Time to Get [Digitally] Organized

I came to the conclusion that I’ve had a lot of interests online the last few years – too many interests.  I wanted to get into social media, search engine optimization, marketing, and pretty much everything else.  I found myself following over 3,000 people on Twitter, subscribed to all kinds of mailing lists, and listening to a wide variety of podcasts.

While I’m still interested in all those topics, I realized I just don’t have time to learn everything.  I’ve set my priorities, started over with my website, unfollowed a lot of people on Twitter that are no longer in line with my goals, and started cleaning up my podcasts.  My focus is on customer service/support and happiness, adding in WordPress documentation as I can; development is the next big thing I want to tackle.

Here’s what I’m doing to make things easier and more streamlined:

Productivity

  • Trello, Simplenote, Evernote.  I’ve used Evernote for the longest time and just kept adding more and more to it.  I’ve recently started a new process where I’m splitting things up.  Instead of using Evernote for everything, I’ve been using Trello for general notes/ideas and Simplenote for writing post drafts.

Email

  • My goal is to achieve “Inbox Zero,” except for support forum mail.  I’ve come a long way, but I have a long way to go.  This is also going to include coming up with some new guidelines for how I manage things.

Twitter

  • Lists.  I had way too many lists for my current interests.  I’ve set all my lists to private and am starting them over from scratch.  Once things are set, I’ll make the new lists public.
  • Following.  For a while, I got on the SEO/marketing kick and started following a lot of people in those areas that followed me.  I am now only going to follow people I know or want to read on a regular basis.  For others that may be of interest, they will go in a list.

Support

  • Email.  I’ve been working on organizing all the email I get from the WordPress support forums – both .org and .com – in Gmail.  I’ve set up different filters and created a script to delete them after so many days.  There are a few little things I’m still working on, including deciding if Gmail is the way I want to go.  Gmail makes it really easy to organize things, but it can take a little while to fetch new email.  The only reason this comes into play is because I have about a dozen notifications set up on the WordPress.org support forums that are trigged by common spam terms and phrases; the faster I see these, the better.  Our forums are being migrated to bbPress 2.0 tomorrow, so this may no longer be as much of an issue.
  • IFTTT.  I use IFTTT to be notified anytime someone adds the “modlook” tag or posts in the alpha/beta forums.  This lets me check if something should be addressed as soon as possible or why the tag was used.  I’m not a developer, but I can at least monitor the alpha/beta forums for posts that shouldn’t be there; this forum is only for issues with alpha/beta (test) versions of WordPress.
  • Text Expander.  Besides using the WordPress pre-defined replies, my workflow has been to keep standard replies for other common things in Evernote and adjust them as needed per forum reply.  Text Expanders were brought up on the #forums channel on Slack this last week.  I’ve been meaning to look into something like this for a while but just haven’t gotten around to it.  I decided to take a little time and see what I can find.

Podcasts

This list will always be a little high because I’m always on the lookout for new (or new-to-me) quality podcasts.  While I listen to a few things that stray from the main subjects, I mostly listen to podcasts about WordPress, customer support/service, and happiness.  I listened to 29 podcasts last week, and a few of my regulars didn’t even have a new podcast.

  • I’ve added a lot of new podcasts recently to see if they are any good.  I’m going to continue to evaluate these and remove those I don’t find beneficial.
  • I’ve started taking notes on the podcasts I listen to and will start reviewing them, both on my site and on iTunes.

Let’s Get Cleaning

This is going to take a lot of work, but it’ll be worth it in the end.  Once the initial work is done, it should a lot easier to maintain.  What about you?  How do you stay organized online and what tools do you use?

Guy Sings “One Day”in Front of Matisyahu and Didn’t Even Know

I saw this on Facebook yesterday and wanted to share.  I love Matisyahu’s music and “One Day” is one of my favorite songs.  Can you imagine covering a song in a coffee shop only to find out the guy singing along is the person you’re covering?  What a neat video!

