Looking to change roles at your company? 14 tips from leaders

It’s not unusual to see professionals focused on growing within their company through vertical movement. After all, “climbing the ladder” to leadership and a C-suite position is often seen as the ultimate goal in a person’s career. However, you can often find a new passion and learn new skills by moving into a different department or taking on a new role at the same level.

The Business Journals

We asked 14 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust for the best ways a professional can start making a “horizontal” move. Follow their advice to steer your career in the direction you want to go.

1. Look for opportunities where you’re most needed.
Change your mindset. We tend to be driven to roles where we think we’re needed. These roles usually align with the things we want to do and where we are effective in delivering results. Flipping this mindset is important when moving horizontally. Rather than supporting where we think we’re needed, we should support where we’re actually needed. This will naturally create a new passion. – Jarod Latch, Spiracle Media

2. Be engaged in your organization.
Start by being an engaged employee. Join an internal committee, participate in philanthropy events and attend company functions. The more noticeable you are, the better. Talk to people outside of your core group. I highly suggest asking someone to grab a coffee or talk with you for a quick 30 minutes about their role. Pick their brain about all the components that make up their role. – Kimberly Davids, The Weitz Company, LLC

3. Understand why you want a change.
First, identify why you’re considering a change and assess if the potential new job and environment will help you achieve the change you desire. Develop realistic expectations and thoroughly research the job expectations, skills and experience required. When you receive a lateral offer, consider if the new position will help you move forward to achieve your long-term career goals. – Phil Willingham, Robert Half

4. Take a test-and-learn approach.
It’s important to remain agile as an employee continues their professional journey. We often use a test-and-learn approach. If an employee has a passion project, hobby or skill they’re interested in, we encourage employees to be honest and transparent with leadership so we can actively search out new opportunities to develop the skills and allow for horizontal movement. – William Balderaz, Futurety

5. Let your manager know.
Speak up! You don’t have to wait for an annual review. Find time to meet with your manager to talk about your career path, the professional skills you want to build and how those skills could be used by the organization. Great managers are impressed by vision and initiative. If you get a negative response, you know it’s time to start looking for a new place in which to attain your potential. – Daniel Serfaty, Aptima, Inc.

6. Volunteer with other departments.
When considering a horizontal move, volunteer with other departments to gain a feel for those areas. By giving your time, talent and abilities in a new department or role, you not only gain insight about potential fits, but you are also seen as a team player willing to help out other departments outside of your own. This exposure can help you identify and clarify potential opportunities. – Adam Boudreaux, The Leadership Group LLC

7. Seek out extra projects.
If you have employees who want to grow, give them options besides vertical growth. We have had new ongoing projects come up, and some of our employees have asked to take on the new challenges. We have rewarded employees with raises and extra responsibilities. – Douglas Carter, Ironside Human Resources

8. Communicate your reasoning to leadership and any subordinates.
A lateral move is worth doing when your interests have changed or you find you’re better at something else. Whatever the reason may be, communicate clearly with your leadership and your subordinates. Don’t box yourself in — you can always go back to the role you were in before if it doesn’t work out. – Samir Mokashi, Code Unlimited LLC

9. Network with other departments.
Network and get to know team members in other departments. Not only will this help you build a relationship with individuals you may not otherwise have met, but it also allows you to ask to job shadow. Shadowing a team member in another department allows you to observe someone’s day-to-day and better understand their role and if it is something that interests you. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group

10. Continually assess the strengths needed in your chosen role.
It’s very important to continually assess the strengths of any high-performing team member in an area you wish to make a “horizontal” move into. Stay curious and regularly ask them what their goals are, as people are constantly evolving. Managers should listen to those employees who may express a wish to move into a different role so they can be there to support them in making a change. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

11. Pursue continuing education opportunities.
I work in an organization that is flat and doesn’t offer vertical job opportunities. We offer a lot of continuing education for employees to further their skills. We are also open to ideas that employees might have. I encourage employees to look elsewhere for opportunities if they feel inclined to do so. If you are concerned about a person’s future, then you will do this to support them. – Mark Becker, Florida United Methodist Foundation

12. Identify your strengths.
Identifying your strengths is key for both vertical and horizontal movement. Often, a key employee will join our team and will discover their strength is in a modified position. Allowing the strengths of each professional to shine ultimately leads to a strong and productive organization. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

13. Learn everything you can about the role.
If someone is interested in making a horizontal career move, I assume they already have some particular job role on their mind. I’d say learn more about it before you transfer. You might take an online course or ask your boss to get you involved part-time in a project to the extent that you can bring value. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

14. Map out your long-term plan.
First, see what is available. Second, remember that it’s about values, both personal and professional. Do your values align with the department and where you may want to go professionally? Map out your long-term plan. Where do you see yourself in 12 months, 36 months and 10 years? This will help you align your focus and facilitate a possible position shift. – David Wescott, Transblue

Making your first big client pitch? 15 important tips to keep in mind

Pitching to a potential big client for the first time is an exciting milestone for any entrepreneur or business leader, but it can be intimidating. It’s natural to be nervous — there’s probably a lot riding on the sale. Fortunately, there are many ways you can refine your pitch and cater it to the client to improve your chances of closing the deal.

The Business Journals

We asked the experts of Business Journals Leadership Trust what entrepreneurs and sales reps should keep in mind when preparing their first pitch for a large prospective client. Follow their tips to better prepare for your meeting.

1. Understand what the client wants.
Be sure you understand what the client wants and focus your effort on clearly stating how you will fill this need. Do not be afraid to ask clarifying questions. When preparing for the pitch, be sure to research your competition. How will they appear to this client, and how will you compare to them? Highlight your best competitive features and do not say negative things about your competition. – Joy Frestedt, Frestedt Incorporated

2. Know what you don’t want to say.
Prepare not only what you want to say, but also what you don’t want to say. Anticipate difficult questions that might expose gaps in your abilities or experience. Big clients not only want to know if you can deliver everything but also whether you can recover well if something goes wrong. – Samir Mokashi, Code Unlimited LLC

3. Remember your value.
When first presenting your pitch to a big client, just remember that you have value. It’s not whether your product or service is good or bad — it’s whether you’re a good fit for this particular client. If they don’t want you, good for you. Discover that as soon as possible and move on. Hearing “no” only means that you get more time to focus on the people who need you. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

