Reclaiming Your Productivity with Holland Haiis

The pressure is on for us to become more productive with our day.  As strong female executive leaders, we want to always put our best foot forward. Our ambitious plan to advance our careers means that we need to do what we can to optimize our days to get things accomplished.

Little do we know that there are small things that we are doing that are killing our ability to be as productive as possible. To help accomplish everything our extensive goal lists, here are a few to get you back into your flow state.

Monitor your use of electronics

Electronics mess with our brains, disturbing our sleep cycle, and zapping our productivity. Instead of our Melatonin naturally rising over the course of the day, the blue light from our devices sends the brain signals that it is time to wake up. Our natural melatonin levels get disrupted, which in turn disrupts our sleeping pattern. Even if we get an adequate amount of sleep, we still wake up feeling groggy and unrested.

Checking our phones in the morning sets off our day at a disadvantage. We are spiking our cortisol levels, putting our brains in fight or flight right from the beginning. By opting out of this behavior, we are setting up the day to be less stressful, which allows you to get more done with less effort.

Follow the Rule of Three

An ideal part of your morning routine should be to sit down and write down the top three important tasks that you are hoping to get done. By laying these tasks out, it allows your brain to prioritize things and group related tasks, which results in better time management.

Try to limit yourself to three big things. Too many tasks can be paralyzing and make it more stressful when you don’t get everything done.

Just making a list is giving you direction and gives you a hit of dopamine. This will give you encouragement and push you along the right path while also balancing out stress hormones.

Get Green

Nature and the color green nurtures the brain. The cortisol and adrenaline that keep us stressed will automatically drop as we go out into nature while dopamine and serotonin increase. Patients who have high blood pressure, who have suffered from a stroke, and who are severely stressed get therapeutic benefits from these surroundings. Many people also feel spikes in creativity as well by being outside. Our eyes blink more as we are allowed to reset.

There are several quick ways to incorporate more green into your life that don’t take a week long retreat into the forest.

  • Change your screensaver to a nature scape to give you a minibreak when you close windows and unwind slightly.
  • Have plants in the room so that you have something natural to look at to distract you from your screen.
  • Go outside. Even a few minutes will help you recharge and make you more productive overall.

Avoid decision fatigue

We have a limited reserve of the decisions that we can make. Exhausting this reserve has shown to drastically lower the quality of our work and the effort we are able to put into a task. Because of this, tasks that we perform at the end of the day won’t get the same results as the ones that we perform in the morning.

Cut down on electronics and the constant distractions that they provide. The constant notifications distract us and force us to make decisions and prioritize tasks, even if they aren’t important. Adding time blocks of 60-90 minutes where you dedicate your best decisions and work into important tasks allows you to spend more of this resource on important work.

Multitasking is really a myth. Our brains take in information linearly. Any appearance of handling multiple things at once is really just switching between tasks. Every time you switch, there will be some time wasted making the switch and getting back up to speed.

The importance of rituals

Rituals allow the brain to relax and enjoy the task at hand because it takes away the need to make decisions. By following established habits, we can accomplish more without succumbing to decision fatigue. Routines allow us to settle in and focus on the task at hand.

Habits give our brains context for how they are supposed to feel, operate, and react to what is going on around them. They tell us when we need to be alert and focused and when we can relax. It is our way of telling our brains what they should be doing, and they can either set us up for success or failure, depending on the routine.

Final thoughts

Incorporating these tips into our lives will help us get back to being more productive on the projects we’re passionate about. By looking to limit our use of electronics, we can give our brains the break they need to perform better. Drinking in nature allows naturally allows us to relax. Being intentional about how and when we make decisions lets us focus those resources on what’s important. Finding the right rituals sets us in the right mindset for the work at hand.

As strong figures looking to grow the impact of women’s leadership, these practices are little steps that can have huge impacts on our productivity.


Most consumers base their purchase of a product or service on customer reviews. Amazon, for example, has become synonymous with its infamous buyer reviews.

When we purchase something on Amazon, the chances of receiving a polite email requesting that we review the product are high, especially if the company is smaller in size. Testimonials are an essential part of every business’s success, and as women, we must show persistence when it comes to collecting them.

Every Customer Testimonial is Beneficial

Positive testimonials allow your business, no matter the industry, to gain credibility. The experiences of our customers showcase our talent and authenticity. Even a negative review can work in our favor, if we let it, by giving us the chance to express our dedication to making the situation work for all parties involved.

There are various effective ways to collect powerful customer testimonials for our businesses without feeling overwhelmed. We have tricks for all those in South Asian women’s leadership to market themselves without working around the clock, and utilizing consumer testimonials is one of them.

Making Our Business Work for Us

We are all incredibly busy. When it comes to women’s leadership, we wear a lot of hats. We all might not have the same hats, but we change them often nonetheless.

In that sense, women need to have business processes that work for us. We need to simplify wherever possible and allow the technology available to take on some of our workloads. Collecting customer testimonials is a massive part of letting others see what we can do without always having to show them.