Book Review: Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees

Book Title: Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees
Author: Doug Lipp
Overall Rating:  5/5
Format:  Hardcover
Key takeaway:  Snow White never has a bad day. Great customer service is about always putting on a good show.

Summary

I absolutely loved this entire book.  It’s a fun and easy read that describes how Van France created the legendary training program, Disney University, and how it’s still being used decades later to produce world-class employees.  The recurring theme throughout the book is to always provide customers with a good show and when you make your employees happy, everything else will fall into place.

 

You quickly realize Walt Disney and Van France weren’t afraid to speak their mind if someone was doing something that wasn’t in line with the company’s values.  At the same time, they both walked the park and really engaged with employees to give them everything they would need to succeed.  They were all about creating “The Happiest Place on Earth,” which included having fun in the process.

 

“When the subject permits, we let fly with all the satire and gags at our command.  Laughter is no enemy to learning.” – Walt Disney

Although simply changing the name of something doesn’t make it better, I do believe it can have a big impact on someone’s attitude.  This concept is quickly introduced in the first few pages of the book as we learn Disneyland is referred to as the “show.” The “on-stage” area is anything a visitor would see, while everything behind the scenes is considered “backstage.”  This is expanded on later in the book with more terms:

 

  • “We don’t have ‘customers,’ we have ‘Guests.’
  • “We aren’t ’employees,’ we are ‘Hosts,’ ‘Hostesses,’ ‘Cast Members.’
  • “We don’t wear ‘uniforms,’ we wear ‘Costumes.’
  • “We don’t have ‘crowds,’ we have an ‘Audience.’

France introduces four circumstances that are constantly referred to throughout the book:

  1. Innovation:  “This circumstance reveals the traits associated with those who break new ground:  the pioneers who are not afraid to take risks.”
  2. Organizational Support:  “This circumstance adds a component that is lacking in too many organizations; unabashed, organizational support.”
  3. Education: “Without a doubt, this circumstance reveals the roots of the Disney University:  Walt’s long-standing value of providing employees with a tailored, relevant training and educational experience.”
  4. Entertain:  “Van’s description of this circumstance illustrates his firm belief in a value he shared with Walt:  entertain and educate.”
Every chapter ends with a section on applying these circumstances and offers questions that allow you to evaluate how your company rates on each one.

 

“It takes a happy crew to produce a happy show.”

 

Snow White never has a bad day.  This is a very simple, yet very powerful statement.  This isn’t saying Snow White is perfect and only ever has good days; I guarantee you she’s had more than one bad day in her life. But as a customer, you won’t ever know this.

This isn’t to say you should hide your feelings and never show how you are feeling, you just can’t do it in front of a customer.

Everyone has a bad day at some point, but the customer should never be able to tell whether you are having the best day of your life or the worst.  You are in customer service and it is your job to put on a good show for them and never let your bad day creep in and affect them.  I see this too often when people get upset or overwhelmed and they apologize because “it’s been one of those days.”  As someone who works in customer support, I know you can have a bad day.  But not publicly.  And not in front of the customer.  You owe it to them, yourself, and your company.  Every day is a wonderful day!

This book may be aimed a little more at the management level, but I think it’s an excellent book for anyone having contact with customers or oversees employees who do. There are plenty of ideas of how you can improve the service you are providing, no matter how great you think it already is.

Aloha Friday – #LiveAloha – July 22, 2016

aloha_friday_00002_hawaiian_blessing.png

 

Happy Aloha Friday, everyone!

Hawaiian Blessing:

May there always be warmth in your hale,
fish in your net,
and Aloha in your heart

Aloha Friday – #Happiness – July 15, 2016

aloha_friday_00001_happiness_cannot_be_traveled_to

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
-Denis Waitley

I Challenge You to get in [Better] Shape

IMG_9092As you may or may not know, I spent five years active duty in the US Navy and now I’m in the Navy Reserve.  As our primary mission is be deployement-ready, we are required to maintain a minimum level of phsyical readiness.  This is measured by a Physical Readiness Test (PRT) performed every six months.

