10 Ways That Productive People Get More Work Done in Fewer Hours

The sunny summer months are a perfect time to increase your productivity at work without spending an exorbitant amount of time there.

In the U.S., we tend to correlate longer working hours with greater productivity and efficacy in a business.

However, spending more time at work may not really be helping us. Consider a few studies:

  • In a study of consultants, managers couldn't distinguish "between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to" (HBR).
  • "Employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours" (IZA).
  • White-collar professionals who worked 10 hours a day were 60% more likely to have heart problems than those who worked seven hours a day (UCL).

So it's not just a matter of productivity — it's a matter of health.

Consider these tips to get more done at work in fewer hours, so you can get out and enjoy the summertime. For more productivity ideas, check out our interactive infographic 10 Scientifically Proven Tactics to Stay Productive.

 

1. They set aside time for deep work.

 

First, understand what "deep work" means for your role. Cal Newport, author of the NYT bestseller Deep Work, explains that “deep work is what produces real value. Deep work is what allows you to improve your skills rapidly. Deep work is what allows you to produce things that are rare and valuable. And in the end, that’s really the key currency in our in our current economy. The stuff that you can do that’s really valuable and not easily replicable is the only thing that is going to move the needle.”

So, what does this look like in practice? Deep work usually means that you're heads-down in a project that requires your utmost concentration. Set aside a block of at least 90 minutes without meetings each day so you can accomplish this all-important work.

 

2. They create a "must do" list for each day.

 

Personally, I like to start my workdays with a list of must-dos instead of to-dos. This lets me first worry about all the must-do items before I begin to tackle the "maybe today, maybe tomorrows." My work day is often rerouted from what I thought it would be — by random meetings, semi-urgent emails, and chat messages requesting my help. So if I don't start on the must-dos until 3 or 4 p.m., there's no way I can finish work at a decent time.

That's why I aim to start with only 1-2 must-dos for each day, so I'm only leaving work after I accomplish the truly necessary stuff. For those of us who also suffer from a touch of perfectionism, this also helps decrease the self-expectation of finishing a massive task list every day.

 

3. They seriously don't multitask the important stuff.

 

By now, you probably know that multitasking isn't really a thing. But even frequently switching tasks can hamper our productivity by 40%. Task-switching can feel like a way of life in many high-stress professional jobs (phones are ringing; chats are coming in; emails are popping off), but do your best to switch off as many tasks as you can so you can truly concentrate and make fewer mistakes.

In general, switching from task to task is only going to introduce errors into your work as you lose your train of thought. So while it may be fine to answer a quick email on your phone while you're walking to a meeting, it's probably not a good idea to edit an important document while talking on the phone.

 

4. They turn off Slack, text messages, email, or whatever ails them for a designated time.

 

Of course, you need to be available when your teammates need you. But that doesn't mean you need a distracting alert popping up every time someone from the office just wants to say hey.

When you're really angling to complete a project by a deadline (or get off work on time), turn off these distractions until you're finished. You can always let your coworkers know the plan so they're not surprised when you don't immediately reply.

 

5. They hide their phones.

 

For most of us, our smartphones are always lurking nearby, providing ample distraction via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, stock market updates, and more. Turn off the visual cue that your phone offers for distraction ("Hey, check me again!") by simply putting it away during prime working hours.

 

6. They block off time on their calendars when they have to stop working.

 

Whether it's putting a virtual block on your calendar for after 5:30 p.m. or scheduling a daily walk with a friend, you'll get more done if you have an actual deadline for when a day's work must be completed. If you let work hang into the early evening and beyond, you'll never let your sense of urgency kick you into overdrive to complete a project.

 

7. They create external deadlines.

 

Self-imposed deadlines are better than nothing, but external deadlines are the true productivity boosters. In one MIT study, self-imposed deadlines improved performance, but people typically didn’t set their own deadlines to really push themselves. In other words, we tend to go easy on ourselves. So to truly increase your productivity, set deadlines for key projects — then tell others about those deadlines to hold you accountable. This strategy will definitely help you get those projects finished without working until 7 p.m. on a summer Friday.