4. Prepare for the client’s unique issues.
Put the potential client at ease by preparing for their unique issues. My potential clients want to know that I have the experience to understand their issues and to help. I prepare ahead of time by pulling together potential issues that they may run up against and thoughts on how to handle those issues. – Priya Cloutier, Cloutier Arnold Jacobowitz PLLC

5. Prepare answers to anticipated questions.
The best cure for nervousness is preparation. When you want to land that first big client, put plenty of time into rehearsing your presentation and preparing answers to anticipated questions — including “gotcha” questions that could catch you flat-footed. The best compliment a big client ever gave me was that I was “unstumpable” in the presentation process. Strive for that. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

6. Focus on building a relationship first.
Do your research. Figure out who you are meeting with and what interests they have, and find something you have in common to make a connection. Always spend the first 10 minutes of every pitch building a relationship, not trying to close the deal. Instead of worrying about what you should say during the pitch, think about what you should learn about the prospect to make that crucial connection. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group

7. Have an outward mindset.
Make sure you are prepping your pitch with an outward mindset. Many times we prep our pitches thinking about what we do, why we are unique, etc., but the client wants to know how you are going to apply your unique and expert capabilities to help them solve a problem. The pitch has to be more about the potential client and less about you. – Merrill Stewart, Marketing & Business Solutions LLC

8. Be authentic.
I became an entrepreneur during the 2008 economic downturn. In our eagerness to build our business, we often tried to sell ourselves as what our competition offered. The truth was that we would never outdo them — but nobody could outdo what we had to offer either. Once we corrected this approach, we started finding clients who actually wanted what we had to offer. – Brent Foley, TRIAD Architects

9. Don’t forget about the emotional elements.
People buy from people. Don’t forget it. People get so caught up in PowerPoint and the script of the presentation that they fail to prepare for the emotional elements of the pitch. Take time to find out more about the big client’s culture and the personalities of the leadership that you’ll hopefully be representing. – Keith Woods, KB Woods Public Relations

10. Aim to alleviate the client’s concerns.
In engineering, the one thing I try to remember is that my job as a professional is to alleviate and remove any concerns about the project the client is soon to embark upon. Capital investment carries a certain amount of risk. My job is to alleviate that concern. – Dustin Hopson, Synergeer Engineering

11. Practice with your team.
Practicing with your team before a big pitch is key to ensuring you are all aligned and have the opportunity to brainstorm any tough questions that might arise during the pitch. Practicing the pitch allows the team to identify potential areas of weakness to ensure they can appropriately tailor the messaging and ultimately secure new business. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

12. Describe the client’s problem as you understand it.
Do everything possible to describe the problem as you understand it and in the way it exists in the client’s environment. Then demonstrate quickly how your solution solves their problem better than anything under the sun. Make it about the client early and often, and include the right amount of your features and benefits — but not too much. Lastly, be ready to ask for the business. – Russell Harrell, SFB IDEAS – a Strategic Marketing firm

13. Focus your message on the client.
Make sure the message and the presentation are focused on the specific client. Alter your messaging to meet the client’s problems and needs. Also, make the presentation all about the client. They don’t care about your accomplishments; they care about what you can do for them. – Zee Ali, Z-Swag

14. Practice reading aloud before the meeting.
Everyone gets nervous at these meetings. Make sure that you know what you are presenting inside and out. This will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety. Read some poetry beforehand to get a good cadence to your voice. Find out what works for you to put your game face on! – Kristen Briggs, General Mailing & Shipping Systems, Inc.

15. Make sure they’re actually your ideal client.
Business owners are often so eager to get a new client they can easily oversell their service in an attempt to get new business. Understand what an ideal customer and business fit looks like; otherwise, you can end up with a client who is a big headache in the long run. – Cody McLain, SupportNinja

16 business leaders on overcoming their ‘scariest’ leadership challenge

Every career comes with highs and lows, but when one is in a leadership position, the lows can seem especially daunting. After all, you have a team of people depending on you and turning to you for guidance; it can be hard to admit you’re going through a rough patch — and that you’re scared.

Business Journals

Part of running a business is overcoming such obstacles to grow your company and improve your leadership skills. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in these struggles. Below, 16 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share the “scariest” business situation they’ve ever faced and how they successfully navigated it.

1. The 2008 recession
Not long after I purchased LAN Systems in 2008, the Great Recession hit. Later in the year, the stock market plummeted and we experienced the worst recession of my lifetime. My goals for modernizing the company were greatly delayed. How did LAN weather the storm? In a word, tenacity. I knew the plan was sound, and I worked it each day with changes that reflected the tough times. – Mary Hester, LAN Systems

2. The 2013 federal government shutdown
In 2013, the federal government shut down. Many IT consultants were trying to preserve income from traditional sources, too. But we knew if we were going to survive, we’d have to be cloud-forward. So, we shifted to Office 365 early while others stayed focused on Enterprise SharePoint. The result: We’re ahead of other firms in our industry and are offering better support models and prices. – Thomas Carpe, Liquid Mercury Solutions

3. Losing my corporate job
The 2008 downturn produced job cuts and my first experience with job loss. I turned fear into opportunity by identifying areas where I could provide critical services at a fraction of my salary while also using my skills to help other businesses. I presented my employer with a solution to help us both, which became the cornerstone of launching my business. – Robert Wolf, CREIS, LLC

4. Deciding whether to file for bankruptcy
There was a point where filing for bankruptcy was an option on the table. Weathering the storm is an experience that hones a leader, but to navigate it successfully, you must be willing to make the difficult decisions and always keep a positive mindset. But the most important thing of all is to never stop hustling. You have the power to change your position and successfully overcome your situation. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting

5. Losing our biggest client
We lost our largest client. We had to cut salaries and execute layoffs for the first time in my company’s history. We rebounded by networking and redoubling our efforts in new business while working hard to keep our current clients happy. It took hard work — the usual answer to many of the challenges that life can throw at you! – Carter Keith, 31,000 FT.

