Embracing the Sky: Leveraging Technology at 39,000 Feet

When we talk about “working in the cloud,” it’s usually in reference to the digital realm—files stored online, accessible from servers around the world rather than our local hard drives. But let’s take a moment to reminisce about the original clouds—the fluffy, white ones that float above, turning ominous before a storm.

Last year, I had the unique opportunity to work in those original clouds, and no, it’s not a metaphor. My office was 39,000 feet above planet Earth. While this might sound like a nerve-wracking prospect to some, for seasoned business travellers, it’s become the norm.

Armed with a tablet and other mobile devices, daily tasks and much more can be seamlessly accomplished while jet-setting on business trips—or, in my case, returning from a holiday in the UK.

So, how does this airborne productivity unfold? The airline I flew with provided WiFi access via satellite for a nominal fee, enabling me to respond to emails and check my calendar. All the necessary documents were on my tablet, along with the essential apps. Once I completed my tasks, I uploaded the documents to the digital version of the cloud, making them accessible to my assistant.

In the dynamic landscape of technology, constant change and improvement pave the way for enhanced productivity. For me, staying abreast of current technology transforms idle time into valuable productivity. The idea of having the option to get ahead on my workweek during a 6.5-hour flight is empowering. Yes, the surroundings were a tad cramped, but it worked.

As technology continues to evolve, the possibilities for leveraging travel time productively are boundless. Do you seize the opportunity to embrace technology while on the move, or do you prefer to use travel time as a moment to relax and unwind?

Mastery

business masteryMany business owners start off with a great idea that will change the world and, through time and effort, they will evolve personally and professionally to be the best in their field.   Though you might not think of it these terms, what they are actually doing, actually reaching for, is “mastery”.

You know this, because you work day and night, you have put in the hours of work, training, research, and sweat.  I don’t have to tell you that becoming the master of business requires hard work.  Malcom Gladwell would tell you that it takes 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to master a skill.

Imagine watching the best Formula One driver, or the most incredible ballerina.   They make their chosen trade look so easy, and accessible.  It is only when you attempt to duplicate the complex beauty of the Dance of Sugar Plum Fairy (reported to be one of the most difficult roles to dance), or harness the 1000 horsepower around a turn pulling 3 G’s in a Formula-1 car, you realize that just because something looks easy doesn’t mean it is.

And that may be true for something like ballet or the violin where the skill is quantifiable.  Becoming a master in your field of business however, is much more than “time in” on any endeavour.

As I look around there are any number of businesses supplying goods and services to their customers in thousands of industries.  What separates the successful from those who have become a master at their industry is a gritty combination of discipline, hard work, humility and generosity.  Most of us would agree with the first three, but generosity?

There’s an old adage, “if you want to learn something well, teach it to someone else”. In order to teach well, it requires that you face your presuppositions about things, unearth those ideas that you didn’t even realize you believe.  Being the master of any subject (even one that you invented) requires you to be able to objectively look at whatever you’re doing and seeing ways it can be improved.   To teach someone else what you know requires a certain generosity. After so many years of defending your own turf, that can be difficult, but that generosity has the reward of unearthing flaws in your system in order to improve them, and you cannot master what you think is perfect.

The High Price of ‘Doing the Paperwork’

When you think of the most expensive admin assistant on the Planet, you might think of someone like Tony Stark’s assistant who puts up with all his quirks, but who is handsomely paid for her hardship. Or a billionaire’s assistant who is available 24/7 and at a moment’s notice may be called upon to drop everything and jump on a plane to Tokyo to attend meetings with their boss. You might think that…… and you would be wrong.

YOU.. yes.. you… are the most expensive admin assistant on the planet.

How can this be true? It’s because studies show that administrative tasks take up as much as 25% of an organization’s time.

So, what does this mean? Before we even talk about the dollar cost of this truth let’s talk about time. As a business owner, working a very conservative 60 hours a week, this equates to 15 hours per week. Which may not seem like that much, but how about when we look at the annual cost of this truth?

720 HOURS per year the average business owner spends on administrative tasks, that’s THREE MONTHS!  Take that 720 hours and multiply by your client charge out rate.  Not only is that a lot of money for doing back-office work that you shouldn’t be doing in the first place, it’s also money you haven’t billed because you’ve been doing “the paperwork”.  If you outsourced these tasks alone at a much lower rate (hopefully) than you bill your clients, just think what you could do with an extra three month’s worth of time and a whole lot of extra money every year!!!

  • How could your organization grow?
  • What activities could you do with your family?
  • How could you invest in your network and members?
  • How could you serve your community?

If you have ever thought, “if only I had more time…” (you know that’s just an excuse, right?!?) and yet repeatedly find yourself burning the midnight oil filing invoices, inputting information into a database, updating your social media (or wishing you had time for social media)…

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day so why not change things up and use those hours to full advantage?

Outsourcing : the view from here

what is outsourcingOutsourcing of services is becoming more and more mainstream and with the abundance of former corporate workers who have vast knowledge and experience and now run their own businesses, you will likely be able to find someone to help you for a reasonable amount of money. Just as business owners can operate from just about anywhere, resources can provide services from anywhere. But whatever your needs are, always remember: “buyer beware”!!

Here’s a few things to consider when outsourcing:

  • The lowest priced outsourced solution may not be the best; good people cost money and beware that even these days, you still get what you pay for.
  • If you’re just starting out, outsource from the very beginning with a Virtual Assistant and a bookkeeper and grow your team from there. As your business grows, you can take on a web designer, a ghost writer, a graphic designer, an executive assistant, a project manager, etc.
  • Don’t outsource a task just because you don’t want to do it. There will be tasks that only you can do because they’re important to operations and strategic plan.
  • Always strike a fair deal with your resources and treat them with respect. You’re relying on them to handle important tasks for you and your business so don’t take advantage of them.
  • Bartering. This is a great way to get things done for no cost in exchange for services. Make sure that you and the resource are clear about the terms and that the services you each provide are both what you want. Beware that this mode of payment isn’t for everyone.

On the personal side of your life, you might think about outsourcing to further free up your time:

  • A personal assistant to help keep you and your family organized;
  • Housekeeper/house cleaning service;
  • Property maintenance;
  • Grocery service, errand service

When I first started my remote support agency, I thought I would lay-off my housekeeper, thinking that since I would be working from home, I could manage the house myself. A very wise business coach I met during my early networking days advised me against it. The reason? “You’re going to be at work during the day.” She was correct, of course, and my housekeeper is still with me to this day. What are your priorities? What would make your life easier and be less stressful for you? Give it some thought!