 

8. They make 15- or 20-minute meetings the norm.

 

Think about how much time in meetings is wasted. Think about it: You probably have to get approval from your manager for a $500 expense... but you can call a one-hour meeting with 20 people and no one notices. Time is money, and we can often spend the first 5-10 minutes making small talk or introducing the topic because there's no sense of urgency.

Instead, focus on making the most of everyone's time by scheduling shorter meetings (say, 15-20 minutes) and only going longer if the subject matter truly warrants it. Attendees will get to the point more quickly once they know there's an imminent ending.

 

9. They get meeting agendas and goals ahead of time, or else, they don't attend.

 

A meeting without an agenda and clear goals is a meeting that's going to take too long. If someone calls a meeting and can't be bothered to explain what it is ahead of time so you can come prepared with ideas, it may not be worth attending.

 

10. They stop reading blog posts about productivity and get to work.

 

Of course, I'm half-joking. I'm happy to have you reading my blog post. But the more time you spend reading about productivity, the less time you'll have to actually complete whatever it is that you need to do today. And the less time you'll have to enjoy a beautiful summer evening. So get and stay focused, and, like Nike always reminds us, just do it.

Are you a true procrastinator? Or you're tackling a massive project? There's lots more productivity advice where that came from, and we all have our own working styles. Explore our interactive infographic 10 Scientifically Proven Tactics to Stay Productive for even more ideas — so you're sure to find something that works for you.

Switching Off For Summer: Advice From The Pool Bar

Summertime, and the living is easy. Or at least it used to be. George Gershwin can probably consider himself lucky to have lived his life well before the smartphone era, when for many of us vacation can end up meaning juggling family and work - and considerably more stress than either of those things can cause on their own.

I don’t mind admitting I am a fan of switching off. I can’t pretend I won’t keep one eye on the world of work, but as a rule, my intention is to keep it at arm’s length. Aside from anything else, I am a firm believer that we’re all more productive for taking time out and broadening our horizons. Certainly, in the world of marketing, there’s a strong argument that you learn more from a good novel than yet another business tome, or worse again an endless email thread about some technical triviality.

That’s why my personal policy is to take control of my technology, and in extreme circumstances, put physical distance between myself and it. I try to keep my laptop in the overhead bin on the plane, and my smartphone in a kitchen or desk draw for at least part of the day.

That isn’t always easy. In its role as the ‘personal digital assistant,’ the smartphone is a fantastic vacation partner. It takes photos, gives us directions, and helps us find a great place to eat when we’re off the tourist trail. So we tend to carry it around with us. If that sounds like you, try turning off your notifications for email, messaging, push and so on. It is remarkable how Pavlovian our response to those beeps and vibrations can be - so don’t take the risk!

Now the case for the defense. I can’t be the only one who prefers to have advance warning of any triumphs or disasters before walking back through the office door. There’s no mistaking the benefits of having the smartphone on hand during a week or fortnight away. It means I can have a decent grasp of the big picture, even if I don’t want the full detail. You could argue that I want to have things both ways, but my attitude probably reveals something interesting about the smartphone generation: we want engagement on our own terms and we prefer to pick and choose when it happens.

We can’t always pick and choose, of course. Some things demand our attention no matter what. But it certainly helps to be aggressive with the filtering process when away from home and trying to spend time with the family (assuming, that is, that you enjoy their company).

Our fellow employees can help in that regard too, and indeed so can the brands and businesses who are lucky enough to be on my phone and from which I am happy to receive native mobile advertising and push notifications. If it’s useful to me right now - like an offer on roaming or FX, then fire away. But try not to interrupt me to tell me about an in-store sale currently 1,000 miles away. You know where I am - please use that information!

Of course, all this relative isolation does mean a mountain of work when returning to base. I’ll be back with advice on that topic right after this cocktail from the pool bar. I promise.

--
Tom Farrell is the VP of Marketing at Swrve. Tom has over 20 years experience in consumer marketing, both with some of the world’s leading brands and in the tech ecosystem that supports them. Tom has been involved in mobile marketing for over six years and has worked with major app businesses to deliver successful campaigns and experiences on mobile. 