Customer testimonials come in many forms, both written and visual. Here, we have five fantastic ways to collect powerful testimonials that drive businesses’ success forward, allowing women entrepreneurs to take things to the next level.

When to Ask for a Client Testimonial

One of the hardest parts of receiving client testimonials is asking for them. Requesting a testimonial at the wrong time may make the client or student reluctant to review services, especially when caught off guard.

Instead of risking alienating customers from the idea of providing a testimonial, introduce the concept early on in your interactions. When creating a package for them, make sure a testimonial is part of it. It can be voluntary, but it gives them time to prepare as the collaboration progresses, and the testimonial grows closer.


Make it as easy as possible for them. Yes, this does create more work for business owners in the short term, but it’s well worth the time in the long run. If consumers can provide a testimonial in one or two clicks, not only are they more likely to leave one, but we’ve shown them how considerate we are by guiding them through.

Google Forms are an excellent way to collect client testimonials. They’re quick, easy to set up and fill out, and they’ll save directly to the business’ Google Drive, eliminating the risk of losing data.

The Strength of the Video Testimonial

The world has gone digital, and the power that video has is unmatchable to any other form of media. Users are more likely to engage in video content, and that includes testimonials. The best part is, those viewing video testimonials are often very forgiving, meaning the video does not have to be perfect to be effective.

Video testimonials are incredibly personal. They allow potential clients to see the person who has used this product or service, whatever it may be, and see their emotion when they speak about their experience. It’s organic, and it creates conversions.

Editing Tools for Video Testimonials

While video testimonials don’t have to be perfect, there are a few editing tools, many with free versions, that encourage people to stay on the video longer. For example, creating captions for a video will mean that potential clients will know what is going on without turning on the sound.

It’s rare to scroll through social media and see videos without captions. The same rule applies to testimonials. Keep in mind that not everyone can hear audio. Also, captions are excellent when applying search engine optimization. The edited result will make an astoundingly, powerful client testimonial.

Check out the following software:

Asking Clients for Headshots

Asking clients for headshots may seem invasive when wrapping up the testimonial process, even for executive women. Still, the truth is, it will benefit them exponentially, especially if those clients have websites.

We can easily place the URL (not hyperlinked) to their site underneath their name and testimonial, without encouraging site visitors to leave our sales page. Also, a headshot is comforting to those reading the testimonials. They can see that the person is real, aiding them in making a decision.

Leveraging Negative Reviews

As we mentioned briefly, negative reviews don’t have to destroy the business reputation of an entrepreneur. Responding to negative thoughts and testimonials provides us with the chance to clear up misconceptions, embrace genuine feedback, and build relationships.

We can make things right by answering quickly, talking it out to gain insight into the root of the issue, and cultivating an understanding between business owners and clients. It’s important to remember that our business doesn’t have to be a solution for everyone.

We market to target audiences for a reason. However, don’t be quick to dismiss negative feedback. There is always something to learn.

Providing Social Proof

We can preach to our audiences all day long about how excellent our service or product is, but it’s much harder to make the sale without documented social proof. Testimonials are an easy way to show potential clients that you’re more than ready to take them on while marketing yourself in a way that’s nothing but authentic.


A Woman Leaders Workshop: Five Helpful Suggestions to Avoid Burnout

As a leader, it’s common to get burned out. In this day and age of non-stop Zoom calls, no networking, no water cooler and no office, the fatigue is REAL. How do you stay inspired to drive growth and innovate your business?

Allison Holzer, author of the book ‘Dare to Inspire,’ shares 5 ways to stay inspired at work.

 Three distinct symptoms that indicate you’re experiencing burnout:

  • Physical Exhaustion – You become overwhelmed with fatigue, sapping your energy levels.


  • Emotional Cynicism – This symptom results from the fatigue-related frustration, and it casts a grey shadow over everything you do.


  • Lacking Agency – It feels like you don’t control your destiny, preventing you from achieving your goals.


The above burnout-adjacent signs make it virtually impossible to engage with your work at a high level. Therefore, it’s crucial to apply techniques and philosophies that help you avoid burnout.


Actively Seeking out Inspiration is the Foundation for Conquering Burnout


Inspiration neutralizes burnout.


However, you can’t sit around, waiting for inspiration.


You must proactively cultivate a sense of self-efficacy and possibilities. From there, confidence grows, and you’re likelier to take charge because you start feeling invincible.


Combining invincibility and possibility together transforms into rocket fuel, propelling you over any burnout-related hurdles and toward your own personal ambitions. Moreover, this feeling can be sustained, never succumbing to the burnout’s many perils.


The following 5 tips will help you stay inspired, even when burnout threats might lurk in the background:


  1. State Your Feelings Out Loud


To maintain a poker face in a professional environment, some people might internalize their most negative emotions.


Unfortunately, these daunting headspaces eat you up if you don’t identify them. It’s natural to feel insecure, scared, and sometimes even petty. After all, humans feel up to 20,000 emotions per day—they can’t all be positive.


