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How We Use Trello to Stay Focused on Tasks that Matter

Have you ever noticed that the days you wake up feeling most inspired can also be the least productive?

You start the day overflowing with ideas for new projects, improvements you could make to your website, and ideas on how you can run your social media accounts better.

It’s all you can do to acknowledge one great idea before another comes knocking.

But before you know it, that creative energy turns against you. You can’t focus on any one task and start to feel frustrated that you’re not able to make progress on any of them.

This is something that used to overtake me a lot. Looking back at my years of business, those are days I wish I could get back, because it feels like I spent them yearning for what could be, rather than taking concrete steps to make my vision come to be.

Now, I still wake up with those days, but I have a place to channel all that energy.

Our team’s Trello.

Trello is a project management tool that my team has been using for the past year to manage everything from client work to launches to marketing activities to our team learning.

So when my friend Natasha Vorompiova told me she was releasing a guide on how you can use Trello to organize your business, I jumped at the chance to talk with her about how our team uses Trello.

We went deep into:

  • Why we decided to use Trello, and which other project management tools we tested
  • How we slowly transitioned our to do’s and client conversations to Trello
  • Some of the specific fears that came up when we decided to include clients on some of our boards
  • How Trello helps me be more creative
  • How our boards evolved over time

Watch the video to find out how my team uses Trello to capture our ideas and focus on the tasks that matter.

 

10 Podcasts We’re Loving Right Now

10 Podcasts We're Loving Right Now

It’s Maggie here! Brigitte and I listen to a LOT of podcasts, because they are so beneficial to our clients. Interview-style podcasts can give you up to an hour to elaborate on your story and connect with listeners in a meaningful way. Hosts often include a link to your website (even a landing page with resources!) in the show notes that drive traffic to your site. This is why podcasts are some of the best media opportunities out there right now.

But mostly, we’re both fans of podcasts, because you can listen to exactly what you want, when you want.

I know we’re not the only ones. If you weren’t already a long-time podcast listener, you were hooked when Serial became all the rage. With the new season starting, you’re probably back on the podcast bandwagon, but missing out on a ton of other fabulous shows that could liven up your car rides.

That’s why we wanted to share with you the podcasts — business and personal — we can’t get enough of right now, that we think you might like, too.

1. Invisibilia

Get ready for goosebumps! This podcast weaves together narrative storytelling with scientific research about the invisible forces that control our behavior. It’s hard to explain, so I suggest you take a listen. You might like this episode about a blind man who uses echo-location or the show on how and why categories are so important to us.

2. Inc. Uncensored

Want to get in the great (and witty) minds of the writers and editors of one of your favorite business magazine? The fast-moving, roundtable-style podcast with Inc. editor James Ledbetter and his veteran staff has something to inspire and excite any savvy entrepreneur.

Inc. covers everything from industry trends (listen to how vegans, vegetarians and PETA have created a meatless business market for entrepreneurs to poach) to cool companies (like the drone company in episode #44 serving the military and consumers).

3. Biz Women Rock! with Katie Krimitsos

What we l-o-v-e about this interview-style podcast is that Katie talks to all sorts of successful business women from the inventor who is licensing Grill Charms to the business based on sign language for babies. It’s the variety of industries that these powerhouse women conquer that keeps things interesting.

4. The Get Paid Podcast

There are a lot of business podcasts out there full of fluff. This isn’t one of them. If you want to know how and what online entrepreneurs are actually getting paid, this podcast is for you.

Claire pushes her guests… softly, but just far enough to get the numbers you’re dying to hear. It’s these numbers that provide much needed context for each interview. One of my favorite episodes was about running a design agency with staff and an office.

5. Dose of Leadership

This list wouldn’t be complete without Dose of Leadership. Richard Rierson brings to the table his experience as a Marine and corporate executive along with the most fantastic guests, including Barbara Corcoran, Steve Forbes and our client Kelly Studer.

We were listening to the show before it was recognized by Fortune Magazine as a “Top-9 Business Podcast” and appreciate Richard’s brand of leadership — the pursuit of excellence, truth and common sense with a dash of intentional living.

6. StartUp

This is a podcast about the making of a podcast network, and it totally works. Season 1 followed Alex Blumberg (you might know him from The Giant Pool of Money, the amazing NPR program that explored the mortgage crisis) as he pitched investors, brought on a co-founder and launched his company. Season 2 explored a second startup called Dating Ring.

We recommend starting from the beginning with the hilariously and endearingly episode titled How Not To Pitch a Billionaire.

