Influencer Series: Kathy Braddock

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Kathy Braddock is a managing director at William Raveis New York City, the 100th office of William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance, the largest family-owned residential real estate company in the Northeast. During her 30-plus years in the real estate industry, her business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit has helped build and form some of New York’s most distinguished real estate firms, including Rutenberg Realty, which she co-founded and grew from the ground up, with zero agents, into the sixth-largest residential brokerage in New York City, and Douglas Elliman (DE), for which she served as an executive managing director and general sales manager. The Distracted Executive: You are clearly very successful! Can you give my readers your #1 strategy for keeping all the balls in the air at the same time? What do you do?

Kathy Braddock: I start with an old fashioned to-do list; As I complete a task I put a line through it. As well, I try to calculate how long a task will take, and therefore I know how much time I have left to devote to other projects. I also know what my strengths and weaknesses are, so I try to delegate the tasks that I don't think are the best use of my time. And if I have to do something that I really hate, I reward myself at the end.

TDE: You work with brokers and salespeople all day long. How do you keep them motivated to keep producing for you?

KB: By focusing on their strengths and weaknesses. I try to teach them to work the way that I do. Coaching them to constantly think of themselves as their own brand. Making them reach out to their sphere of influence and not think about all the other brokers out there. Putting blinders on them so that they simply focus on themselves.

TDE: What is your favorite way to communicate in business these days and why?

KB: I believe in face-to-face communication and following up on the phone. Email is for confirming a time to meet, not much more. Many things get screwed up in email communication. You really can't tell the tone or the intent of the sender.

TDE: How do you deal with interruptions during the day? What do you do to get re-focused and on track?

KB: I ask someone to wait a minute while I finish up. I jot down where I left off and then resume. Sometimes I take a snack break to get re-focused or just push through. Again, a simple personal reward sometimes works.

You can reach Kathy by email at Kathy.Braddock@raveis.com.

Email Mistakes We All Seem to Be Making These Days

I read what I think is a terrific (and also slightly scary) article in the Wall Street Journal by Sue Shellenbarger a few weeks ago entitled "Stop Wasting Everyone's Time," about how meetings and email are literally killing hours we need to be doing other things! Not telling you anything you don't know but what I found interesting and informative are some of the things we ALL are probably guilty of that we may not even realize. What is scary is how much we are all wasting each other's time and overloading one another just with our email communication alone.

Seagate Technology, a California company studied how its teams work together. According to the study, ( where they worked with 7600 people) they found that one single client was generating nearly 3700 emails and draining 8,000 work hours annually from 228 employees at Seagate. Fortunately for Seagate, they took this information very seriously ( it has to start from the top) and have made some significant changes that have had significant results in terms of available time to get real work done.

Shellenbarger talks about some of the biggest email culprits that waste everyone's time and put a huge dent in productivity and bottom line profitability.

When you email, do you:

  • Invite too many people at too many levels of management?
  • CC too many people routinely?
  • Constantly hit that "reply all" button without thinking?- UGH
  • Confuse recipients with vague subject lines
  • Frustrate attendees by stating unclear/vague agendas in your email
  • Invite feedback in your emails
  • Fail to make clear what recipients are supposed to do

Very often we can be part of the problem without intending to be. Becoming aware of some of our tendencies is the first step to making real changes. For example, are you a person who uses email to work out disagreements or invites colleagues to meetings to make them feel important or sends open-ended emails just to update colleagues about projects in case they want to weigh in?

All of this, ultimately, well intended or not, is draining us and causing high levels of stress, not to mention overwhelm and exhaustion every day.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope that I have given you some interesting things to think about when working on your next email or hitting that "reply all" button. Even if you make one small change in the way you are doing things, I know it will be greatly appreciated on the receiving end.

Have a productive day!

Coach Nancy

Influencer Series: Deborah Asseraf

In 2013, after working at ABC Television for three years coordinating large-scale galas and concerts, Deborah Asseraf decided she had her fill of cookie cutter events and started Popcorn Productions. Popcorn is an experiential marketing company that helps business owners break through the noise and claim their spotlight through strong, fun and innovative marketing strategies. Through a combination of laser-focused marketing strategies and innovative exercises, Popcorn Productions helps business owners convert prospects into paying customers by enhancing touch points into interactivitiesDeborah also hosts bi-monthly women's networking event PopEvents, and writes for Epoch Times through her blog Social Pulse.

The Distracted Executive: What are the biggest distractions that you deal with every day?

Deborah Asseraf: My email. I schedule ninety-minute blocks in my schedule where I don't check email, and I simply focus on fulfillment, but then I find myself spending at least that much time on the back-end catching up. I guess it's never a win-win.

TDE: Everything seems important or urgent these days. How do you efficiently navigate your to-do list without hindering your success?

DA: My to-do list comes second to my client's success. I manage all my time and efforts on them and then schedule what's left for my internal business development. The business only runs successfully if clients are happy and talking about you, so that is my #1 priority.

TDE: Give my readers one tip on how to keep it all together.