If you don’t confront those feelings and aren’t honest with yourself, the consequences will be adverse.


Alternatively, stating your emotions – out loud – has a therapeutic effect because we’re claiming them and taking control. This little trick prevents those negative feelings from overwhelming and distracting from the task at hand.


For help with monitoring and conquering your negative emotions, download Yale’s mood meter app.


  1. Flipping Your Script


Another natural human behavior conducive to burnout is our ability to ruminate and dwell on bad experiences or little triggers. It’s akin to a cow chewing cud—except you’re endlessly gnashing your teeth about something you can’t control.


Fortunately, you can control this behavior, too, by flipping it into a positive or productive reaction. Accomplishing this script-flipping requires self-awareness and accomplishing something that’s in your control.


Here’s a practical example:


Say that your boss micro-manages you. While it’s frustrating, their behavior isn’t something you can control.


What you can control, however, is creating a priorities list that lines up with your boss’s expectations. From there, you might win them over, and it could end up with you in a less micro-managed situation.


  1. Put Yourself in Motion


Being too stationary leads to fatigue and energy-loss synonymous with burnout.


Nobody’s expecting you to run a marathon, nor do you have to.


Instead, it’s important to incorporate movement throughout your daily routine. Incrementally get up out your chair, stretch, walk and do whatever you need to feel less stuck.


Furthermore, planning walk-and-talk meetings is another excellent way to remain productive beyond your office chair’s confines. Note which times throughout the day where your energy levels suffer, and incorporate small, non-intimidating movements that give you a boost.


An array of apps exists for simple office exercises. These will aid greatly during those challenging hours of the day, be it early morning, mid-afternoon, or lunchtime.


Also, enjoying podcasts or phone-calls with friends during these occasions will add some motivation for performing these movements.


  1. Schedule Unstructured Time


There are 18 engines of inspiration.


A uniquely vital engine is unstructured time, wherein you give your brain some much-needed space. At first, this might seem in line with unproductivity, which couldn’t be any further from the truth.


Unstructured time is meant to reignite your inspiration. Walking away from a task that demands tremendous brainpower allows you to assess a problem from different angles by not thinking about it. Whereas sitting there and continually focusing on the issue is akin to slamming your head against a wall.


Give yourself thirty minutes to an hour per day to not solve any problems. Two or three hours on special occasions is a good idea as well. Listen to music, watch an enthralling movie, or do whatever is needed to give your brain some space.


Most importantly, don’t feel guilty for unstructured time. It’s a productivity strategy, not neglecting your responsibilities.


  1. Forge Personal Connections


The emotional cynicism that stems from burnout often leads people to think that, at its core, humanity is rooted in self-interest.


This outlook fosters a sense of hopelessness that results in burnout. Connecting with people on a deep level reverses this feeling because it reignites your hope in humanity. You’ll see that people genuinely care about you and are emotionally invested in your success, which is tremendously inspiring.


Find these connections in networking groups, family, friends, and colleagues. But it won’t happen if you aren’t proactive in seeking out these bonds.


With these five tips, you’ll conquer burnout and its negative consequences on your personal and professional life.



How To Turn Rejections Into Introductions With VC Nihal Mehta

The moment you enter into business for yourself, the long journey ahead of you is littered with all kinds of rejections.

Most business owners think that the opposite of rejection is acceptance. But, the truth is that the best way to counter rejection is to build resiliency.

And, when it comes to scaling your business, funding your idea, and creating a legacy, there are multiple ways to form that resiliency. Some are mindset and attitude-based. Other strategies are more practical, and they come from years of experience.

Recently, we sat down with VC Nihal Mehta and a panel of speakers at LadyDrinks, lobbing a range of questions from business owners in a variety of niches. Listen in and learn exactly how to turn rejections into introductions, funding, and business wins.

Lesson #1: Rejection is a Curve that You Can Flatten

Rejections spark a lot of emotional and psychological pain. When business owners are following up after the first rejection, the memory of rejection can be a hump that stalls their progress.

Nihal Mehta suggests doing the following:

→ Accept that the sting of rejection is a natural human emotion. You’re absolutely allowed to feel it.

→  Look at resiliency like a muscle — it needs the pressure of rejection, and even failure, to build up.

“After investing in a lot of companies, many of which have failed, you actually do build up a thickness in your skin. You do end up building resiliency as a muscle. The first few rejections are going to hurt. They hurt like hell. But like the 21st rejection is not more than the 20th, you know?”

Here’s the thing — the experience of rejection and the feelings it triggers is a sensation that flattens itself out. When you look at it this way, it becomes even more imperative that you “fail hard and fail fast.” You should be scrambling to get those first few rejections.

Nihal cites Jack Dorsey’s whopping 90 rejections from investors, before he found an investor that would actually back this category to find a company. There is, of course, a surprising dichotomy between men and women, on an emotional front, when “bouncing back” post rejection. Even so, it’s a journey.