6. Launching a software company with no funding
Years back I risked everything and started to build software, as opposed to running a service company. I had no large seed funds, no friends and family help, and definitely no investors — just me. Despite everything, I came out strong and never looked back. It has allowed us to scale internationally and compete against giant companies. A leap of faith is all it takes. You never know if you might just make it. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

7. My business partner backing out
My entrepreneurial journey started off very rough, with my business partner backing out less than a week into our new venture. The original strategy had to be thrown out and a new plan had to be formulated — very quickly. When you are facing challenges and can’t see your way forward, take a break, ask for directions and plot a new course. Your tenacity and persistence will pay off. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

8. Periods of uncertain sales and revenue
All businesses are based on continuous sales and revenue, but these numbers continuously fluctuate. This uncertainty is a constant challenge any business faces. Adjusting operations according to various levels of business ensures you are nimble and prepared for anything that comes your way without waiting until it’s too late to take action. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. Growing the team for a client that later liquidated
We expanded our team for a new major client. We didn’t realize they were so emphatic about headcount because they were on their way to liquidation 18 months later. We found ourselves outsized for our income. However, our pipeline is very long, so we were reluctant to abruptly right-size. We cut costs, kept everyone we’d hired but didn’t replace folks who left, and grew sales enough pre-Covid-19 to expand our team again. – Billy Hodges, Digital Filaments

10. Relocating right after starting out
Honestly, the scariest thing is starting out. I started right when the market tanked and I thought it might be the end, but I made the crucial decision to move my operation to Kansas City. Looking back now, it was the perfect decision. Kansas City is a big construction city, and that was right in our wheelhouse. Make sure that you adapt to the market — don’t stagnate. – Brandy McCombs, IBC

11. Losing face-time with customers due to an accident
I had a skiing accident and was out of the office for four months. I was not able to be in front of customers, which affected sales as well as some of the contracts we already had. We were very dependent on one customer, which we lost. We got better at working remotely and made sure no customer comprised more than 15% of the business. We kept going, but we no longer depend on just one customer or one person. – Sergio Retamal, Global4PL

12. Not being able to make payroll
When you have people relying on your dream for their livelihood, it requires you to improve your billing procedures, engage clients who aren’t paying on time and reexamine your contracting and billing processes. Most of the time these strategies have worked, but I’ve also had to dip into personal finances when in a pinch to make sure our team is taken care of first. – Liz Wooten-Reschke, Connect For More

13. Eliminating a business partner
The scariest situation I ever faced was eliminating part of a partnership. We were faced with a bad economy and a partner that was not aligned. Several of us discussed it, and a decision was made. To this day, I regret not discussing it openly with everyone involved. I’ve repaired the affected friendships and we all came to agreeable terms, but I still kick myself for the way I handled it. – Brent Foley, TRIAD Architects

14. Facing a temporary shutdown
In April of this year, we were forced to pause our operations due to the coronavirus. This was devastating for our employees, most of whom are hourly workers. We chose to put our people first and continued to pay them a portion of their usual average pay. By caring for those who care for our business, we helped them through a scary time and got back up and running faster the following month. – Aric Burke, Atlas Healthcare Partners

15. The shrinking Covid-19 economy
In February 2020, my company was poised to double in size over the course of the year. When Covid-19 struck, my company was faced with the big threat of the economy shrinking and our clients losing business. We handled the situation well mostly because we had prepared for a 2020 recession 12 months prior. We made sure we had cash available, operated very lean and focused on helping our existing clients navigate the pandemic. – Sanjay Jupudi, Qentelli

16. Taking that first step
My scariest situation was simply getting started and taking that first step in creating positive momentum. When you start a new business in the highly competitive health care field, you need to establish contacts and obtain business quickly, because you have responsibilities that go beyond yourself. That can be paralyzing, but persistence and a positive attitude are the keys to success. – Phil Gibson, CatylystOne

15 overlooked subjects and skills schools should teach before students enter the workforce

Educational institutions play a crucial role in helping students of all ages prepare for the world of work. In addition to the grounding they receive early on in both hard and soft skills, many choose to pursue higher education to help prepare them for a career in their chosen field of study. However, the world of work changes constantly and rapidly, and the curricula offered by educational institutions don’t always cover evolving trends.

The Business Journals

So what kind of knowledge should educational institutions offer to better prepare graduates for the new working world? We asked the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust about some often-overlooked subjects or skills that would help students as they enter the modern workforce. Here are the skills they believe students should hone while they’re still in school.

1. STEM subjects
The critical skills necessary for even basic 21st-century jobs and lifelong security involve some level of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) literacy. The pivotal, life-altering decision to advance those skills must be made in middle school; if you’ve waited until high school to engage student interest, you’ve waited too long. Schools should incorporate STEM activities in elementary school. – Paula Grisanti, National Stem Cell Foundation

2. Critical thinking
Today, information is at our fingertips. By using an intentional approach to critically think about things we see and hear, we are less susceptible to misinformation, stagnant personal growth and manipulation. More critical thinking leads to a more “common-sense,” thoughtful approach to solving problems. – Kenneth Croston, Electronic Locksmith, Inc.

3. Time management
Today’s students would be better prepared to enter the workforce if there was a class taught on time management. Being disciplined with your time is an important skill, as is developing ways to focus on those tasks that are high in priority in favor of those tasks that are lower in priority. – Anita Kiehl-Quarles, A. Quarles CPA, PLLC

4. Problem-solving
I believe educational institutions need to do a better job of teaching core problem-solving skills. My children come home with a lot of assignments that require rote memorization. In the business world, there are many problems and situations to solve that don’t have obvious solutions. The more practice students can get solving different problems, the better prepared they will be for the workforce. – Matt Rosen, Allata

5. Marketing
A hard skill all students should learn is marketing. No matter the industry, clients must be acquired, and who better to recruit new clients than your own family of employees? From a soft skill perspective, students must learn how to problem-solve. The employees who stand out the most to me are the ones who say, “We have this problem, but here is a solution I have come up with to fix it.” – Shannon Laine, HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum St. Louis

6. Business basics
I have a student in college now and an often-overlooked approach is real business scenarios that students can work through to show their creativity. There are wasted resources in areas and classes that will not impact a future employee or potential owner of a business. Fostering a true understanding of the core basics of business and not just the theories is often missed. – Phil Gibson, CatylystOne

7. Teamwork and collaboration
Work is all about collaboration with people, both in person and virtually. It’s important for educational institutions to foster teamwork and communication and to teach students how to set mutually agreed-upon team goals at the beginning of a project. An individualized approach to work will not take an employee far unless they are trained to be a team player first and then, eventually, a team leader. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

8. Written communication
Students should master communication skills, particularly in written form. The ability to convey information persuasively is an essential component of any business relationship. Whether you’re writing an introductory business letter, an informational email or intriguing website copy, the ability to employ proper grammar, syntax and punctuation is critical in creating effective written communication. – Robert Antes, TradeTrans Corp.

