Seventhman Blog

  1. There’s No Such Thing as Multitasking!

    "multitasking myth"Each time my day ends, I would often ask myself if I’m getting more things done with all the tasks I have to juggle around.  Time management is a major issue among entrepreneurs and staying productive is something of a hit or miss deal for many.  The solution is simple: Multitasking.  But, are those who multitask effective at their jobs?  I might as well borrow Douglas’ words and say that doing so is like ‘reading this blog while cooking dinner, watching the news on TV, and riding a stationary bicycle…’ and I can’t blame him if he made a case out of it and brought the myth to the limelight.  I will have to agree though, that multitasking doesn’t work.

    Breaking Through Multitasking Perceptions

    There’s a new study that shows that those who think they have awesome multitasking skills are really bad at it.  So, the next time you see someone looking confident, talking on their cell phones while driving, I’d stay far away and be very cautious.  Also, it has been proven in previous research that those who multitask often produce sub-par quality where work is concerned.  On top of that, there’s the extra stress for trying to do many things at once.  You might be wondering why I’m writing about this topic.  It was inspired by this post from Kenneth on this Multitasking Myth, where my response got me intriguing reactions to start with.  Job seekers often flaunt being able to multitask like it’s some kind of a special skill.. when it’s actually not.  It spells poor quality, easily distracted and missing deadlines to me.  But, what’s really a cause for concern is that those who believe they are good multitaskers think they are better than everyone else.

    The Anatomy of Multiple Distractions

    Another mystery of the human brain is how it processes data and sends out decisions, one step at a time.  Those who multitask may have some chemical imbalance that makes them addicted to doing lots of things at once because they somehow feel justified being so busy.. and unfortunately, distracted.  Technology may be a contributing factor, especially when we can do so many things on our screens with just a touch.  If you have felt like you’ve reached a tipping point and you can’t wait to get away from your gadget, you know what I mean.  All these information clutter, interruptions may simply be too much.  Is it then right to say that multitasking is born out of boredom from the daily work routine?  You may feel like you’re doing a great balancing act, but doing so can impair your cognitive ability, not to mention.. your creativity.

    Learning the Art of Delegation

    When you’re just starting a business, you can put a lot on your plate.  While you want to be hands-on during the initial phase, wearing many hats may wear you down real fast.  Here’s where you have to consider getting extra help to lessen the load.  This is where outsourcing comes in, where you outsource tasks that you hate doing, those you’re not good at doing and those that you can delegate easily.  Then, it leaves you more room in brainstorming strategies for growing your business.  You have to use your time wisely and just the same, you need to learn to trust people to add value.  Sit down and take time to make a list of tasks you want to outsource and assign priority levels to each.  Outsourcing is not an easy way out, but an extra cushion for your feet as you walk this rocky path towards success.

    And if you need help growing your business with global outsource consulting, all you need to do is ASK.

  2. Outsourcing Customer Service in the Digital Age

    "outsourcing customer service"Everyone in business knows that good customer service is not an option; it is a MUST.  When customers are the very blood that’s keeping your organization alive, will it be a smarter option to outsource service to vendors so you can save on cost?  For the past few years, support functions have been a major contributor in globalization as companies outsource their workforce to call center hub spots like India and the Philippines.  Still, the very question these days is how you can find balance in the human and technical side of things when providing service to your customers.

    Customer Service in the 21st Century

    No matter how technology allows for instant connection, there are people who still feel assurance speaking to a live person.  For this reason, contact centers have fully integrated online, mobile, social and landline communications.  This means monitoring customer queries and conversations online and offline, 24×7 – from phone queries, call routing, live chat, fax, website queries, emails, SMS, mobile touch points, interactive voice response (IVR) and social networks like Facebook, Twitter..  Whether you choose to outsource to vendors here or abroad, or hire the services of a home-based agent is not the focus these days.  Those who provide an awesome customer service knows that empowering your team to personalize each call for help will win your business more loyalty.  Your front-liners must reflect your genuine interest to help and add value to your customers.

    Motivating your team to go beyond the usual service metrics and customer satisfaction scores can be tough if you’re working with a hundred or more.  Are you ready to encourage them to take chances in making your customers happy?  Read This First:  To Create Innovation, You Must Inspire Loyalty First

    The Rise of Unsourcing

    You probably haven’t heard of this word yet and many are speculating it to be the next gen of customer support.  Instead of outsourcing support to a third party, the company sets up an online community that enables peer-to-peer support among its users.  Not only will customers get help from those with the same experience, but they get to interact with someone who’s local.  This way, advocates of unsourcing can lessen instances of irate customers and minimize the cost of customer service via outsourcing.  This knowledge-sharing is further encouraged through gamification, like awarding badges to top contributors and giving out perks.  Still, there are limits to this where confidential data is concerned, like billing.  Will this mark the end of outsourcing services as we know it?  Too soon to tell, I’d say.

