from the perspective of the boss. As you read it, consider changes you can make yourself and changes your current or future employees can make to boost your/their productivity.]

These days, despite technology intended to make life easier, we tend to work harder and have less discretionary time than ever before. Why?

After more than 20 years speaking at conferences and implementing productivity-improvement programs at Fortune 1000 companies, I’ve come to recognize certain nemeses most of us face repeatedly.

While clients do occasionally surprise me with the nature of their time management headaches, about 95% of the time, the traps they find themselves mired in fall into the same familiar handful of categories.

So to help you have a productive 2017, let’s take a look at the ten biggest time traps faced by the modern worker. I’ll discuss the common variations of each, and offer some advice on how to overcome them.

Trap #1: Prioritization

Setting workplace priorities is by far the most common time management complaint I hear, and it comes in two flavors: either the worker has problems juggling multiple projects and can’t set his or her own priorities, or the boss has problems setting priorities for the employee.

Often, the boss labels everything as equally urgent, leaving workers to throw up their hands in frustration and simply guess which project to focus on-which may cause drama and stress later on, if they guess wrong or the boss proves unreasonable.

Whether the failure to set priorities is the boss’s or the worker’s, the worker ends up scrambling, and may soon fall prey to overwork and overwhelm (which represents another common time trap; see below).

The solution, while easy to state, may be difficult to accomplish: firmly ask your boss to prioritize your projects. Then ruthlessly triage your task list, focusing first on the items that truly matter. Prioritize everything else according to relative value.

Trap #2: Interruptions and Distractions

This timewaster consists of anything unscheduled but routine that disrupts an individual’s focus and thereby damages productivity at work. Meetings and crises don’t count; they have their own categories.

I imagine you could fill up a whole page (or more) with a list of the various interruptions and distractions that impact your workplace productivity: coworkers who drop in at random intervals; ringing phones; noisy neighbors; and micromanaging bosses.

Communications issues, especially those involving email and phone calls, plague us all constantly, and represent almost a third of this category of complaints.

Overcoming this particular trap requires a firm application of self-discipline. If something distracts or interrupts you, make the effort necessary to guard against it. If you have an executive assistant, have them guard access to you. Otherwise, tighten your focus.

Use ambient sound or music to block out noise. Turn off your email alerts and close your browser. Forward your calls to voicemail when you have no time for calls and respond a few times a day. Go somewhere quieter for a while or work from home one day a week.

Trap #3: Overwork/Overwhelm

This problem boils down to: “There’s not enough time in the day to do everything!” Given the human need for rest (and sanity), workers can push themselves only so far within the unforgiving limitations of the 24-hour day. Time is a constraint no one can bargain with or stretch.

Take firm control of your time, jettisoning the unimportant tasks from your schedule, and maintaining an unremitting, tight focus. Examine each task and determine if you’ve been overdoing it; in other words, can your downstream user make do with less? If the task really belongs to someone else, give it to them.

To the maximum extent possible, find ways to delegate tasks to others, and practice purposeful abandonment: if you run out of time for something of minor relevance, let it go. Stop seeing your task list as a “must do” list, instead viewing it as a “want to do” list.

These steps represent only the beginning of a valid prioritization effort, but taken together, they’re big steps-and they can help you deal with the beast of overwhelm before it devours you.

Trap #4. Lack of Self-Discipline

For some people, the biggest time management problem is actually a lack of self-discipline: i.e., not having the willpower to say no to distractions, or to stick tenaciously to the task at hand. Many people won’t admit it, however.

Many employees are unable to concentrate or attempt to multitask too much. Too often, they lose track of the projects they’re juggling, which echoes prioritization and planning issues as well. Others have problems with setting or sticking to goals…and a few just can’t seem to get anywhere on time.

To overcome these problems, fire up your willpower, crack the whip on yourself, and decide to concentrate on a task until complete.

About a quarter of those with self-discipline problems see procrastination as a bigger issue than a simple lack of focus. Most often, they find themselves daunted by huge, complex projects. So in addition to applying tight focus to the problem, break it into smaller chunks you can handle more easily. Set milestones, buckle down, and get to work.

Trap #5: Disorganization

Many workers accept a high level of chaos in their lives, and as a result find themselves stuck in the time trap of disorganization. Information constantly gets lost or misplaced.

Tracking action items, managing the boss (or subordinates), filing, planning, and overall project management sometimes overwhelms these workers, because they don’t have a logical information processing system in place.

Learn to use your email software to its fullest, establish a logical, simple organizational system, and process every piece of information as it enters your life. Don’t let it pile up, and never dither about what to do with an item-whether a piece of paper, an email, a voicemail, or any other bit of information that crosses your desk.

Always make time for planning. And occasionally, step back and look at the big picture, so you can see how everything is working. As necessary, take steps to fix what doesn’t work, and be on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency.

Trap #6. Scheduling

Do you have problems getting things done in the time you have? Common complaints include an inability to properly estimate how long specific tasks will take (a skill that comes with experience), and deciding where on one’s calendar to place each task.

The second case requires thoughtful (and stringent) application of both task triage and prioritization, as well as a willingness to say no to new work when possible. You especially have to learn to let things go.