9. Public speaking
The Speech 101 class that I took in college had a big impact on me — in business, on stage, in church and in the boardroom. The challenge today is that many people have grown accustomed to virtual communication via texting or social posting. Gone are the experiences of a phone conversation or getting up in front of others and sharing thoughts. Get a leg up on your peers and take Speech 101. – Keith Woods, KB Woods Public Relations

10. Psychology
A basic psychology course — including current best thinking on personality typing and understanding the different preferences and skill sets of colleagues and teams — would help, as would a course on the history of how politics influences business. As global history repeats itself both politically and in our public health crisis, it’s important to learn from and not repeat mistakes of the past. – Cheryl Williams, Hudgins Williams Associates

11. Sales
Sales is something that needs a lot more focus in school. It has been 20 years since I was in business school, but we didn’t have a single class on sales. This has always struck me as odd. Sales is the lifeblood of any company, no matter the business. Even if somebody doesn’t directly work in sales, the skills learned from it will come in very handy when it comes to career advancement. – Ben Buzbee, Today’s RDH

12. Empathy
Empathy, often considered a soft skill, is key to success in the workforce. With different demographics all competing for similar positions, understanding where someone else is coming from can be a game-changer. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

13. Coding
As the world evolves into a hybrid of technology blended with everything else, people who understand the basics of technology will find themselves at the top of the workforce. Coding will be as essential in the next 20 years as basic word processing programs became over the last 20 years. – Brock Berry, AdCellerant

14. Finance
Finance — both business and personal — should be taught to every student. Understanding how money is made by organizations and what you need to do to manage your personal finances are skills that will help you succeed in any career. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

15. Real-world experience
Real-life training and application of education is the missing link in many educational environments. As important as it is to hone your skills in time management, working with others, setting goals, achieving your benchmarks, etc., it is equally important to have real-world experience in your area of study so you know what lies ahead and you can be better prepared. – Merrill Stewart, Marketing & Business Solutions LLC

14 strategies to help you and your team combat burnout

Burnout can impact any professional if they don’t proactively work to address it. For most, vacations and time with family and friends are the go-to remedies, but with the current pandemic making such activities risky, many are feeling mental, physical and emotional exhaustion that far exceeds the usual workaday weariness.

The Business Journals

So how do you stay focused and inspired in today’s climate? We asked the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust how they are avoiding burnout and supporting their team members during this period of prolonged stress.

1. Shut down the office early on Fridays.
As long as we are on track, we shut the office down early on Fridays. We are also trying to take employees out for special lunches, and we encourage employees to find something engaging to get involved in outside work, such as running, biking, golf, etc. – Douglas Carter, Ironside Human Resources

2. Draw hard lines between work and life at home.
Work and life are co-existing in our homes unlike ever before. It’s always a challenge to disconnect, but it is imperative to draw some real lines of separation. In pre-pandemic times, I would turn off my technology twice each year for vacation. In April, I started turning off my technology every other weekend. – Lisa Levy, Lcubed Consulting Inc.

3. Follow your natural biorhythms.
To combat burnout, I’ve been exercising and sleeping more, eating better, and taking more time for personal breaks during the workday. Conversely, I also follow my natural biorhythms and work later, earlier or on weekends when the mood strikes, since I get plenty of quality time with the family thanks to Covid-19. As a result, I’m more productive and inspired than before the pandemic. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.

4. Work from different places if possible.
I am someone who just cannot sit behind a desk all day — I have to be up and moving around. I work from varied places to feel better in these difficult times. We have offices in two different types of locations, and I make sure that I spend time in each of them accordingly. If I work from home, I make sure that I am not just sitting all day. A change in scenery is good for people. – Brandy McCombs, IBC

5. Prioritize self-care.
Self-care is the only way to avoid burnout right now. That means taking breaks from work, decompressing, finding ways to relax and rejuvenate on a personal level and giving yourself a break from time to time. We are all in incredibly stressful situations, whether we are working too many hours or trying to juggle everything at home. Without doing what you need to do to unwind, you will burn out. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

6. Set personal goals outside of work.
I’ve made it a point to set both small and large goals to give me a reason to put work down and pick something else up. This has ranged from setting aside time each day to read to working on larger personal projects. Having these goals provides both something to look forward to after (or before) work and the mental break to recharge. – David Kennedy, Corona Insights

7. Take a personal time out.
It is important to schedule time for me, especially when juggling clients, work, kids’ schedules and virtual school. I schedule 15-minute breaks, take a walk outside and regroup. Make sure you schedule these time outs—if it’s not on my calendar it doesn’t happen. – Merrill Stewart, Marketing & Business Solutions LLC

8. Use your paid time off.
Employees are struggling to find a release away from their professional environments in 2020. One strategy we have followed is to encourage our employees to utilize the paid time off they’ve accrued throughout the year. We do this by setting an example at the top. When our front-line employees see leadership taking time off from work, we send a clear message that PTO should be used, not forfeited. – Mark Zinman, Zinman & Company

9. Focus on critical items and delegate the rest.
It is natural for ambitious go-getters to try to do too much. Helping those individuals focus on critical items and delegate or defer the rest can prevent burnout. Creating a culture where peers recognize potential burnout situations and step in is especially important. – Samir Mokashi, Code Unlimited LLC

10. Remove any tasks that don’t bring results.
Exhaustion is a choice. Business owners often get so inundated by the work that they fail to stop and evaluate whether it actually brings any results. It’s even worse today because we’re getting bombarded by negative information more often than ever. My strategy is reevaluating the work that I’m doing and removing anything that doesn’t bring any result. And it’s always “rinse and repeat.” – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

11. Establish a daily routine.
Having a daily routine is very useful. As part of that routine, taking time for meditation, exercise and reading good books helps greatly. Turning off the news, taking time to be outside and staying connected via phone calls and FaceTime with friends and family during this time also helps a lot. Unplugging from work and taking one day a week off from technology is useful as well. – Jonathan Keyser, Keyser

12. Check in with your team regularly.
Weekly one-on-one meetings held at the same time and place are crucial to helping team members avoid burnout. Weekly meetings result in team success because they help to build a better relationship between the manager and the team member. It gives an outlet to share ideas and concerns while allowing you to be aware of their well-being, and it provides a forum to discuss obstacles, set priorities and address burnout before it occurs. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group

13. Try something new.
When you feel yourself getting stale, it’s time to mix things up. Take some time for personal reflection, and ask yourself, “What have I always wanted to do but haven’t?” Perhaps it’s playing the guitar, reading more or learning a new trade. As for myself, during the Covid-19 lockdown, I went to Cornell University online for a digital marketing certificate. – Keith Woods, KB Woods Public Relations

14. Focus on the positive.
To avoid burnout, it’s important to prioritize your health, happiness and well-being. Do what truly makes you happy, and don’t let negative messages overtake you or cause you to live in fear. Take time to be in nature, turn off the news and social media, and truly focus on the positive aspects of life. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

Bring your sales team the best leads with these 12 pipeline strategies

With good marketing strategies, you can attract plenty of leads to your business. However, it doesn’t matter how many you have if those leads are low-quality.

