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Playing with LinkedIn's Answers feature - Time, cutting costs, and the meaning of life (part 1/2)

I've been trying out LinkedIn's new Answers feature in the two obvious ways (asking and answering) to see if a) I can help people, b) establish myself as an authority, and c) open myself up to networking and potential clients. So far I've asked one question (How did you get clients when you started your consulting practice?) and answered a dozen or so of the deepest or most interesting ones.

In this post I'd like to share some of my answers (more next week). None were voted "best answer," but hey - maybe folks found them helpful.

In a future post I'll look at if and how this is valuable to self-employed consultants. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from anyone who's had luck with this feature, or LinkedIn in general.

Are you getting the time to get your job done?

Specifically, I have been involved with three turnaround situations. Short of it, business has been performing poorly due for years to a number of reasons: lack of focus/direction, goals and objectives, etc.

However, when there is a taste of change and the balance sheet shows a positive trend, the leaders tend to get greedy, and demand more in a shorter time. This causes a stress on the organization, the process, and the people. Once the trend slips on the goal of "taking the mountain", there is a sour taste in the leader's mouth.

Your thoughts, opportunities, risks, suggestions?
I think there are two factors - how much you've committed to doing, and how much time you want to allocate to doing it all. Given the hectic pace of modern work and life (much as you indicate in your description of the turn-around) not being totally clear on either of these can lead to problems, either leaks in your system (things you committed to but didn't follow-up on, or were waiting for, but didn't get), or terrible work/life balance issues (stress from being over-committed, not enough time at home, etc.)

Once you're 100% on top of your life (i.e., you know everything you said you'll do), you can start figuring out what's most important, and making the most mature choice possible in the moment. In addition, you start getting clearer about what you can delegate, and what you *don't* want to do. This may also enable meaningful conversations with CEOs, partners, etc. about what's realistic. ("Here's what's on my plate, here's what I have time for, what do you want me to focus on?"

Hope that helps!

What do you value in life? And how do you create value for yourself?

I am looking to gain insight on others on what they value in life, be it their relationships at home, at work, in social settings, in nature, in the quality of their life.

Big question for all, but good to think about.
Determining value is a personal choice, and requires introspection. Personally I like this list of values (from a progressive think tank - see URL):

Empathy, Opportunity, Responsibility, Prosperity, Strength, Community, Protection, Service, Fairness, Cooperation, Fulfillment, Trust, Freedom, Honesty

But the trick, as you point out in your second question, is how to *live* those values. As Jacob Bronowski puts it, "The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation."

In other words, there needs to be a direct connect between values and actions. In fact, I'd argue that the opposite (a disconnect) is what leads to much internal suffering.

And how to connect them? Adopt a self-management system that brings the "rubber to the road," i.e., one that captures those actions that move your values ahead, and facilitates your moving forward on them. The methodology I teach (based on the book "Getting Things Done") is ones such approach.

Good luck!

What type of work would you do to attain a higher degree of work and personal-life satisfaction?

I'd say it depends on what you love, and what you are good at, which varies from person to person. Life's a balance between ideals and reality, but a first step might be getting clear about what you love - where your passion is. Often we compromise - I like this quote from the story "Is Your Job Your Calling" (URL below):
Everyone tries to do something that seems like the wise thing to do-but that you shouldn't do: compromise. You've got two competing needs or desires-say, independence and security-and you try to find the position that's halfway between them. Typically that doesn't work.
The reason I'm thinking about this is that I just resigned from a steady job to do something risky, but which I care about. Will it be a mistake? I hope not! (I wrote about it in "Commitment Time! (Taking the big leap)"

Best of luck.

What are some creative ways you have cut costs for your company or for your clients?

At the individual level, helping people to become more efficient (and therefore more effective) can both cuts costs and generate more income. Why does this happen? Consider time/money wasted:
  • looking for information (vs. doing something with it),
  • responding to inquiries/commitments slowly (or not at all) (vs. quick turn-arounds)
  • working on the wrong (low-ROI) tasks (vs. ones that impact bottom line and goals)
  • etc.
Why do I care? I teach people how to work on the most important things, with a sense of relaxed control. However, the big picture is that, once a client gets on top of all of her work and life commitments, she often has some "aha" moments at the forest (vs. tree) level, which can translate into the innovative/creative ideas that she's great at - new product ideas, improved ways to do things, etc. Fun!

What type of strategies do you have to manage and reply to all of your email every day?

I set my clients up using the "Getting Things Done" methodology, which applies to *all* inputs in life, including email. It has you emptying your inboxes every 24-48 hours, but not necessarily *doing* everything in them (impossible), but making decisions, and putting reminders of actions in appropriate places for when you have time to do them.

Email is tough due to the volume, and the addictive nature of it. There are good resources listed below, including the 43 folders links.

Finally, you should consider how quickly you really need to respond to emails, which will depend on your job, and your business. Checking too frequently can stop you from doing the "heavy lifting" work that might be more valuable to you and your organization. I've included a link to my article "Depressurize your email with a 24 hour response time" in case you'd like to read more.

Good luck!

What is the meaning of life

That depends on the framework(s) you use in interpreting life, and what your goals are. If you choose a religious framework, then you can tap into their questions/answers.

If not, you have to determine your own meaning, which usually involves tuning in to what you love - your passions - as well as your skills. There are many books on the topic. One I like is "Is your genius at work" by Dick Richards, but anything that gets you asking questions and thinking is good. You might also enjoy Steve's post "How to discover your life purpose in about 20 minutes".

The catch? Often that internal voice that knows what you love and what you're good at is very soft, and can only be heard when you quiet down your mind. Some people find meditation helps, but for me I needed something more applied/mechanical - which is exactly why I teach the "Getting Things Done" methodology for getting on top of everything in your work and life. I found that once I cleared my head of the low-level things, I had mental room to ask (and answer) the bigger questions. Good stuff!

Reader Comments (2)


I read your post and had to ask a follow-up question, what happened as a result of your dozen or so interactions? Will this be included in part two?



January 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Great question, Chris. Yes, I'll talk about them then. I was also hoping to hear from others who've tried it. Thank you for reading.

February 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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