3 | Time Management
Writing has always helped me organize my mind and then my life, usually in that order. So when Loren Gray told me I needed to do a podcast, I was not very excited. I am not really on the podcast train.
That isn’t entirely true – I do listen to two podcasts pretty religiously – The first is called Sleep with me and trust me, it isn’t what you think. I cannot quite figure out how it works but I will be forever grateful to Will Traynor for introducing me to it. It is a podcast that puts you to sleep. I have an echo dot in my bedroom and when I cannot fall asleep (or back to sleep) I say, Alexa, play the Sleep with me Podcast and on comes this very odd man. He doesn’t necessarily have a soothing voice and honestly, I cannot tell you exactly why or how, but he puts me to sleep almost immediately. I mean, right away – I cannot tell you even one topic that he talks about because I never make it that far and I am out. I am just hopeful that he isn’t doing some sort of suggestive hypnosis that is telling me to do nefarious things. But, it is a risk I am obviously willing to take in order to get some good sleep!
The second podcast I listen to is called Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum. Again, not what you think. Michael Rosenbaum played Lex Luthor on one of my all time favorite television shows, Smallville. Michael interviews people in a very interesting way. In truth, most of his interviews end up revealing much more about Michael than his guests, though not always! But he does talk about himself a fair amount which I actually find endearing and charming. Plus, he often interviews Tom Welling who played Clark Kent in the same series and he is just a crush.
But in terms of doing my own podcast, I didn’t think that it would be wise to model my own podcast after either of those. Putting people to sleep or talking a lot about myself. No, definitely not. So I scrolled around the intraweb to see exactly what podcasts were about, what people liked to listen to. Brene Brown tops Apple’s list, I love her but no. There are quite a few podcasts about murder and crime solving. Again, no. Coronavirus. I already do a website about that so no. An then just some very quirky stuff. That’s it. I am naturally quirky, that is a model I can follow. And I know a lot of quirky people so I can also interview them.
So I am pretty sure the quirky factor can make my podcasts interesting. But, I would also like to add some value, and the name of my podcast is hospitality sales so I should probably somehow tie it into sales. So, I am going to do the quirky guide to sales as my theme. I will share weird stuff I have done, and I will interview other people who I also know that have done some weird stuff. Some of the weird stuff has turned out to be very profitable, some of it has turned out to be disastrous, so I will try to present both as I know for sure you can learn a lot from other’s successes – but also their failures.
And also – I can write out my content first! I doubt that is how the best podcasters do it, but I prefer writing to talking so that is how I am going to do mine. It helps me organize my mind. And then I can also provide the transcripts so it is actually more efficient. Which is one of my favorite things to be.
So, since I have taken up a good portion of my time today explain what I am going to do, I will only have time to share one quirky story about myself that I hope you will find helpful in your own journey.
I do an 8 page excel sheet for my news year’s resolutions. And honestly, I do not know how anyone else gets through their life without also doing the same. I have done this for the past 20 years probably. And while I can’t say I have accomplished everything on those spreadsheets, I can say that what I have accomplished is because I mapped them out – or at least some version of them.
I will try to explain. When I was 22 years old I got my first job in hotel sales. It was at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston and I think I made about $24,000 a year. Back then, everyone’s monetary goal was to make $30k by the time they were 30. Funny.
My original plan for my life was to be a spy and work for the CIA. I had a brilliant Russian history professor when I was a freshman at Mount Holyoke but the name of Peter Verrick. He made me fall in love with all things Russian – well, him and maybe Baryshnikov. So naturally I became a Soviet politics major (which should give you some hint at how very old I am). My master plan was to go to work for the CIA. Remember Dr Fiona Hill from the impeachment? That is who I was supposed to be.
I had started working part time at a hotel company because I played soccer with a woman who knew I needed beer money and she had a job opening. The company was called Guest Quarters and I worked at the central reservations office while I finished my degree in Soviet politics. When I graduated I actually went to the then Soviet Union and spent 3 months studying Russian and culture and made a bunch of friends there.
When I returned to the states I began my CIA interviews. At that time, the process took about a year, much to my surprise. There were many interviews, security clearances, tests, it was an ordeal. So I needed a job to tide me over in the meantime so I called Guest Quarters, assuming they would make me a VP or something since after all, I did speak Russian. Sort of. Oddly enough, they did offer me a job, but as a desk clerk at their hotel in Alexandria, VA. At a salary of $13,000 a year. Oh well, it was just temporary.