The Business Journals

A good sales development pipeline will ensure your sales team is only receiving the best leads. That’s why we asked a panel of Business Journals Leadership Trust members to share the most important aspects of a good sales development pipeline.

1. Relationship insights
Tools like LinkedIn and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are great for identifying relationships that could be “warmer” than a cold call. Further, it’s likely that useful relationship insights exist within your own client data. They may be accessible by leveraging artificial intelligence/machine learning tools that can deliver relationship information and even suggest the best next action based on data analysis. – Nichole Jordan, Grant Thornton LLP

2. The BANT method
The BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) method of lead generation is a good route to follow as long as you are not too rigid with it. You don’t want to interrogate potential customers — instead, use BANT to understand budget pressures, the decision-making hierarchy, the problem(s) they are trying to solve and if an event has escalated the need to act sooner rather than later. – AJ Brown, LeadsRx, Inc.

3. Lead source channels
Know your specific numbers. Track the source of all of your leads that turn into sales. Put more focus on where the good leads come from. Either avoid the sources of poor-quality leads or see how you can change the experience with the bad lead sources to improve the quality of leads. – Brian McCarthy, Birmingham Orthodontics

4. Qualification data
We use a qualifying client intake form and interview process. This way we can gauge the seriousness of the potential engagement and the budget they’ve allotted (or not) and identify any potential leadership culture elements that may impact our work with them. – Liz Wooten-Reschke, Connect For More

5. Messaging for each level of the sales funnel
As a marketer, I try to create advertising and messaging that speaks to each level of the sales funnel. Video case studies and client testimonials are amazing tools that can attract new leads at each of those stages. The sales team is trained on how to use those studies and testimonials to overcome misconceptions and provide proof of concept. Doing that increases the sales-close ratio. – Keith Woods, KB Woods Public Relations

6. Early fact-finding and validation
Early fact-finding and validation are critical. Too often you spend time working with a new prospect only to find they are not a good fit. Being transparent early on and getting past some of the common deal-breakers for your industry will save you from unwisely investing your time. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

7. A realistic closing percentage
Determine a realistic closing percentage for any leads, along with the associated quantifiable revenue, to help you prioritize leads and assess the activity needed to generate the amount of new business you need to close. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

8. A defined ideal client
Targeting ideal clients in marketing is the hallmark of receiving the best leads. Any pipeline begins with defining who is being targeted, and it is essential to start with quality at the top. The sales will flow naturally and organically when the defined, specific work is nailed down with solving specific problems for specific clients. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

9. A way to disqualify leads
Disqualifying leads rather than qualifying them is an eye-opening insight we learned from our friends at Sandler. When working to get new clients on board, your job is not to persuade someone that you’re good — that you’re good is a given. Your job is to determine if you can help that particular prospect. It’s a mental shift all business owners need to make these days. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

10. A scoring system
Scoring leads based on predetermined actions ensures you are doing three things well. First, scoring ensures sales spends time on solid leads based on predetermined criteria. Second, you can see who still needs nurturing, so marketing can take appropriate action. And third, scoring stops you from wasting time on people who are a poor fit, either by demographic or behavioral measures. – Linda Bishop, Thought Transformation

11. The right technology
In today’s market, the sales department needs to have technology working for them. Technology can automate lead development, initial contact, follow-up, lead scoring and ongoing drip marketing. By leveraging technology the sales department can spend time selling versus spending time on non-sales-related activities. Executed correctly, technology will increase leads, opportunities and sales. – Brock Berry, AdCellerant

12. A method for engaging existing clients
Engage your existing, long-term clients. First, they may have more work for you. Second, they may have people in their network who would value you the same way they do. – Brent Foley, TRIAD Architects

13 ways AI can boost your customer acquisition efforts

Artificial has many applications that can streamline business processes — one such application is using machine learning for customer acquisition. Not only can AI automate aspects of the acquisition process, but it can also use customer data to help determine your audience’s needs and preferences. This not only frees up valuable time for you and your team, but it also reduces overhead costs and improves overall conversion rates.

The Business Journals

If you’re looking to use artificial intelligence to bring in new customers, consider these 13 effective strategies recommended by the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust.

1. Providing a better user experience
Today’s customers live in an isolated digital world, with no personal touch. To increase customer acquisition and retention, firms need to swiftly strengthen customer engagement in their apps and websites. This can be done using an AI-based conversational voice UX solution to help drive community building, click-through ads, live chats, advances in the sales funnel and other revenue-generating activities. – Pradeep Anand, Seeta Resources

2. Scoring leads
If you are using a CRM, one of the best places to start is setting up a scoring system for leads. Let the system’s “intelligence” keep count of actions indicating interest and send alerts when a lead turns into a “hot lead” who’s ready for a call from sales. – Linda Bishop, Thought Transformation

3. Analyzing data for trends
At this stage of its development, AI is simply machine learning, or the ability to spot trends in data. To be effective, a business needs a system for collecting that data in a searchable format. Use a CRM to record when, where, how and what customers are buying. Even rudimentary analysis will usually reveal trends you’ve never considered. – John Dini, MPN Inc.

4. Defining your target market
An effective way to leverage artificial intelligence to acquire customers is to use it to clearly and systematically define your target market. Once you have a methodical way to identify who and what comprises your target customers, then artificial intelligence can be maximized by collating information to identify appropriate new customers who need your services and want your business. – Jack Smith, Fortuna BMC

5. Finding ‘ready’ buyers
Traditional advertising bombards prospects with messages whether they are in a buying cycle or not. The logic was that if they eventually wanted to buy, they would remember the message. With newer tech, AI allows sellers to specifically target buyers who are in a buying cycle by using intent data captured as prospects search for keywords or educational material around the seller’s product. – Angela Nadeau, CompuData Inc.