You can’t get important things done you’re your calendar is burgeoning with unimportant meetings. Most of us prefer to do the easy, fun tasks first-an unproductive attitude at best. Instead, do the hard, high-significance things first. You can let go of the rest if time runs out.

Trap# 7: People Problems

Jean-Paul Sartre famously said, “Hell is other people” – and yes indeed, your coworkers can present a variety of difficulties when it comes to getting your work done. As I’ve already discussed, many workplace distractions emanate from others; who hasn’t been annoyed by coworkers gossiping in the hall, or playing their music too loud?

Upper echelon workers often find that management duties represent their biggest time challenges; but those come with the job. Productivity at work suffers more when people act as roadblocks and bottlenecks. A few seem to do it on purpose, often from sheer cussedness.

Some don’t care about your deadlines, so they don’t get important information to you in a timely fashion. Others just can’t seem to get anywhere on time, thereby wasting your time. And when a boss can’t (or won’t) make a decision, you might end up twiddling your thumbs until they do.

Some bottlenecks you can go around. Some you can break by stepping in to help, or at least by asking the blocker flat out what the hold-up is. Whatever the case, try to smooth the way so you can get the workflow process moving again. If you can’t, then accept the situation as something you can’t change and move on to something else.

Trap #8: Crises

The time trap of the unexpected runs neck-and-neck with people problems in my informal survey. In fact, most workplace crises arise from human behavior in one way or another.

Bosses dump urgent projects on you at short notice, slow coworkers keep dragging their heels until you can barely meet your deadlines, human bottlenecks tie up resources, and everything suddenly comes due right now. We’ve all been there-and we’ll all certainly be there again.

You can’t do much when other people spin things into crisis, except react-which means you must remain perpetually flexible. Establish systems and processes in advance to handle the unexpected when it lifts its ugly head, including guidelines for each type of emergency you can imagine. When a crisis arises, practice SLLR: Stop, Look, Listen, and Respond. After you have a handle on the situation, spring into action.

You may have to triage your to-do list again, with some tasks moving down or off the list as a result. If you’ve already scheduled a little extra time into your schedule, let it take up the slack. Do all you can to address the new work while letting as few of your normal tasks go as possible-and get all the help you can while doing so.

Trap #9: Work/Life Balance

It may sometimes seem like your organization doesn’t want you to have a life outside of work, considering everything they pile on you. Workers tend to accept excessive hours as part of the background noise.

Mostly, people just want a personal life, so they can pursue their hobbies, rest and relax, exercise, go to school, or (the #1 response) spend more time with their families. Again, the solution involves a strict adherence to self-discipline, ruthless task triage, and relentless prioritization, so you can make a big enough hole in your schedule to enjoy life outside of work.

Focus on being efficient and productive at work, so you can achieve maximum results in minimum time, leave the office earlier, (can you get down to 10 hours instead of 12?), and get a life.

Trap #10: Meetings

No organization can function without face time; so inevitably, meetings take up some portion of the average worker’s daily schedule. In some organizations, they get out of hand, directly harming workplace productivity.

Finding enough time to actually fit in work when you regularly spend half the day in back-to-back meetings can be difficult. And before you accuse me of exaggeration, I do know people who’ve worked such jobs.

When meetings go bad, the problem, again, tends to be because of oblivious people. They go off on tangents, won’t get to the point, or simply can’t communicate well; whatever the case, they err by wasting everyone else’s time.

Besides fighting this tendency in yourself, you can overcome the meeting trap by cutting down your commitments to meetings, going only to those you absolutely need to attend, and setting time limits you communicate to everyone as soon as you arrive. If you can, leave once you’ve made your contributions. If the meeting goes over the allotted time, politely excuse yourself, citing another meeting to attend.

And There You Have It!

That rounds out my list of top ten time management traps, based on my research and decades of experience helping people hone their workplace productivity. Most interrelate in a variety of ways, both obvious and subtle.

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this article, the secret to overcoming these time traps will always be hard work and unremitting vigilance in the form of task triage, serious efforts at prioritization, and laser-like focus. Simple and straightforward enough, if not especially easy!

***

Laura Stack is America’s premier expert in personal productivity. Since 1992, she has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of four books, including SuperCompetent. To learn more about Laura, visit www.TheProductivityPro.com.

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Monday Motivation 01/02/17 #MBKEntMentors

It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” 

~ Bill Gates

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11 Secrets to Becoming Rich, Successful, and Happy

11 Secrets to Becoming Rich, Successful, and Happy…

By Jeff Haden

Even though we all define “rich” differently — and we should — most of us factor at least some degree of wealth into our equations.

Yet we also want to feel successful. You don’t have to make a lot of money to be a success.

And we definitely want to be happy.

Can you have all three? Sure. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. Here’s how:

1. Stop focusing on money.

While it sounds counterintuitive, maintaining a laser-like focus on how much you make distracts you from doing the things that truly contribute to building and growing wealth.

So shift your perspective. See money not as the primary goal but as a byproduct of doing the right things.