And because it’s a journey, it’s important to maintain an equilibrium that will help you stay strong regardless of the fact that everyday isn’t going to be a win.

The CEO of Box, says Nihal, shared that part of being part of being an entrepreneur is managing the higher highs and managing the lower lows and keeping yourself right here.

Nihal says that, for him, it’s meditation, getting up, and working out first thing in the morning. These are the constants that help flatten and stabilize equilibrium in the face of rejection.

Lesson #2: Learn About the Threshold for Acceptance First

Once you acknowledge to yourself that rejection is inevitable, perhaps even desirable, you should seek to learn what the metrics of success would be. That way, you can aim for it.

If you’re trying to hedge against rejection for an early stage company, Nihal points to a couple of factors that can help you gain leverage. These include:

  • The strength of the founders
  • The experience in their particular niches and industries
  • Past experiences that have contributed to their success and growth up until this point
  • The size of the market


“Are they the only unique group of founders to really pull this off in the whole world? That means a lot to us. And, then, are they swinging for the fences, in terms of the market? That’s what we look for as venture investors. So we say, when companies shoot for the stars, they often fail and still land on the moon. So the market’s gotta be big, you know, for us.”

Lesson #3: Not Every Business Idea is Built for VC Funding

Knowing this matters because a rejection is never personal. And, even if it were, you should know that most business ideas are not built for VC funding.

The popularity of shows like Shark Tank, and the wide variety of Internet literature talking about B-round and C-round funding can make it seem like outside funding is not just the touted route, it’s the only route.

That’s simply not true.

Many founders have this misconception that external VC funding is the only way they can fund their business. But Most businesses are not meant for venture capital. Nihal acknowledges that VC funding is like rocket fuel, but only for very specific businesses.

Software, for example, is something that resonates well with VC funding. Things that are scalable, that don’t require a lot of human input, or ideas that require a ton of capital like Uber, can use the billions of dollars they’ll raise from funding rounds.

But there are a lot of incredible services businesses or creative ideas like artist production companies that may need funding. VC might not be the place for them — instead, they’re backed by angels, family and friends, or even like bank loans, so that they can grow.

“I think, unless you have something, like a defined digital product for example, you may not need a VC to step in.”

Instead, Nihal points to alternative resources such as crowdfunding. Campaigns run on platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo could potentially garner millions of dollars in funding without giving up any equity as well. And the main propeller behind this is that “regular” people are funding businesses that they want to see in the world.

High level VC funding is reserved for five or 10% of all businesses that prove to be the right fit on both sides.

Lesson #4: Use Specific Strategies to Compel a “Yes!” After You Follow-Up

There are a couple of practical techniques you can use to transform your rejections into introductions — and even wins.

Using Activating Language

When reaching out via email, you’re always trying to level up your game so you can learn and grow.

A good technique is to reach out, make an introduction, and then couch your “ask” using language like “while I have you…” In Nihal’s experience, this kind of “activating” language hooks the reader and makes the approach very friendly, casual, and coincidental.

They’re much more likely to say, “Yes!”

Use Data to Your Advantage

When reaching out for introductions or to create connections via email, data is your friend. And you should be using it to your advantage.

This means so much more than just “analytics.” Putting tracking cookies on your outreach emails and tracking whether your emails were opened or not can help you learn more about whether your emails are reaching them, are being read, or are remaining unopened.

From here, you can decide how to proceed and phrase that follow-up. If your recipient is on vacation, for example, then you know how to open up that topic.

Stay Gentle But Persistent

So what do you do if they don’t respond? You have to understand that people are quite busy and it’s not uncommon for individuals to read and then decide to get back to you later on.

Nihal himself will send two to three emails with varying language. But, as Eniac’s “human Rolodex,” he advises that you be gentle and not aggressive. Now, the data is important because, if you see that your recipient got the email and opened it, then you may consider being a little more aggressive.

After a series of sends-with-no-opens, Nihal recommends adding them to your “personal CRM.” If you add them to your monthly MailChimp mailing list, for example, then you’re still in their mind, you still keep in contact with them, but in a different cadence. That’s how you can make that individual a part of your network and you can nurture relationships with them.

They’re still “in the mix.”

“I remember…a female founder I met very early on. She’s based in Brooklyn, building a medical device workflow software for FDA approval. And by the way, we were never even looking for funding opportunities in that space. But when she pitches it it’s like the next best thing to slice bread. And when we first met her, we passed because it was too early, not a lot of traction, but she stayed in touch with us. And she did a great job of that, by the way, which is important. Create your own personal CRM people for that you meet, put them into a newsletter cycle, and email them once a month. If they don’t want to hear from you, they’ll unsubscribe. But, it’s just good to have folks that are reminded about your progress.”

Lesson #5: Build a Network and then Expand Your Brand

Another creative way to buffer against rejection (and transform them into introductions), is to take a brand- and network-building approach.