The Navy defines the purpose of the Physical Readiness test as:

The PRT provides Commanding Officers (COs) with a means of assessing the general fitness of members of their command and provides a means to comply with DODI 1308.3 to develop and administer a physical fitness test that evaluates aerobic capacity, or cardio-respiratory endurance, and muscular strength, and muscular endurance.

Source:  Guide 5-Physical Readiness Test

The standards have recently changed, but it’s the same basic idea.  Our brackets were previously broken down into Outstanding, Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, and Probationary.  We are still using the categories, but they have added a Low, Medium, and High to give a little more insight into those categories.  I’ve scored a good or excellent on each PRT since joining the Reserves in 2012, and I’m not worried about passing it.  My goal is to continually improve my score until I am getting an Outstanding High each time.

My Challenge to You

Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Challenge.  Increase the total number of sit-ups and push-ups you can do in 2-minutes and improve your time running 1.5 miles.  Good luck!

Starting Point.  I plan to start my challenge on this Sunday, July 17.   We had our last PRT on May 14, 2016.  I twisted my ankle three days before the PRT; this probably slowed my running time down slightly, but had little effect on my sit-ups and push-ups.  The following is a breakdown of my score:

Weight:  189 pounds
Sit-ups:  Good Medium (60)
Push-ups:  Good Medium (52)
Cardio:  Good High (11 minutes 56 seconds)
Overall PRT Score:  Good Medium

Let’s do an initial PRT to see where we currently stand.  While there are a lot of little details you need to follow for an actual PRT, this isn’t anything official, so we aren’t going to worry about those!

  1. Do as many sit-ups as you can in 2 minutes
  2. Do as many push-ups as you can in 2 minutes
  3. Run 1.5 miles
  4. Find your age group in the PRT standards charts (starting on page 19 of the guide).
    Here’s the chart for my age group:navy_prt_standards_m3034
  5. Write down how you did so we can keep track of our progress

Train.  Set a goal for how long you want to do this and how much you want to improve.  My goal is to train until our PRT in October and then, of course, continue to work on it after that.

I’m setting my goals based on five days a week because that will allow for a little rest and will take into account those days I am unable to do any training.  I’m going to be posting a weekly update to help keep me motivated and I would love for you to do the same.  This is going to be tough for me because I simply don’t like doing sit-ups or push-ups.  If you see I’m not keeping up, feel free to tell me to stop slacking and get going!  I tried this before with 100 sit-ups and push-ups a day but didn’t make it very long.  Looking back, I realize that wasn’t a very realistic goal for just starting out.  I’m more determined than ever to get in better shape.  I’ll be measuring my weekly stats from Sunday-Saturday.  There’s no blowing these off, either.  With everything else going on, I’m sure there are some weeks I may just not be able to get everything done.  I have a lot going on and am usually very busy, but that’s no excuse.  Anything I don’t get done one week just gets carried over to the next.

My daily goals, 5 days a week:

  • 50 sit-ups a day (250 total per week)
  • 50 push-ups a day (250 total per week)
  • 15 miles of running a week

Overall PRT Goal:  At least an Excellent Low for everything – sit-ups, push-ups, and run

Ending Point.  Are you ready to see how much we’ve improved?  Let’s do one last PRT!

  • Do as many sit-ups as you can in 2 minutes
  • Do as many push-ups as you can in 2 minutes
  • Run 1.5 miles
  • Find your age group in the PRT standards charts
  • Write down your score

Compare.  Did you keep up with your training plan?  How did you do compared to the goals you set?  Are you happy with the outcome?  Why or why not?  What would you have done differently?  Do you intend to maintain your training or some other form of exercise?

Share.  I’d love for you to share your progress as we go through the training phase, including any questions or comments you have about it.  Once you’re done, would you be willing to share how you did and if you plan to keep it up? Leave me a comment below or post on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #PRTChallenge!  Thanks for taking the challenge to live a healthier, happier life!