6. Anticipating customer needs
Companies can use data to analyze and anticipate customer needs, resulting in greater lifetime value. We recommend you approach artificial intelligence in a manner that is intelligent rather than artificial. By applying the concepts of prediction to your data — digitizing, aggregating and analyzing — companies can gain non-obvious insights that can help grow their revenues. – Robert Elfanbaum, Object Computing, Inc.

7. Confirming buying habits
Scrub existing data to develop and confirm buying habits. This will help you identify potential buyers, design a product with features that will meet customer needs and appear customized, and determine competitive pricing and optimal timing. The scrubbed data will allow your organization to be significantly more cost-effective and time-efficient in developing profitable new business. – Carlos Munguia, Amegy Bank

8. Focusing cold outreach
Artificial intelligence changed our approach to cold outreach. Rather than employing a “shotgun” style and scattering messages around the industry, we use AI targeting to laser-focus on the right business-to-business prospects. What’s most exciting is the behavior profiles we can project about future clients who are (as yet) unknown to us. Data intelligence and automation make swift work of audience building. – Lori Daugherty, IMCS

9. Streamlining recruitment processes
In the staffing and recruiting industry, we often say we serve two sets of customers: the employer and the candidate. We regularly use AI to interact with candidates during the recruiting process. Through simple campaigns, our virtual recruiters screen candidates and assist in setting them up for in-person interviews. It reduces costs and streamlines what could be a lengthy process. – John Lewin, Stivers Staffing Services

10. Calculating customer lifetime value
First, build in data capture as a foundational element of your software — otherwise, you’ll miss key customer insights. Second, calculate the customer lifetime value of existing customers. Finally, integrate that data with your CRM using an AI solution to predict which existing customers you risk losing as well as which new customers not only have the highest probability of acquisition but also the highest CLV. – Matthew Johnston, Design Interactive Inc.

11. Testing marketing efforts
It’s important to use AI to streamline customer acquisition. Develop your baseline — proven acquisition metrics — through strategic marketing, set those fields and then use AI/machine learning to make gains on current tactics. Develop a “test” portion of your marketing to see what enhancements can be added to the current plan, and continue testing and learning to identify the most effective tactics. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

12. Implementing chatbots
As a business automation company, we have implemented a wide variety of AI and RPA solutions. The one technology that builds connections with prospects is a chatbot. Having an effective chatbot approach integrated with AI and RPA in the back end helps prospects engage in initial discussions and then establish human contact to close the deal. – Raj Ganesan, The Business Labs

13. Attracting ideal clients
Every company has an ideal client for customer acquisition. Targeting marketing efforts to attract ideal clients is a great way to maximize the use of AI. In both online and offline initiatives, AI is a fantastic tool for speaking to ideal clients with resonance. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

15 social media marketing myths you shouldn’t believe

With the abundance of available information about social media marketing, it can seem easy to research and master everything you need to know. However, the adage that you “shouldn’t believe everything you read” holds for social media: There are plenty of so-called facts and best practices out there that can set you back if you follow them.

The Business Journals Leadership Trust


Unless you’ve spent a lot of time studying and practicing social media marketing, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction as a business owner. That’s why we asked members of Business Journals Leadership Trust what false or misleading information businesses need to watch out for. Here are some persistent myths you shouldn’t believe about social media marketing.

1. Social media is all about advertising.
As an early adopter of social media, our general goal has been “brand awareness.” We use social media to share the information we find informative and helpful for businesses, such as making decisions about business growth, the economy, our community, etc. Viewers of our company’s channels/posts can quickly see what we do and what I care about. – DeLea Becker, Beck-Reit Commercial Real Estate & Asset Management

2. You should aim to get something from your followers.
One myth is that you are on social media to get something from your customer (a sale, their contact information, etc.). The truth is that social media is here for you to give to your customers. That’s it. Your job is to build a community of giving. Be so generous with your information and resources that your customers enjoy your content. Bombarding them with asks is a recipe for losing readers. – Betsy Hauser, Tech Talent South

3. People who ‘Like’ your post are ready to buy.
How often have you “Liked” a product on Facebook but had no intention — at least not immediately — of buying it? Social media can prove to be a powerful vector to engage your fans and followers as well as attract new audiences, but it’s important to understand that reach and engagement do not necessarily translate into instantaneous transactions. – Jeremy Segal, Proozy

4. Jump on the bandwagon if you spot a trend.
I believe a big myth is your message should follow the masses. It seems too many people today are jumping on the bandwagon with trends instead of crafting an authentic message that reflects their business and its core values. – Timothy Flanagan Jr., MassMutual Carolinas

5. Give up if you don’t see results right away.
Social media marketing is very powerful, but it has a long tail. Many times, organizations attack social media and then, when it doesn’t immediately convert customers, go silent. It’s as if you closed the door and locked it. You have to stay in front of the audience to build trust over a long period. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners

6. Posting more often means more engagement.
A common myth is that if I post more often it means more engagement. It’s about quality and consistency. The right message to the right audience goes much farther than frequency. And being consistent about connecting to your audience builds trust. – Merrill Stewart, Marketing & Business Solutions LLC

7. Platforms make it easy to start advertising.
Platforms will default to large audiences with low frequencies — they don’t want their users complaining about too much advertising. You will need to have a high frequency, which means a tightly defined audience. You will be fighting the platform as much as you are using it, and you will need to work for a good ROI. – Lara August, Robot Creative

8. Social media is free marketing.
It’s not free, and it requires commitment. Whether you’re spending actual dollars to promote posts or you’re dedicating staff time, effective social media campaigns will require a budget all their own. And since customers use it to interact, complain and share their experiences, you have to commit to monitoring and interacting. If you can’t commit the time and money, don’t expect real results. – Sam Davidson, Batch

9. It’s all about lead generation.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you social media marketing is about lead generation. It’s not. It’s about building trusting relationships with prospective buyers and other audiences. Ultimately those relationships can lead to sales, but if you don’t have the patience to do it right, you simply won’t be successful. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

10. If you build it, they will come.
One myth of social media marketing is that if you start a page, people will automatically flock to the page and the business. Businesses need to put energy into developing followers, creating content that their followers want to see and continuing to engage people on social media in a way that makes them want to continue to be part of the community. – Tashina Bailey, The Bar Method Portland