    Should You Still Outsource Customer Service?

    The answer is YES – if only you understand how to do it right.  You have to carefully analyze the risks and benefits, the skills and resources you will need.  It’s not an easy path or a band aid fix to your business problems.  It’s stepping away from the usual cost saving notion and thinking about ways on how to manage customer relationships for real.  Just in case, you need to have that realistic approach before you even sign that contract with your vendor.  The key to a successful customer service lies not in training your team to deal with irate calls or tough questions; it’s all about teaching them how to listen to your customers’ wants and needs.

    It’s an evolving process.

  3. Are You Spending More Time on Bad Customers?

    "bad customers"There’s an argument that bad salespeople lead to bad customers, if ever you’re wondering why you are attracting the wrong type of market to your business.  Perhaps, there is truth to this statement because when customers are made to focus on the pricing and features of your product, they end up not getting interested in the value you provide.  This is why they will continue to focus on price alone and if you’re running your business on a freemium model, the greatest challenge is how to convert them into paying subscribers.  If you want to be a highly productive entrepreneur this year, I’d say it’s time to be honest in getting rid of the bad apples – for good.

    Does Social Media Empower Bad Behavior?

    There are many tales of brand-bashing last year that made me wonder how social media is creating a new bad when it comes to customer experience.  We’ve seen angry mobs take on a brand on social networks, spreading bad news like some digital wild fire.  There are many trolls who will add fuel to the fire and there’s just no sense of guilt since they’re bullying a brand, not a person.  It’s so easy to post a bad review under anonymity or a fake profile, those who do don’t feel any accountability over their actions.  The boundary between freedom of speech and online bullying is yet to be defined…

    The Customer is Always Right.. Not Really

    I hate to break it to you, but this fallacy is what’s draining the life out of your team. Truth is, there’s such a thing as bad customers and they are:

    1. The deadbeat client who won’t pay their invoices on time, for whatever reasons
    2. The stingy customer who will always ask you to cut corners and make changes until you run out of business
    3. The freeloader who will only stick with you if you provide everything for free for the longest time running
    4. The terrorizing client who will use fear to get what s/he wants ( and get on everyone’s nerves as well )
    5. That rude customer who loves to throw in the f-bombs and swear words you don’t really want to hear
    6. That customer with constantly changing needs, who expect full service treatment on a tight budget
    7. Those frequent complainers who connive to get some form of compensation from you – from full refunds to big discounts
    8. The nit-pickers who will constantly check on you, expecting you to work like a seamless machine 24/7
    9. The needy customer who will ask for endless advice and lots of attention
    10. and those who simply do nothing.. after all the time, free advice, discounts and extra mile you have thrown in

    Here’s the good news:  You can rehabilitate these bad eggs.  Most customers aren’t that bad, just ill-educated on the value that your business provides.  Persuading troublesome customers to become good ones can be a tough job and it’s your call to convert them into believers.

    My Advice:  Know when it’s the right time to push away those who drag your business down.. so you can cultivate the right relationship and inspire loyalty instead.

    Good Luck!

  4. To Create Innovation, You Must Inspire Loyalty First

    "innovation inspire loyalty"If there’s one thing I haven’t enjoyed as a client managing outsourced talents, it’s getting straight talk when things go wrong.  I believe it’s only human to avoid bad news, so much as becoming its torch bearer.  The truth is that the days of lifetime employment are over and we’re now seeing a shift to agile workers who defy time, culture and place.  In a perfect world, you would want to have top talents who are loyal to your brand.  Those who share their skills, offer solutions, add valuable ideas, help the team and boost the morale of the group – are a gem.  They are the very heart of successful companies.

    Loyalty:  The Tie that Binds Creativity and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

    To my fellow business owners, the real question to ask yourselves is this: How open are you at encouraging your people to take chances?  There have been many bad stories that add to the list of nightmares any client can have, whether running a virtual team or managing a vendor-client relationship.  While everyone is in the quest for innovation, sometimes, the problem here is not really logical.. but emotional.  Mistakes do happen and you know that there’s a risk in every business.  Why take the blame on the person completely?  The more you practice this, the backward your business model will be.  You have taken all the risk to become the leader that you are.  It’s time to support your people to take smart risks and learn, don’t you think?

    How to Inspire Loyalty in Outsourced Teams

    A loyal employee makes for a winning team.  When you’re dealing with cultural and geographical differences, the challenge is even tougher.  The key here is giving everyone your flexible and undivided attention, starting with:

    1. The Hiring Stage

    It’s a rigorous task to filter the right person or agency among the batch.  If you’re careful selecting now, the lesser percentage of attrition rate you get later.  Those who are well-matched are more likely to stay loyal.  What values do they share with yours?