7. 99% Invisible

This podcast saved Brigitte this year! You might know that her husband is an ultra marathoner, and a couple times a year, she finds herself driving from aid station to aid station over the course of 24 hours (that’s about how long it takes him to run 100 miles). About midway through, her attention span starts to wane, and 99% Invisible short takes on how design influences everything offers just the right combination of fascinating and ridiculous (<– this one is still Brigitte’s favorite).

8. Slate’s Political Gabfest

Brigitte wanted to include this one, because she feels very invested in political discourse and wishes it were kosher to talk about our views more openly, because democracy.

She’s also passionate about the role of a free press. So she was absolutely gleeful when she found a bunch of podcasts that feature journalists talking to each other about podcasts. Slate’s Political Gabfest is her absolute favorite. If you tune in, expect lively debates in a conversational style.

9. Manager Tools

Manager Tools was recommended by Brigitte’s husband ages ago, but we only recently got on board. As we work to expand this agency, it’s important to create a great place to work. And that means that part of the job is developing managerial skills.

If you’re expanding your company or a new or untrained manager, we highly recommend the Manager Tools Basics series, which covers everything from giving effective feedback to building relationships with your staff to coaching. It sounds dry, I know, but the hosts have worked together for decades, and they have a fun Devil’s advocate thing going.

10. Profit.Power.Pursuit.

Our final pick is a newer podcast hosted by friend of the agency and frequent collaborator Tara Gentile for Creative Live. Of course, we’re totally biased, but you should still give it a listen!

Tara’s always been a great interviewer — she’s always prepared, and she asks deep questions, so even if you’ve heard an interview with the guest before, you can expect to hear something new. We just listened to her interview with Michael Port (episode 11), and we were nodding along by minute five.

Phew! It was tough narrowing down our favorite podcasts to 5 each! We hope you’ll try out some of our picks, and we’d love to know what YOUR favorite podcasts are. Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

How Do You Balance Short-Term Priorities And Long-Term Growth?

With deadlines looming, how do you manage to find the time to work on long-term priorities for your business?

This is a question all businesses grapple with, at every level of success. We see it all the time as we work with people on their PR, which for most organizations, is a long-term growth opportunity. Things like raising awareness, building reputation and being known for an idea or cause don’t happen overnight, and the success of a PR campaign isn’t measured the same way you might measure a list-building campaign.

A common trap many organizations fall into is prioritizing activities that are fast and easy to complete. With a long list of opportunities and to do’s in front of you, it’s easy to say yes to participating in a telesummit that may take up an hour or two of your time and say no to starting your podcast, which will require hours of learning and coordination time.

But which is a better use of your time?

Well, I can’t answer that for you. But what I can do is give you a better way to frame the question, so you can arrive at more strategic decisions when you’re pondering all the things you could possibly promote or create.

What-Do-You-Want-to-Be-Known-For

For most people we work with, the problem isn’t that you don’t know what your priorities should be. Your biggest obstacle as a business owner and as a leader is distraction — both your own distractions and those of your audience.

Being relentlessly focused on the legacy of your work is a way to tame the distractions and keep creating items of value.

Because here’s the thing. Every time you put something out that’s not building the legacy of your work, you’ve lost an opportunity to communicate something that you value.

You’ve probably heard the marketing adage that your customer needs to hear your message seven times before they remember it. According to the research on how we take in and recall information, that turns out to be based in fact. When your customer first learns a concept or discover something new, it gets stored in her short-term memory. It takes repetition to encode that new data or factoid into her long-term memory storage.

This is why leaders like Brene Brown and Pam Slim stay on message. Every time you communicate with an audience, you have a fresh opportunity to make an impression. To be effective at helping them create an association around your brand, or your name, it’s important to constantly reinforce the ideas you’d like them to recall.

When we ask people what they want their business to be known for, it can be intimidating. If you’re not quite sure, the following exercise (from a course we secretly developed and ran this summer!) is a helpful way to approach the question.

Call to mind a someone who knows you well, and who’s very familiar with your business. This person could be another business owner, a customer or a member of your mastermind group.

Now imagine s/he is about to introduce you to someone you’ve very much wanted to partner with. This could be anyone from a podcaster, book agent or organizer of an event you’d love to speak at.

In an ideal world, what would your friend say about you and your business in an introduction email?

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey writes about beginning with the end in mind. He says that, in order to create a legacy, you must work to build that legacy through your actions and words every day.

Looking at your to do list, which items help you create that impression, that legacy, in the minds of your customers, colleagues and collaborators?

  

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