11. Social media isn’t necessary for a B2B business.
Whether you are B2C or B2B, the key is determining what social media platform to be on and investing in a regular presence that will engage users. Most B2C companies are on social media, but even B2B companies can use social media as a platform for thought leadership and connecting with like-minded professionals. – Aviva Ajmera, SoLVE KC

12. Any intern can handle it.
“It’s just social media”; “Any intern can handle it”; “A big following is a good following”; “All social channels are equal.” All of these statements are false. An effective social media marketing campaign starts with a strategy of building awareness and engagement among and with the target audience. That will dictate how to use each channel. Don’t spend time building followings where your audience isn’t. – Lee Caraher, Double Forte

13. Do what everyone else is doing.
The biggest myth is you’ve got to do exactly what someone else is doing. Too many businesses try to copy the strategies they see working for others. In reality, the best way to be successful on social media is to showcase your unique brand voice. And, most importantly, be social! It doesn’t matter how slick your videos and photos are if you aren’t responding to and engaging with customer comments. – Brittany Hodak, Brittany Hodak

14. Your customers aren’t on social media.
The biggest social media marketing myth that must be debunked is thinking that your customers aren’t on social media. This is especially common for B2B companies and unsexy industries like construction, heavy engineering and so on. Everyone uses social media these days — you just need to find your audience. Figuratively speaking, you won’t sell trenches on TikTok. Make a judgment call. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

15. Social media won’t lead to ROI.
Not all social media campaigns are created equal. One myth is that social media leads to impressions only and does not lead to direct sales or ROI. The fact of the matter is, any marketing tactic on any platform should have direct ROI. If it doesn’t, it is not effective and should be re-evaluated for better-performing platforms. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

Get to know job candidates with these 16 insightful questions

There’s more to every job candidate than just their résumé. While a list of skills provides useful insight into how well an applicant’s experiences match the position requirements, it won’t provide enough information to help you know whether that person is the right fit for your organization. A candidate who appears perfect on paper may not quite “click” with the rest of the team, while another candidate who lacks certain skills may show great potential to grow within the company.

The Business Journals

To inspire you to look beyond a candidate’s résumé or LinkedIn profile, 16 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share insightful questions they’ve asked in interviews and what they learned about applicants in the process.

1. ‘How did you enhance the culture in your previous work environment?’
I believe it is important to hire candidates who enhance a company’s culture. I like to ask candidates to share how they have contributed to and enhanced the culture of their previous work environments. Responses are raw, unrehearsed and sincere. – Brigg Bunker, Foulger-Pratt

2. ‘What are some ways you made an impact beyond your job description?’
This question allows you to focus less on requirements and more on potential outcomes. What makes someone an outstanding candidate isn’t always captured on paper or within checklists. Provide an opportunity for them to tell you a story, offer insights into their thought processes and reveal their mindset for impact. – Keri Higgins-Bigelow, livingHR, Inc.

3. ‘What are your long-term career goals?’
We like to know what a candidate is looking for in their career in the long term, even outside of the interview. The range of answers we’ve received has helped us see how we can help candidates achieve their personal career goals, regardless of the amount of time they may be with us. Likewise, depending on the answer, we’ll know if they are a team player for the short or long term and can plan accordingly. – Joseph Princz, Wrecking Ball

4. ‘How do you handle a recurring problem you can’t change?’
Sometimes there are issues that are out of their control. If an employee fixates on problems and can’t move beyond them, it can limit their ability to do the job. – Allison Kreiger Walsh, The Recovery Village

5. ‘What is your genius zone?’
I like talking about the “genius zone” — what they do uniquely that feels effortless and alive but is an obstacle for others. This is different than a zone of competence (what they are good at doing). Success is achieved if you can help someone get and stay in their genius zone. First, they need to be able to articulate what it is. Probing that with curiosity is fun. – Russell Benaroya, Stride

6. ‘What do you want to do next?’
One of my favorite interview questions to ask candidates is what they want to do after their time at our company. One of my jobs as a CEO is to empower the people who work for me. If I know the aspirations of an individual, we can help get them there while they’re here with us. – Blake Miller, Homebase.ai

7. ‘What has happened when you’ve been criticized?’
Since ours is a mentor/mentee relationship when starting new people, it’s imperative that they be coachable. Of course, every interviewee claims they are the poster person for coachability. The most insightful item we put on the table is: “Describe several situations in which you’ve been criticized and what happened.” Then, we listen for defensive versive receptive response patterns. – Greg Boucher, ThinkingAhead

8. ‘Tell me about a work task you found challenging.’
I ask the applicant to tell me a story about something they did at work that they found very challenging and whether they were proud of the outcome. The resulting anecdote frequently illustrates their organizational, interpersonal and problem-solving skills. – John Dini, MPN Inc.

9. ‘Describe the best job you ever had.’
I ask candidates to describe the best job they’ve had or the best team they’ve worked on. What made it the best? It gives me insight into how they collaborate, how they like to work, what challenges them and how they define work “success.” The answers are usually about the impact of the work/project itself as well as what they enjoyed about the experience. – Aviva Ajmera, SoLVE KC

10. ‘What do you know about this company?’
It’s always a good sign for me when a candidate has prepared an answer to this question. Good candidates will not only answer this question but also prepare suggestions or ideas that they think could contribute to your company goals. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

11. ‘What did you learn from your most recent failure?’
I want to know about a recent failure and what they learned from it. People fail because they try things they have not done before; they stretch themselves. I want to work with people who are not afraid of going to the edge of their comfort zone and learning something about themselves or the process that they can implement. – Priya Cloutier, Cloutier Arnold Jacobowitz PLLC

12. ‘How do you get customer/client buy-in?’
My favorite question to ask is, “How can you tell if a customer or client hasn’t bought into your proposed solution, and what do you typically do about it?” This question shows you their level of empathy and ability to read between the lines, as well as their problem resolution capacity — all in one question. – Courtney Folk, Textile Restorations

13. ‘What would you do in the following situation?
Ask a candidate to provide their ideas about a real-world business situation you are looking to solve. You’ll get to see what their approach would be to tackle the situation and come up with a strategic response. This insight is key to seeing how they think through things and how they would respond to you or the business on a daily basis. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