This method means you’re in it for the long haul. It might be more time consuming, but the relationships and visibility you’ll net are definitely worth it.

Nihal gets a question from a high-end residential interior designer who wants to expand her network. She’s looking for new leads outside her social circle and that of her clients, especially in the age of the global pandemic.

Here’s what he suggests:

  • Imagine the most epic people in your industry (experts) and reach out to them via LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Establish a virtual event conference or program and promote it on all social channels
  • When people sign up, those are your new leads. Even if not everyone who registers shows up, you still have a robust boost in prospects who are interested in what you have to offer
  • Your experts, their knowledge, and their workshops can help you convert customers. What’s more, they’ll also promote their presence to their own audiences
  • Suddenly, you have a replacement for the tradeshow and a healthy new audience for your mailing list.

If you focus on building your network first, you may not have to worry as much about rejections because your outreach won’t be on people who are “cold” or don’t know you at all. It will be with people who know you, like you, and even trust you.









Shama Hyder: A Media CEO’s 10 Top Tips for Persistent Selling in the Digital Age

Shama Hyder, founder and CEO of Zen Media, is an expert in social media and digital marketing. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by She shares her ten top tips to persistently sell in this digital era.

#1 Expand Your Definition of Social Media

When people hear the term social media, they think Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn, but there’s a much broader definition of social media. Once you look at it from that lens, it changes everything for you.

“Think about how many of us are now using Uber eats or Postmates or Yelp. How many of us Yelp restaurants before we try them? How many of us look at movie reviews before we decide what to watch? We let Netflix recommend, right? What, what we would enjoy bingeing on. So, this is all the power of social media. And that’s why I like to get people to think a little bit broader about influence in platforms rather than, Oh, it’s what I post on Facebook,” says Shama.

#2 Prioritize Customer Service and Personalization

Small businesses can beat their competitors across the board: in customer, customer service, and personalization. Small businesses can interact and engage with customers better than big businesses. And they are also often better at designing customer-specific solutions. That’s why they are often more successful at using social media. Business should persist in making the customer happy no matter how long it takes.

#3 Measure and Test Your Strategies

Keep measuring and testing your selling strategies. Keep a detailed record of the ROI from your outreaches. That would help you know which ones are working and which ones need tweaking. Even if the records seem trivial, it would come in handy someday.

#4 Focus on the Qualitative Benefits of Social Media

While not all posts may receive the same amount of engagement, they have qualitative benefits. Ultimately, you are building your brand and gaining exposure.

You have to realize that there’s a compounding interest enrolled with anything you do with social media. And that qualitative is very important.

#5 Engage Different Generations Differently

Not all your audiences engage in the same way. Now, we often try to measure engagement is using sort of gen Z methods: comments and likes. But with gen X and above, they consume content, but they’re not necessarily engaging with likes and comments. Knowing how each generation responds helps you tailor your messaging and know how to measure progress and impact.

#6 Be Consistent

Even if you give you a very basic example of, let’s say, you’re starting a YouTube channel, it might take five years to get your first hundred thousand subscribers. But at the five-year mark, when you hit that a hundred thousand, something happens; you tip the scales and all of a sudden, it’s much easier to reach the million and 2 million and so forth. What you realize is you are kind of compounding interest.

#7 Use Influencer Marketing

The brands that are succeeding on LinkedIn are the ones that are doing influencer marketing. You don’t have to have a huge presence; you can leverage someone else who does. Find influencers who have a pull on the target audience you are looking at and piggyback on their influence.

#7 Don’t Ignore Pinterest and YouTube

Pinterest is an amazing tool. Pinterest is a number three search engine and tons of people make sales decisions after exploring the site. That’s why you should take advantage of Pinterest.


Google is the number one search engine and guess what? YouTube is the second. Make sure your brand is visible on YouTube and you can use YouTube ads to reach more people.

#9 Talk About the Difference that You’re Making

Don’t be afraid to toot your own horns about the difference you’re making. While such things are often easier with non-profits, it is important for every business to highlight their difference. Talk about how your product is helping people and how your company is making a difference in the community.

#10 Find the Balance between Your Voice and What’s Relevant from the Audience

Balance is important. If you make it all about you, it’s not interesting. If you put too much emphasis on the audience, then you’ve lost your style. And it may take a while to hone your message. Experiment with different styles and figure out what works for you, and what your audience responds to.


Laura Vanderkam: A Time Management Expert’s Top Ten Tips on How the most successful people work from home

Working from home, especially during these challenging times, requires that we become intentional about how we spend our time. Remaining productive while managing work, family, and life, in general, requires that we master our time by setting clear boundaries. Only by paying attention to the way that we work, and by being protective of our time can we set ourselves up for success.