2. Start tracking how many people you help, if only in a small way.

The most successful people I know — both financially and in other ways — are shockingly helpful. They’re incredibly good at understanding other people and helping them achieve their goals. They know their success is ultimately based on the success of the people around them.

So they work hard to make other people successful: their employees, their customers, their vendors and suppliers… because they know if they can do that then their own success will surely follow.

And they will have built a business — or a career — they can be truly proud of.

3. Stop thinking about money and start thinking about service.

When you only have a few customers and your goal is to make a lot of money, you need to find ways to squeeze every last dollar out of every transaction.

But when you find a way to serve a million people, many other benefits follow. Word of mouth is hugely magnified. The feedback you receive is exponentially greater — and so are your opportunities to improve your products and services. You get to hire more employees and benefit from their experience, their skills, and their overall awesomeness.

And in time, your business becomes something you never dreamed of — because your customers and your employees have taken you to places you couldn’t even imagine.

Serve a million people — and serve them really well — and the money will follow.

4. See making money as a way to make more things.

Generally speaking, there are two types of people. One makes things because they want to make money; the more things they make, the more money they make. What they make doesn’t really matter that much to them — they’ll make anything as long as it pays.

The other wants to make money because it allows them to make more things. They want to improve their product. They want to extend their line. They want to write another book, record another song, produce another movie. They love what they make and they see making money as a way to do even more of what they love. They dream of building a company that makes the best things possible… and making money is the way to fuel that dream and build that company they love.

While it is certainly possible to find that one product that everyone wants and grow rich by selling that product… most successful businesses evolve and grow and, as they make money, reinvest that money in a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Like Walt Disney said, “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.”

5. Find your happiness in the success of others.

Great business teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to make others happy. Great teams are made up of employees who help each other, know their roles, set aside personal goals, and value team success over everything else.

Where does that attitude come from? You. Almost every truly successful entrepreneur feels a major chunk of his or her happiness comes from enjoying the success of employees and customers.

Do you?

6. Cultivate dignity and respect.

Providing employees with higher pay, better benefits, and greater opportunities is certainly important. But no level of pay and benefits can overcome damage to self-esteem and self-worth.

The most important thing truly successful entrepreneurs provide employees, customers, vendors — everyone they meet — is dignity.

And so should you, because when you do, everything else follows.

7. Do one thing better…

Pick one thing you’re already better at than most people. Just. One. Thing. Become maniacally focused at doing that one thing. Work. Train. Learn. Practice. Evaluate. Refine. Be ruthlessly self-critical, not in a masochistic way but to ensure you continue to work to improve every aspect of that one thing.

Financially successful people do at least one thing better than just about everyone around them. (Of course it helps if you pick something to be great at that the world also values–and will pay for.)

Excellence is its own reward, but excellence also commands higher pay–and greater respect, greater feelings of self-worth, greater fulfillment, a greater sense of achievement…all of which make you rich in non-monetary terms.

Win-win.

8. Then list the best people at that one thing…

How did you choose them? How did you determine who was the best? How did you measure their success?

Use those criteria to track your own progress towards becoming the best at what you choose.

If you’re a developer, it could be the number of people who use your software. If you’re a leader, it could be the number of people you train and mentor to reach their goals. If you’re an online retailer, it could be conversion rate or sales per transaction or on-time shipping….

Don’t just admire successful people. Take a close look at what makes them successful. Then use those criteria to help create your own measures of success. And then…

9. Then do more of what you do best.

Another benefit of building a team is that it allows you to do a lot more of what you do best.

Say you’re great at selling. Why perform admin tasks when your time is better spent with customers? Or maybe you’re great at creating awesome processes. Why spend time creating social-media marketing campaigns when you could be streamlining your distribution channel?

Every person has something they do that makes the biggest difference on their personal bottom lines. The most successful people find ways to do a lot more of that… and a lot less of everything else.

10. Relentlessly track your progress.

We tend to become what we measure, so track your progress at least once a week against your key measures.

Maybe you’ll measure how many people you help. Maybe you’ll measure how many customers you serve. Maybe you’ll check off the key steps on your journey to becoming the world’s best at the thing you chose.

More likely, you’ll measure a combination of these, and more.

11. Build routines that ensure your success.

Never forget that achieving a goal is based on creating routines. Say you want to write a 300-page book. That’s your goal. Your system to achieve that goal could be to write four pages a day — that’s your routine.

Thinking about your goal won’t get you to a finished manuscript, but sticking faithfully to your routine will.

Or say you want to land 50 new customers. That’s your goal; your routine is to contact a certain number of leads per day, check in with a certain number of current customers, network with a certain number of potential partners… your routine is what you will do, without fail, that will allow you to achieve your goal. Follow that routine and faithfully meet your deadlines and if your plan is great, you will land your new customers.

Wishing and hoping won’t get you there. Sticking to your routine will, especially when you ruthlessly measure your progress, fix what doesn’t work, and improve and repeat what does work. Success is almost guaranteed when you refine and revise and adapt and work hard every day to be better than you were yesterday.

And probably without even noticing, you’ll also be rich — and more importantly, a lot happier, because you’ll like how you got there.
***

Jeff Haden is a ghostwriter and Inc. Magazine columnist.

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