DA: There is freedom in numbers: Track everything! I track how much time I spend on projects to sales, cashflow and networking. I want to know exactly where my sales are coming from so I can concentrate my time and energy solely on what's working.

TDE: You manage people and work with some people who are all over the place. How do you deal with someone who is very distracted and not giving you what you need?

DA: Before starting to work with a client, I generally form three solid goals my client wants to achieve in order to move forward. When my clients becomes distracted, doesn't do the work or isn't giving me what I need, I simply point back to those goals and use them as motivators. 

TDE: As an entrepreneur, what is the greatest challenge in your business today and what are you doing to address it?

DA: Growth to me is a very exciting challenge just because so many options comes along with it. The key is finding the growth that aligns with your long-term vision, and that can sometimes be tricker than it seems. I create a marketing calendar to keep me and my clients on track, but I also make sure to revisit those calendars constantly to update, revamp or add things. A business is very much like a work of art - it is never finished!

Gifts and Glitches

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My wonderful client Bruce T. is a senior partner at a top tier law firm in Chicago where he has been for the past 15 years. He isn't sure whether he is ADHD or not ( doesn't matter). But what does matter are the gifts and glitches he deals with in his work on a daily basis. He recently shared with me and I found it not only fascinating but also SO textbook!

Keep in mind as you read that this person is REALLY ACCOMPLISHED and SUCCESSFUL.

See if you identify with some of the "weaknesses and positives" he shared with me.

Weaknesses/Glitches

  • He is slow to start important projects (which often end up much easier than expected once he does start) and hence always behind and losing opportunities to impress.
  • Often quick to jump into something, but then slows down to a crawl trying to get it done.
  • Not great at communicating with interested parties and keeping them apprised of progress even though he is usually doing a great job and getting it done.
  • Always worried about the reactions of others because of his procrastination.
  • Spends way too much time on less important projects.
  • Challenged with follow through.
  • Spends too much time looking for paperwork to be sure he hasn't missed anything.
  • Finds the social aspect of business development and customer service very boring ( as in small talk etc) Sometimes he does enjoy it but mostly feels disconnected.
  • Not great at internal politics
  • Often slow to return calls because of so much going on all of the time. Challenges with prioritizing.

Positives/ Gifts

  • Out of the box thinker; always coming up with creative solutions and anticipatory ideas that others don't see. The one to spot issues that others miss!
  • Strong technical skills when he focuses and directs them purposefully.
  • Can be really charming and brings in really interesting clients.
  • Very loyal and dedicated ( perhaps to a fault)
  • Great with clients in the context of an issue or problem. Easily jumps in and reassures them. Knows and says the right things.
  • Great advising colleagues and friends on personal as well as professional issues.
  • Very persuasive negotiator when in the zone.
  • Well liked and highly regarded in the firm.
  • Great confident, public speaker

Yes. This can be a typical profile of an ADHD executive or the typical profile of a business professional who is simply distracted and overloaded ( like most of us) with too much to do and not enough time to do it in.

What is important here is to be really honest with yourself. Deal with the glitches so that the gifts grow  and you are not dragging around all of this unnecessary baggage for one more day!

Have a productive one,

Coach Nancy

Influencer Series: Natalie Zfat

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Natalie Zfat is a sought-after social media influencer, writer and entrepreneur who works with brands like adidas Women, Levi's and American Express. The Distracted Executive sat down with Natalie to talk about her less-than-traditional job, her biggest source of distraction - and how she keeps all of her projects organized.

The Distracted Executive: You work with very busy, very successful clients day in and day out. How do you stay organized and on top of each client's point of view, considering you have so many clients that all run simultaneously?

Natalie Zfat: At my company The Social Co., we truly have an amazing team of writers, designers, account managers and more. A great team has been our key to getting it right. We've found success by empowering our staff to focus on their strengths and delegate responsibilities, so that no task - or client - falls by the wayside.

TDE: What are the distractions that you and your clients deal with every day?

NZ: Technology can be polarizing in the sense that it's our biggest ally in distributing content - but it's also a constant potential source of distraction, whether it be streaming emails, texts or even Tweets. Helping brands with social media takes at least one potential distraction off their plates - and lets them focus on what they're truly an expert at.

TDE: Give my readers one tip on how you keep it all together.

NZ: Most people keep a to-do list, but it's been invaluable to me to also calendar each item on my to-do list, hand-writing what date and time I need to complete each task by. I might be a digital entrepreneur, but I never leave my house without my paper planner.

TDE: I would be remiss if I didn't ask you the biggest question on everyone's mind. Why should I bother with social media, when I might not get a return on the investment?

NZ: As I know you often like to say, Nancy: "I'm not in the convincing game; I'm in the collaborating game." Social media is no longer an option; it's a priority, as businesses rely on social media to both communicate with their audiences and become the voice of their brand. Brands who fail to capitalize on conversations with their audiences are only road-blocking their success.

TDE: I can barely handle everything I need to do. Isn't social media just one more job on my plate?

NZ: Not if you hire us.

You can follow Natalie's updates on Twitter.