How do those general guidelines play out in real life? Here are time management guru Laura Vanderkam’s top tips for successfully working from home:

  1. Plan your week on Friday afternoon. Understand that you control your time and be mindful of how you spend it personally and professionally. Friday afternoons at the end of the workweek are a great time to reflect on what you’d like to accomplish in the next week. Meal plan, schedule family time, and consider what you’d like to achieve over the next week. Although many people do their weekly planning on Sunday, Vanderkam suggests Friday because it’s a good, low-opportunity-cost time to prepare. Besides, if you tackle this on Friday, you may actually get to enjoy your weekend.


  1. Set your office hours. One of the hardest things about working from home is the feeling that you can never escape work. One solution to this is setting your office hours. Clarify what’s expected of you, set office hours according to that, and adhere to those boundaries. If notifications come in after hours, address them first thing in the morning. This is vital to avoiding burnout. Keep a little flexibility in your schedule to handle the unexpected, though.


  1. Take a moment before you respond to that email or Slack notification. Consider setting a couple specific times to check your email, rather than letting your attention wander to incoming email notifications every time they come in. Moving from task to task reduces your productivity and costs valuable time transitioning into and out of your work every time you abandon what you are working on to address an incoming email. If it’s urgent, let people know that they can call you. Besides, this gives you a chance to mull things over and provide a correct response instead of an instant one.


  1. Focus your attention. The Pomodoro technique is an excellent idea. Designate times to focus on your most difficult tasks, then take a break either at the end of a timed period or upon reaching a natural stopping point.


  1. Be aware of your own energy cycle and factor that into the way that you work. For many, mornings are when you’re freshest and ready to tackle the most challenging things on your agenda. Perhaps consider scheduling meetings in the afternoon when you’re still functioning, but at a more routine level.


  1. Make a later list. Maintain your focus as you tackle your most difficult work by keeping a “later list” of ideas that come to mind. It’s like a running list of miscellaneous tasks that you plan to address outside of your focused work time.


  1. Create a ritual to end the day. Since working from home may not give you the physical option of clocking out, develop a ritual that signals your workday is over. Maybe it’s jotting down a line or two about what was successful about your day, or heading off to an activity that you enjoy. Looking forward to something at the end of the day will also make you more productive.


  1. Practice saying no so that you can say yes to big things. Boundaries are critical. It’s important to avoid saddling yourself with small, non-mission-critical tasks so you can save your creativity for bigger, speculative projects. Feel free to delegate or suggest alternatives.


  1. Give yourself time and space for critical, big-picture thinking. Schedule time for creative, bigger-picture planning when you’re fresh and alert before getting bogged down in the routine. Our brains are great at putting things together, but they need time to do that, so plan to mull things over during a walk to collect your thoughts.


  1. Find joy in the mundane. Plan small adventures that you look forward to, whether it’s making a new mac-n-cheese recipe or visiting a nearby park. These experiences keep things fresh and, ultimately, make life rich. If you enjoy your life outside of work, you’ll be more inclined to be effective in your work as well.


Successfully working from home is all about being very intentional with and protective of your time and space. Hopefully, Laura Vanderkam’s tips will give you plenty to consider as you move forward productively.


Emily Heyward: A branding expert’s top 10 tips to Persistently Standing Out in the Market

Effective branding is one of the ways to ensure your business remains competitive. But you’ll require persistence to keep promoting your brand to achieve success in business.

PR Strategist Emily Heyward engaged us in a conversation on branding. Here are ten valuable tips to persistent leadership that she provided.

  1. Be clear about your brand from the beginning.

Even before you launch your business, have clarity on your brand. This will guide you on how to express your story, as well as choose your aesthetics like logo and colors.

Consumers can feel your brand, so you need to know what emotion you want to elicit. Focus on the ‘why’ of your business so that you can tap into your consumers’ journey.

  1. Make your business story personally applicable.

Some businesses are motivated by the achievement of mission goals. For example, as part of South Asian women’s leadership you might want to empower immigrant women. However, if you communicate your branding message this way, you may lock out a large potential market.

Instead, have a values statement that appeals to a larger target audience. Tap into a human need like the desire for equality and belonging so that more people can buy into your brand.

  1. Connect your product’s functionality to an emotional feeling.

Many brands focus on the technical aspect of their products and services forgetting that other products perform the same function. You need to tap into an emotional feeling to differentiate you from your competitors.

For example, Airbnb have capitalized on people feeling they belong to a certain place once they book accommodation through the platform. People don’t like feeling like outsiders even when they travel.

Connecting the accommodation functionality to this emotional need has led to the success of the brand.

  1. Incorporate an element of surprise in your branding

Generally, there’s a certain branding expectation in each industry. For instance, when Tesla decided to venture into electric cars as a solution to pollution, you’d have expected a nerdy brand. However, they have incorporated fun as part of the brand.

Get an extra trait that’s typically not associated with the industry to create freshness around your brand.

  1. In a crowded market identify your unique value.

In an industry with so many competitors, you can get lost in creating lists of tasks you can do. Remember that people generally recall how you made them feel.

Focus on a unique thing you can offer a client and use it as your selling point.