How Certifications Validate the Knowledge You’ve Gained Through Experience Over Time

I recently attended a presentation at a user group meeting given by a Salesforce MVP. In her personal introduction, she mentioned that she “only” holds two certifications. She told us that number can look quite sad when there are currently more than twenty different certifications available.

She only mentioned it in passing and it was more as a light joke. But it did make me think about how people experience certifications in the current Salesforce world. The days of there only being a handful of credentials available is in the past. So the BIG question is:

“When are certifications a valid representation of a person’s knowledge, and when are too many maybe too much?”

Nowadays, it’s much more common for people to hold multiple certifications than it used to be. Before, if you were looking for a developer role, having a Force.com Advanced Developer or Platform Developer II certification used to be a “nice to have.” But today, this level of credential is basically mandatory.

Earning a certification doesn’t automatically mean you also have a good work ethic, just like holding an Advanced Developer credential does not make you a great developer per se. The important thing is that a certification shows that you know the Salesforce best practices—how to abide by them, and when to push them to the limit.

Because Salesforce is designed to be quite intuitive, it’s easy to forget that you’re actually dealing with strategic business applications. Even the higher management layers within a business are fully aware of the importance of certified people and favor steering towards having a team with certified members. And, let's be honest, when you work in a Salesforce team it’s now pretty much expected that you know everything.

Over the last few years, Salesforce has become more structured and a lot more defined. For businesses, the testing, failing, and ultimate awesomeness of implementing something completely new has somewhat gone away. The wide availability of best practices and a huge (and very vocal!) community have taken away the need for a lot of the old-fashioned guesswork.

As this legwork has already been done by others, it means you no longer have to (re)invent the wheel for an entire implementation process. This more established ecosystem, combined with the much more mature industry, has also led to a much clearer view on the roles and profiles needed within a Salesforce team.

Today, a good Salesforce person needs to know at least a little about a lot!

And this is where certifications come into their own. An admin needs to be a little bit of a developer, but also be able to handle business requirements and do analysis. A developer needs to be a little bit of an admin, as they do some analysis, but are also expected to make architectural decisions. On top of that, everyone has to do quality control and make important decisions. And the way to prove this cross-functional knowledge is through certifications.

Passing an exam feels like a validation of the knowledge you have gained through experience over time.

I'm currently on my Certified Technical Architect (CTA) journey—as are many others right now. And it's not because it seems to be the latest buzzword, it's because I am ready. I'm simply at that stage in my career.

I got my first certification in 2013, then another in 2014, two more in 2015, and eleven between 2016 and now. Even though this seems like a steep curve after a slow start, I strongly believe that a certification should reflect your actual knowledge and complement your experience, not just represent your ability to learn by rote and reproduce text.

Certifications hold more value if the timeline of getting them reflects your actual story of experience—not just an arbitrary number to make you seem more qualified.

Take, for example, the new architect track (which is great, by the way!). I recommend that everyone who works in a development organization, or even as an administrator for that matter, should take the designer exams. Studying for these gives you the “bigger picture” view of general IT architecture in the Salesforce context. This is extremely valuable for yourself and the company you work for.

Unfortunately, I failed my first attempt at the CTA review board. It was a great experience, though. The panel were very professional, but as expected, the assignment was hard. And when I say hard, I mean really hard. I walked out the exam room already knowing the massive list of things I needed to revisit and learn.

So when all is said and done, why do I hold so many certifications? Besides the validation they bring (and the fun I have passing them), the industry standard for Salesforce professionals is only going one way, and that's up! As I'm a sucker for a challenge, I've set myself the goal of making it all the way to the Salesforce top.

My certifications have given me the confidence to go for the higher-spec jobs. When applying for a job, you stand out just a little more when you have multiple credentials, as it proves you have the skills and abilities required. This makes you a more interesting candidate to invite for an interview.

Certifications are a valuable reflection of your knowledge. They also help you to show that you take your job seriously—especially if you're a freelancer—as they demonstrate that you are willing and able to invest your time in learning the depths of a great platform. And I hope the future brings more—perhaps even specific credentials like Lighting Developer or Lightning App Builder.

Advice from a seasoned cert pro? Set yourself a goal and reach for your own “top.” It doesn’t have to be CTA, but set a realistic learning goal with achievable milestones along the way. Start earning those Trailhead badges. Get a developer org and start exploring. Join the Success Community and start collaborating. Then go for your certification. 