    2.  The Onboarding Stage

    You want your virtual assistant to work now and become more productive so s/he can produce results quickly.  Would you suffer quality for quantity then?  If you can spare a week of properly introducing the person to your business so s/he can fully understand the brand, the lesser room for miscommunication and demotivation in the future.

    3.  The Training Stage

    While many independent contractors and consultants are equipped with the latest tools and tricks of the trade, providing upfront training about your brand will give new recruits to talk to you intelligently and contribute ideas to the group.  If you’re short on time and budget, why not use your top performers to introduce your organization, mission and vision?

    4.  The Work Stage

    Your team’s needs will always evolve and as their leader, you can inspire them to help you succeed by offering career advancement opportunities, other than monetary rewards.  Offer everyone the opportunity to tailor their job to your needs so they won’t simply leave and join your competition.  Give your people the right to make choices, the freedom and control to make decisions, and trust them when they do so.  Communicate clearly their roles and responsibilities.

    And simply have fun… as you watch your A-team fulfill the success of your dreams.  If you value them more than their job titles, you may just win their heart over.  Not everyone is created equal, but having an open mind to change may just send a domino effect leading to a positive change.

    Are you ready to lead by example this time?  Or, better yet.. ask your team what they want you to stop doing right now.

  5. Seven Habits of Highly Productive Entrepreneur

    "productive entrepreneur"The first week of the new year is up!  I’ve been contemplating on writing more blog posts this year and yet, I had the same sinking feeling when I think of achieving tons while staying relaxed.  On top of managing my business and various client portfolios.. I also consult, network, socialize, travel.. and try my best to achieve work-life balance this time around.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I do envy those who manage to juggle things without having to sweat a lot.  Perhaps, they do.  But, they appear just too happy to be bothered.  I’ve asked myself a couple of times if there’s really a quick fix to becoming really productive overnight?

    Seven Habits of Highly Productive Entrepreneurs Revealed

    The answer came close to home, when I’ve had the chance to reunite with a long-time friend and entrepreneur ( just like myself ).  It started with a trivial discussion on multitasking and whether such a thing really exists.  You see, the brain can only handle enough information and you’re not really doing all things at once – but many things at a faster rate than before.. unless you have four pair of hands, two sets of brains.  This is his argument and if you come to think of it, it’s no farther from the truth, that trying to do so much with twice the speed lets you lose focus and you end up with more unfinished tasks than ever.  So, is productivity a myth then?  Not really.  It all starts with following these seven paths that highly productive entrepreneurs follow:

    1.  Be Clear About Your Priorities

    Knowing what you want most will help you list a set of priorities to accomplish, starting from the most important to the least.  You only need to have five goals to start with and see how it grows.

    2.  Learn When To Say No

    Accepting that you can’t do everything, that you don’t know everything is the first step.  Don’t take too much that you can’t handle and never compromise your personal happiness as well.

    3.  Enjoy

    If you don’t start your day with activities you enjoy, you may just end up procrastinating about finishing anything.  Be grounded.  Be passionate about work.  You will achieve more things if you love what you’re doing.  And this means having more time to enjoy those precious moments in life.

    4.  Work Mindfully

    Whether you’re returning a call or listening to your client, you have to be completely focused in what you do.  Being present is pretty relaxing.  Less stress means more accomplishment.. and lesser attention to distractions or time wasters.

    5.  Discover New Things

    Or, new and efficient way of doing old things.  There are plenty of online tools that can help save you time.  You can even outsource tasks to virtual assistants so you can focus on the core competencies of your business.

    6.  Add Value

    Whenever you think of doing something, always ask yourself if it is really necessary.  When you value your time, you also value your worth.. and others will value the idea that you have something unique to offer them.

    7.  Be Positively Persistent

    If at the end of the day you haven’t achieved everything you planned, don’t beat yourself up.  Mistakes do happen.  But your positive attitude in wanting to do better tomorrow may just put you back on the right track.

    Above all, gratitude is the best attitude any entrepreneur can ever have.  It’s all about being grateful for a day of having worked smarter that will save you from working harder the next.  ( and that makes it the 8th habit to have this year ).  Sorry, there are just no shortcuts to these habits this time.

    Would you rather join me in a 30-minute power nap to increase your productivity towards the end of the day then?   Let’s sleep on it!