  1. Identify a narrative line that interweaves many aspects of your brand.

People can wear different hats. For instance, you could be a media personality, a mom, and wellness enthusiast. You could be struggling with how to incorporate all these aspects of you without trying to sound like an expert in all.

Choose a common element in all aspects and then create a narrative. This way you can use all as different channels but under one brand roof.

  1. Focus on your core market and grow from there.

A core audience is important for every business. You want to have a group of people who are obsessed with your product first. You can then expand your reach but with the guarantee that you have loyal customers.

Many businesses make the mistake of changing branding and products to reach newer target markets at the expense of losing their core market.

  1. Find the right language to reach a wider market.

Inspirations to businesses stem from many personal inspirations that people are passionate about. An example would be art curated from a spiritual perspective. It can be difficult to market this kind of product because people may be caught up in the word spiritual.

Figure out how to broaden the meaning of the word spiritual in this case to accommodate a wider reach. Sometimes people don’t even know that they like a certain aspect or product until they are triggered by correct wording.

  1. As a brand, your actions should be louder than your words.

In a world where consumers are taking stands on various issues such as racial injustice, it’s important to take a stand as a business. Right now, silence also indicates a stand so you can’t play it safe by remaining silent on issues.

It’s not enough to say you condemn something, your actions in hiring, advertising and all aspects of business should communicate your stand.

Walk the talk!

  1. Build a community around your brand.

Subaru is a good example of a company that has done this well. The automobile brand has managed to create a community of drivers who share love for the brand. Even without personally knowing other Subaru drivers, the drivers feel as though they belong to a certain community.

Use your communication platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to build a community around your brand.

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Amanda Berlin: A PR Strategists top 10 tips to a successful social media collaboration

Persistence is an attribute that any successful leader must have. After all, success doesn’t happen overnight – it’s the result of having the ability to continue in the pursuit of goals no matter the challenges we face along the way.

Check out these ten insightful tips to persistent leadership from my chat with PR Strategist Amanda Berlin.

  1. Harness the power of collaborations and alliances.

Typically, when someone you know recommends a product to you, you’re more likely to try it out than if a stranger told you about the same product.

Creating alliances with other people results in a larger community hearing about your brand from someone they already trust. You can grow your community through such alliances.

  1. Collaborate with brands in a different niche but with a related audience.

When choosing who to partner with, choose a brand that you’re not in direct competition with but has a complementary audience. If you have a fitness business, you can collaborate with a brand that sells natural products or a wellness podcast, for example.

Such strategic partnerships give you a chance to market yourself to an audience that’s likely to purchase your products and services. At the same time, you also offer your partner a chance to reach an appropriate audience.

  1. Don’t be afraid to pitch collaboration ideas to other brands.

When you’re a small brand, it can be intimidating to reach out to big influencers and brands. Many times, big brands don’t respond to emails. However, persistence is key.

The worst thing that could happen is they’d say no, but they could also agree. Whichever way it goes, you’re not going to be worse off by trying.

  1. Pitch collaborations with a number of ideas but with an air of curiosity.

Remember that you’re collaborating with people who have their own ideas. Have a number of ideas of how you can partner for example it could be an interview or a panel discussion. However, create room for the other person’s ideas.

Both parties are looking to maximize the value they’re getting from the collaboration. It’s important that the interests of all the parties involved get served.

  1. Collaborate with brands whose values align with yours.

Currently, many businesses are doing Zoom, IG, and Facebook live collaborations. During live sessions, it can be hard to control the direction of a conversation. Your partners could present values that you don’t agree with as a business.

It’s important to choose a collaboration partner whose values are similar to yours. For example, as part of South Asian women’s leadership, you know what many of the leading businesses stand for.

Use this information to determine who would be a suitable partner before reaching out.

  1. Get clear on what you want to achieve from the collaboration.

Once you’ve gone through the introduction phase of your interaction with a potential partner, it’s important to clearly state what you expect from your agreement. This is after you have tabled your ideas and they have told you theirs.

After agreeing on how to collaborate, state your expectations.

It could be that you want your partner to talk about a certain product. Let them know that’s what you want from them. This helps everyone from gaining the desired value from a collaboration.

  1. Follow up on pitches and collaborative relationships.

Once you send your pitch to a prospective partner, they may sometimes fail to respond immediately. Once again, persistence is important here. You could reach out again by using their more recent content to propose another idea of collaboration.

If you’ve done a partnership on a product you can email them and let them know you posted on it. Then follow up with metrics on the performance of the campaign. The idea is to create a valuable relationship.

  1. Turn your core supporters into ambassadors.

You may realize that during live sessions on various platforms, there’s a certain group that’s always present and you would like to expand your audience.

Turn your core followers into brand ambassadors. Ask them to invite two or three friends, especially when the sessions are free. Tell them the details of planned campaigns and interactions.

Create a call-to-action around growing your community.

  1. Focus on growing organically.

Depending on the size of your brand, you may lack funds for paid ads. Focus on using your followers as micro influencers for organic growth. Reach out to a few who love your brand and ask them to share something specific.