14. ‘What is the most significant constructive criticism you’ve received in a performance review?’
First, it’s a red flag if they say they’ve never received negative feedback or criticism. I also want to see how comfortable they are when talking about self-improvement. But most importantly, I want to know what they did to learn from and improve upon that criticism. It speaks to their humility. – Kedran Whitten, Brand825

15. ‘What is your Enneagram type?’
I enjoy seeing what number someone is on the Enneagram. It allows me to see the real person and understand how they relate to the world. I also look at the staff currently doing the job where I have a need and see where they fall on the Enneagram. It helps me know what number will best suit that role when interviewing. – Amber Duncan, Jackie

16. Try some silence.
Silence is actually an extremely effective tool when interviewing. People will tell you all sorts of things about themselves if given the silence to do so. After they’ve answered a question, sometimes I take my time making notes. Often applicants will feel compelled to fill the space with more about themselves. – Tashina Bailey, The Bar Method Portland

Leaders: Conquer stress with these 15 strategies

As a leader, you’re constantly juggling multiple responsibilities and significant demands on your time. Overtime hours, countless meetings and a long list of deliverables can all take their toll on you — and this doesn’t even include any personal stressors that may arise.

The Business Journals

Managing multiple work and personal responsibilities can be incredibly taxing, so you’ll need to take extra steps to take care of yourself and keep your headspace clear. Here, the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share 15 strategies to prevent major life stressors from overtaking your mind.

1. Set aside ‘distraction-free’ time in your day.
It is important to set aside time in your day with no distractions so you can dive into important projects. Once you clear your mind and your plate of these important tasks, it leaves room to tackle the day-to-day and allows you space to leave your work at the office (whether physical or virtual) so you can be present in your personal interactions as well. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Pinpoint the problem and think through the worst-case scenario.
To paraphrase a passage from Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, ask yourself: What is the actual problem or stressor? Then, determine the worst-case scenario and accept that as a possible outcome. Maybe a client relationship is at risk or a monetary impact looms — OK, acceptance. Start immediately taking steps to improve the outcome. Write it down. – Stephen Maher, MJM ARCHITECTS, LLC

3. Practice gratitude.
Before I begin my workday, I practice gratitude. With my coffee in hand, I write down the first five to 10 things that come to mind that I am thankful for. They can be as small as the sound of the waves crashing outside my window or the taste of that first spring strawberry. The small act of appreciating the things in my life creates a positive space for the day that combats everyday stress. – Andrea Heuston, Artitudes Design Inc.

4. Seek mentors.
Meditation, reading and yoga are all great, but finding someone who has been there before and talking through stresses you are going through is invaluable. Have different mentors for different topics in your life. Being able to soak up the wisdom from a person who has experienced the same type of stress you are feeling will shorten the time of stress and lead to faster solutions. – Lane Conner, Fuzse

5. Exercise daily.
I find that if I do not exercise every day, then stress creeps in. Exercise doesn’t just help reduce my stress — often I come up with a potential solution to my problem during the workout. – Bob Rauf, Meridian Financial

6. Determine whether it’s something you can control.
Have an honest conversation with yourself on whether this is something you can actually control or not. If it is, get focused and grind it out. If it’s not, be willing to accept that and let go of the outcome. If you can spend your day making a positive impact on multiple things, that’s a great mental balance with the stress of the things you can’t control. – Chris Hogan, Benefit Commerce Group, an Alera Group Company

7. Find a balance of work and personal activity that’s best for you.
I allow myself to take work home and to do personal things during what is typically considered the “workday.” This helps me to avoid mental fatigue and stress through a variety of tasks and actions to keep my mind sharp and productive. – Rhiannon Samuel, Viante New Mexico

8. Lean on others.
In times of stress, lean on others. Great leaders build an organization on the shoulders of others. Sometimes we forget that we are only successful because of the skills and abilities of others. When stress occurs, some tend to absorb the pressure rather than to spread it among the very people most able to weather the storm. Share the burdens, but also share the joy of success. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing

9. Pursue non-work passions.
Find a hobby, activity or interest that you are proximally passionate about. It is indeed just a method of distracting the mind, but if attractive enough, it breaks the focus of thought. If you give the mind a break, it usually comes back to the stress point with a less “consumed” perspective and perhaps even a way of tackling whatever is causing the stress. – Michael Sluka, B2B CFO Partners

10. Find your ‘zen.’
Find your “zen,” which isn’t limited to a meditation app or yoga. My zen hours happen twice a day. The first is between 4 and 6 a.m. This is when I catch up on news, do a crossword puzzle and spend time reading and writing. Then, from 4 to 6 p.m., it happens again, first with a bike ride and then cooking and eating dinner with my family. Prioritize your “zen times” and you’ll be amazed at all you get done. – Sam Davidson, Batch

11. Prioritize self-care.
It’s easy to keep working and try to push through the stressor, but that only increases your stress. It is important to take good care of yourself and manage the demands at work. If there are too many projects or demands, then you need to prioritize and focus on the top of the list. When the stressors come that are unavoidable, taking care of yourself will ensure you have the energy to persevere. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

12. Find a trusted mental health professional.
I firmly believe everyone should have a mental health professional as part of their health care team. I reached out to a psychologist during an extremely stressful time. My sessions allowed me to focus both professionally and personally. I was able to successfully navigate the challenges beyond my expectations. It might take a couple of tries to find the provider who’s right for you. Don’t give up. – Shannon Laine, HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum St. Louis

13. Put every activity into your calendar.
When managing time, we like to say, “Intention becomes action when it is put into Outlook.” If you don’t plan and schedule your time, the day-to-day firefighting will keep you from tracking down the arsonist. Put the time you need for each project, including personal time, into your calendar. – Paul Herring, 101 Solutions LLC

14. Take time to disconnect.
Delivering strong performance is heavily influenced by what professionals do outside of work. It’s important to take time outside of work to occasionally disconnect, reflect and get ready to jump back into projects refreshed. The best ideas will often result from taking a step back and reevaluating the situation from a fresh perspective. – Vincent Phamvan, Vyten Career Coaching

15. Locate your ‘lighthouse.’
You have to have a “lighthouse” that serves as your point of reference. That lighthouse can be a spouse, religion, a mentor, friend, etc. In this age of disappearing work boundaries, electronics that never shut off and 24/7 availability, you have to learn to establish your own boundaries driven by your personal values. Our lighthouses serve to help us stay focused on what matters. – Adam Boudreaux, The Leadership Group LLC