Happily, the CIA was very eager to have me on board. I started the interview process and the testing. Just so you know, of course I wanted to be a spy – or an operative as they called it. And on my 2nd or 3rd interview the guy said to me, being an operative isn’t hard. You go to foreign countries, you make friends, and then you manipulate those friendships. Hmmm. I don’t think I had ever really thought about that part of it. I started thinking of all of my sweet Soviet friends I had made in Kharkov over the summer and I thought, oh crap. I don’t want to do that for a living. And that was the end of that. I will say, the CIA pursued me for quite some time after that, and sometimes I wonder if I couldn’t have done something else for them, but instead, I said no thanks and set about trying to figure out my next career.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, I was a TERRIBLE front desk clerk. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I forgot to key in some one’s wake up call or how many dirty rooms I checked people into. I mean, I was awful. But, I am sort of entertaining and the guests and my coworkers seemed to like me so pretty soon I was promoted to reservations manager. I think my managers thought I might do less damage there, and they were right. I LOVED talking on the phone to people. I was born with a very natural curiousity about people so I tend to be nosy or engaging, depending on how you view it. I ended becoming great professional friends with most of the hotels key accounts, knew everything about their business and it was a blast. So of course, everyone assumed I should be in sales.
And I thought that was maybe a good idea because at that time, salespeople got to drink wine at lunch when they took clients out and they got free dry cleaning. So, at the ripe old age of 22, I got my first sales job.
Going out and finding business was nothing like just chatting with people on the phone. I had a cold call quota – – in person mind you –of 40 sales calls a week. I was working for a new hotel, we had no past customers so it was all about the prospecting . and back when I was in sales, you would go out, start on the top floor of an office building and knock on every door until you hit every office. And then the next day you would do that again.
Some of you might think that sounds horrible, but honestly, I sort of loved it. The only problem was, I also had to do all this other stuff too – contracts and paperwork and meetings and all kinds of stuff, so I would get really frustrated and cranky because I couldn’t get it all done. Then one day my boss made us all read this book – how to get control of your time and your life by Alan Lakein. It honestly changed my life.
The general concept was, begin with the end in mind – what do you want people to say about you when you die? Then work backwards. And eventually you will have today’s to do list. I am oversimplifying it, and in fact may be combining some 7 habits stuff in it, but generally, the point was, identify some big long term goals, prioritize them and then break them down into bite size pieces that you can get done in 10 minutes.
So if I wanted to be successful in sales, I knew I had to make that quote – those 40 calls a week. In order to do that, I had to figure out how to get this other stuff done. So I would map out my week, but my sales calls were always my A’s – biggest priority – so I made time for those first.
And that is how my 8 page excel spreadsheet new year’s resolution was born. Once a year I sit down and take a good look at my longer term goals. Have they shifted? I look at how I actually spend my time – because what you actually make time for is actually what you either like to do or what you think is best for you. And then I make updates, realign some things and start the process all over again. I map out my big goals for the next 5 years, prioritize them into some annual steps, then break it down to quarters, monthly, weekly daily. Not always – not everything ends up weekly or daily, but I have them so I won’t forget them. And to the best of my ability, I update it every week.
Some years I am very successful, some years I am awful. But I promise you, the years when I stay focused and committed, I am always happier.
So that is what I hope you walk away with today. For me, this system of organizing my life works beautifully. I am not sure it would work for everyone, but my advice is to try and find something that helps you spend your time working on things that will help you get to where you want to go. The only thing you actually get to manage is your time. Even if you have two jobs that dictate how you spend 12 or 14 hours every day, or kids who require a big chunk, if you have 10 minutes or 10 hours to fill, how you fill it matters. You can either do nothing about it and hope for the best, or you can make some conscious decisions about how you are going to spend that time.
And during this crazy coronavavirus time, this is more important than ever. I allow myself a little more grace right now – I am not quite as demanding of myself as I usually am – but I have some goals and chip away at them every day. Like doing a podcast…
I hope you found this a little helpful. Each week I promise to try to give a little bit of quirky, a lesson or two learned and all within around 15-20 minutes.
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About Hospitality Sales Podcast
Loren Gray with Hospitality Digital Marketing convinced me to create a biweekly podcast – “It’ll be easy” he said. Not so much. But really rewarding. I ended up interviewing some fantastic people in between my own sales podcast rants. I hope you enjoy!