  6. 2013: New Year, New Ideas, New Habits

    "new year 2013"For many years, you’ve always come up with a long list of resolutions for the New Year.. only to be disappointed that you don’t have the willpower to commit to these.  It’s high time to change things and ditch what doesn’t stick – starting with this bad habit.  It’s not a surprise really why you can’t seem to eat healthier, exercise more, live a balanced life and so on.  Perhaps, your heart is really not up to the task.  Then, there’s the stream of bad behavior programmed deep into your psyche that making the slightest change can be utterly exhausting.  How can you make things better this time?

    There Are Just NO Shortcuts!

    If you want to start on a clean slate this year, you have to understand how your mind works.  There will always be that emotional trigger that makes you think and act the way that you do right now.  Sometimes, you don’t have to stop doing something completely; you just need to find a better alternative.  That goes with managing your business and people as well.  It’s all about reconstructing what’s not working and amplifying what works, especially when financial times are bleak.  It’s not about getting on every social media network,  hoping that your brand message will go viral in time.. BUT, it’s all about knowing the right market so you can send the right message using the right media. You have to develop the vision for the business of your dreams and renew your purpose, your passion.. Right NOW!

    Creating New Ideas that Drive Innovation

    The world around you is filled with ideas and you only have to take one to get you inspired on thinking of something new.  The key here is to start with you, your experience and your current challenges.  Can you see opportunities to help your customers?  How about a new business venture?  Can you turn your product into something better?  Nobody wants problems, but having them is like a blessing that can drive new business ideas which thrive in diverse, often unknown places.  Maybe, you’re not opening your eyes wide enough.  In any situation, the only way out of the cave of fear is by conquering that dreaded path.  Learn where you fail, where others failed.. and reuse ideas that work, or more likely, turn it into something great.

    2013: A Time for Real Change

    That’s why people call it a ‘hard habit to break’ and the only way to move forward is to challenge your old habits so you can gradually immerse better habits.  There’s simply no point in trying harder to commit to a failed cause.  Nobody gets it perfect all the time, no matter how lucky you think those successful entrepreneurs are.  This time, it’s totally fine to say, ‘Yes, I have failed..’ so you can start asking yourself, ‘How Can I Do Things Better?’  You blew it.  You don’t have to feel bad about it though.  You can always do better tomorrow than you did today.

    If there’s anything to learn this time, it’s this:  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  You can always start on a clean slate.  Just seize the day, live inspired each day.. and everything will be all right.

    May Your Year Be Prosperous and Bright.  Happy 2013 to All!  – Shaleen Shah, Founder, Seventhman.com

  7. 2013 Business Insights: Adding the Extra to Ordinary

    "2013 business trends"What if 2013 marks the year where no rules apply to doing business?  I wonder how it will look like, especially when people can’t stop talking about going over the fiscal cliff.  No matter what bracket you belong to, one thing’s for sure: Taxes are on the rise.  Perhaps, it isn’t time to quit things yet.  How about going with the flow of this change and starting a new business all over?  Bottom line is, that it’s the only realistic option there is where many are already pinching pennies.  No matter how you look at it, your business is an investment and a risk; something has to give.

    Hitting the Brakes on Trends

    I have been following lots of articles and news talking about business and technology trends this 2013.  The thing is, there’s no way of knowing if that new shiny object is the real thing you need.  I guess, at one point, you’re all too tired of the endless gimmicks brands place, here and there, that you wonder whatever happened to good ol’ customer service experience.  Let’s take for example those QR codes you see on packaging, on stores and so on.  Does everyone even know how to use them?  Maybe not.  Making things complicated won’t work, no matter how trending it may be.  This may also hold true for the many buzzwords we hear like big data when you just don’t know what to do with all that noise.. and gamification that dies as soon as the spark ignited.  You may want to invest for the long run this time.

    Real Change Starts With You

    What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, but what if you are the very knife that makes your business bleed?  As the year is coming to an end and we’re about to face the new year, it’s time for honest conversations, careful analysis and introspections.  Your leadership may be put on hot waters.  Scary?  Yes.  The thought of undergoing change? Scarier.  Only the brave dare go beyond the walls of their false egos and conquer the unknown.  This is why we only have a very few percentage of successful people in their niche.  You must learn to separate fact from intuition and ask yourself if you’re really looking at real problems.  Your faith will determine your fate… and real solutions will come to surface.

    The Culture of Thriving

    I have always said it, time and again, that your people are the greatest asset your business can ever have.  Your competitors can always hire the best talents out there, but without a strong culture, it’s simply a waste.  You are in the business of listening to your team and your customers.  For this reason, it is crucial to hire those who feel connected with your values and goals.  You can train anyone new skills, but only attitude makes for a winning team.  Sadly, many are left in the old way of doing business that they find it hard to adapt in a changing market.  There is a fine line between managing and leading .  In the end, your company culture will be your greatest competitive advantage – if you manage things right and lead the right things.

    This 2013.. Are you willing to take the risk and reinvent the wheel?