You may even find that your certification journey sets a good example for others and you inspire each other to aim even higher. The more you immerse yourself into the Salesforce world, the more knowledge, opportunity, and joy it will bring you!

Justus's Certifications:

Salesforce Certified Force.com Developer October 24, 2013
Salesforce Certified Administrator July 16, 2014
Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder August 19, 2015
Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator December 16, 2015
Salesforce Certified Force.com Advanced Developer March 16, 2016
Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I April 6, 2016
Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II April 6, 2016
Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle & Deployment Designer October 14, 2016
Salesforce Certified Data Architecture & Management Designer November 16, 2016
Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer November 23, 2016
Salesforce Certified Integration Architecture Designer December 7, 2016
Salesforce Certified System Architect January 20, 2017
Salesforce Certified Identity and Access Management Designer January 20, 2017
Salesforce Certified Application Architect February 1, 2017
Salesforce Certified Community Cloud Consultant May 12, 2017

If you’ve been inspired by Justus's story, learn more about how you, too, can become a Salesforce Certified Professional.

5 Ways to Build Trust With Your Team

The importance of trust in the workplace was something I did not understand early in my career. I was more concerned with progress and performance. But as I’ve grown as a leader, now serving as Director of Marketing at Salesforce, I’ve come to realize that progress and performance are dependent on trust. I would go so far as to say that if a team or an individual is underperforming, there might be a level of trust that has been broken.

I remember being part of a team where we weren't “rowing in the same direction.” My manager sent out a questionnaire for us to fill out anonymously and specifically asked us about how we can improve our collaboration as a team.

After reviewing the responses, he gathered us all together to talk through the issues. What a bold move!

What surfaced was a root of broken trust. A history of random re-orgs, unintentional hurt feelings, and a perceived lack of appreciation all built up and slowly eroded our trust in leadership and each other. However, that meeting opened the door to transparency and vulnerability — and it was a huge turning point for our team. I always will remember that manager and his desire to develop trust.

From my own career experience, here are 5 “Be's” I've learned that can build a greater level of trust:

  1. Be Personal. I've told my previous team that my biggest regret was that I didn't get to know them personally earlier. There was so much work to do, and I was focused on progress. But remembering that progress and performance is tied to trust, I pivoted and began to invest more in the relationships. Having lunch with them (vs. working through lunch), showing up for more non-work related activities, etc. not only increased trust, but I began to enjoy my job more. Win win!
  2. Be Bold. Every direct wants to know that their manager has their back and will remove barriers. Being bold builds trust. I'm not talking about an obnoxious, cocky attitude; more like understanding what your team needs and going after it. Even if you can't get them everything they're requesting, they'll begin to trust that you'll fight for them.
  3. Be Responsive. Even the best-intended communication is hollow if it's not followed by corresponding action. Say you’ll do something only if you're able to follow through, and don’t commit if there's a chance that you won’t be able to deliver. Breaking a commitment can destroy trust you’ve built as well as make people less inclined to trust you in the future.
  4. Be Transparent. When we, as leaders, acknowledge our mistakes as well as our successes, our directs begin to see us as credible and will follow our lead. Encourage honest dialogue and foster accountability. Last year I created a hashtag #DreamJobTips on Chatter, our internal social network, that came from a place of my own growth as a leader as well as lessons I learned throughout my career. I'm not saying that you need to start a Chatter hashtag, but the point is that you can — and should be — transparent about your own growth.
  5. Be vulnerable. Healthy relationships grow during hard conversations. When you're vulnerable (not emotional), it opens the door to increased trust in the relationship. A colleague once pulled me aside and shared that she was having a hard time trusting me due to a few things I'd said in passing. Though I meant nothing by my comments, it broke trust between us. If she hadn't told me, I would never have known, and the relationship would've probably gotten worse. If you feel there's even a small amount of trust broken, be bold and talk with that individual. It can be scary, but it's worth the risk.

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship — whether it's personal or professional. It isn't just Salesforce's #1 value we need have with our customers; it's also the #1 value that we, as leaders, need to champion on our own teams.