However, you should allow them to also do it their way to foster interactions with their followers.

  1. Create relationships that offer strategic benefits over the long-term.

Sometimes, you may reach out to a bigger brand and they decline your request to collaborate. Think of a different way to create a relationship. You could interview the person or market their product and inform them of the performance metrics.

Follow up with them until you get to a point where you’re on similar levels of authority.

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My 9 Tips for Persistent Time Management

Women in my membership often complain “How do I manage my time better?”

Time is such a specter.

It’s become more fluid and without boundaries during the pandemic.

The other question I get is “How do you manage your time?”

Here are my top 9 tips


I take 20 minutes to sit quietly first thing in the morning. Trevor Blake talks about the practice of taking quiet time in his book Three Simple Steps. Twenty minutes is the magic amount of time it takes for the brain to form new neurons. These neurons have no memory of what has happened before so I tackle my day with a whole new arsenal of decision making power. This daily practice has made me less reactive and less emotional. I see situations for what they are. I don’t take things personally. At the end of my work day, I walk. This allows me to clear my head and may be make new connections between ideas that I had not thought of while sitting at my desk.


For years, I rose between 2:30 and 3:45am to get to the television studio for work. There wasn’t ’90 minutes’ to dedicate. I hurtled straight into my work day. When I became a full time entrepreneur running LadyDrinks, I thought to myself, if I can get up at 2:30, I can get up at 5:30am and workout. It took me a year to establish this habit. I started by going to Pure Barre classes. Sadly, I could go, even if I was hungover. Then I added one HIIT training class. Then another. Then another. Today, my first 90 minutes of the day follow the menu featured in Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning. Silence. Affirmations. Visualization with my vision board. Exercise. Reading either a book about a famous business person (Bob Iger or Marc Randolph) or the New York Times. Scribing or writing in my Morning Pages to build self awareness.


Anxiety wells up on Sundays as I think about all the things I have to do. Writing it all down on paper and getting it out of my head is the biggest favor I can do for myself. David Allen calls it the “The Brain Dump Exercise. ” I use 9″ x 12″ artist’s sketchpad to scribble all my personal and professional tasks, down to the grocery list of tofu, garlic shrimp and chickpeas. This bumps me to my next step.


I look out on the week‘s worth of commitments. Where are the pockets of time to get this errand done? What do I need to get before that meeting on Friday? I schedule in the important phone calls, emails, reminders. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it usually doesn’t get done.


Each night, before I go to bed, I plan out my day. I use Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Planner to list my top three goals and priorities for the day. I list what tasks must be done. I look where the blocks of time are to do the deep work. I love that the planner forces me to think about who I want ‘to be’ the next day. I never did that before. Not intentionally anyway. It forces me to list at least one person I will reach out to and surprise with a note or gift the next day. Sometimes, I’m stumped by the question: What is the one thing you can get excited about. It forces me to take inventory of what I’m doing.


My women’s empowerment teacher Jennifer Macaluso Gilmore taught my women’s co-hort a valuable piece of advice in 2010: we can only have 2 priorities at a time. We can have five total. But we can truly only focus on 2 priorities at a time. When those are finished, we bump down to the next two. I keep mine listed in my planner. It becomes the filter by which I decide what I say ‘yes’ to and what I say ‘no’ to.


Depending on which technique you subscribe to, either time increment works in getting deep work done. I set the timer on my phone for 25 minutes. I also set my computer notifications to ‘do not disturb’ and put my phone away. For twenty five minutes, also known as the Pomodoro technique, I work in a focused way on a task, such as this article. Brendon Burchard asks folks to find 3 50-minute blocks in the day instead, and do a sprint of work.


I don’t know that my younger self took this seriously. It’s incredibly important to your productivity to take breaks. As the day progresses, it’s important to take longer breaks to allow the brain to hit the re-set button. Former LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote in this well-read blog post, it’s not only important to take breaks, but to plan rewards for those breaks as incentive to finish the work. Make a list of those rewards and post it somewhere you can see it: “Walk around the block. Pedicure. Read Netflix book” so you aren’t scrambling to figure out how to reward yourself when the break comes.


If all of this sounds overwhelming, take it down to basics. For one week, write down what you do each hour throughout the day. Author and time management expert Laura Vanderkam created her own trademark spreadsheet to log this kind of activity. Looking it all down on paper is an eye opener. You see where you are wasting time. She created this exercise to debunk the common phrase, “I don’t have time to ______ (fill in the blank.) You do. You just don’t know how long it takes you to do something, like create that end of week report. You also don’t know that you spend 2 hours scrolling through social media each day. Vanderkam is all about the ‘found’ hours in the 168 hour work week.

She’s actually one of my favorite authors of all time. I will be interviewing her next Thursday as she launches her new e-book THE NEW CORNER OFFICE: HOW THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE WORK FROM HOME. I would love for you to join me to learn how she counsels folks who are challenged with how to manage time. Sign up here