Interested in joining the team at Salesforce? We're hiring! See opportunities and apply today at salesforce.com/careers.

4 Best Practices for Learning on Trailhead

Trailhead is known as the fun way to learn Salesforce. As a millennial relatively new to both Salesforce and the industry, I am interested in taking advantage of all opportunities to increase my Salesforce knowledge and overall business skills. By combining interactive mini-courses with engaging projects, Trailhead has been a key learning resource as I have worked to build my understanding of Salesforce since joining the company. Here are my four best practices to blaze your trail in the environment that is Salesforce:

1. Focus on the Basics First

 

As you start your Trailhead experience, you may be overwhelmed with the number of options presented in front of you. I suggest starting your journey by doing modules that are tagged as beginner. Though it's good to show initiative and desire to do advanced badges, starting with the basics helps in acclimating yourself with how Salesforce works. For me, I needed to understand what a CRM was. Though I understood the definition you could look up on Wikipedia, I didn't know how it manifested itself in a product offering. The CRM Basics module in the Learn CRM Essentials trail helped show it to me. Trailhead is great at taking complex concepts used throughout the company's ecosystem and explaining them in a relatable way. Decide where you have gaps in your understanding of Salesforce, and focus on doing modules that can fill those gaps in first.

My Suggested First Badges To Earn:
CRM Basics
Salesforce Ohana Culture
Salesforce User Basics

2. Learn Through a Hands-On Approach

 

In some modules, each unit culminates in a multiple choice quiz to test one's understanding of the material, while other units feature hands-on challenges in place of quizzes. These hands-on challenges require a user to go into a functional Salesforce environment called a Trailhead Playground and complete a specific task tied to the lessons learned in the accompanied unit. When I first started working on Trailhead modules, I was nervous to undertake hands-on challenges. The challenges are excellent, however, at walking a user through the step-by-step process behind completing actions in Salesforce. For example, if a user wants to know the steps required to build a report to capture certain fields, the Reports and Dashboards trail walks them through it in a step-by-step manner.

Hands-on challenges present the blueprints a user will need to go forward with the real world tasks they need to accomplish on the job. One of my first assignments when I came to Salesforce was to create a report capturing certain fields of data from various company records. In addition to receiving the support of my manager, I utilized the Reports & Dashboards module to understand how to properly build real-time reports that reflect the data I need. To this day when people ask me how to build reports, I use that very dashboard as a guide on the process behind it.

3. Expand Your Knowledge Base

 

To successfully blaze a trail in Trailhead, the user needs to expand their knowledge past what they may be comfortable with. A successful Trailblazer completes modules and trails across a variety of subjects, in the process showcasing a vast understanding of Salesforce. Although I completed many technical badges focusing on the integration and development of Salesforce's wide product array, the area in which I expanded my knowledge the most was management. Though I may not necessarily be a people manager right now, a Trailblazer completes badges that they believe are important for their growth as an individual. The skills I learned in the Learn Drucker School MBA Essentials trail, for example, are adding benefit for me now as I learn how to manage and be a leader for my cross-country team at NYU.

4. Put in the Work to Become a Trailblazer

 

Becoming a Trailblazer takes time and effort, and it's important to not to let yourself get discouraged along the way. Trailhead is designed to be both engaging and fun, so if a particular module or trail has you feeling frustrated or burnt out, the vibrant Trailhead community is here to help you. Check out the Trailhead group in the Success Community and on Twitter, ask any questions you have and get answers from Trailblazers like you! In the meantime you can set that module aside and start another which teaches something entirely different, if you'd like. Since Trailhead maintains your progress on a trail, you don't have to complete everything in one big swoop. The key is to not slack off on your overall goal of gaining more knowledge. I knew that I was a Trailblazer when I wasn't deterred from learning about Salesforce via Trailhead, despite not understanding a concept the first time through. A person knows they are a trailblazer when they circle back on a concept they didn't get the first time to try to understand it better, because it shows that learning about that particular area of study is valuable and important to them.

My List Of Suggested Trails:
Navigate the Salesforce Advantage
Learn Drucker School MBA Essentials
Get Smart With Salesforce Einstein

Becoming a Trailblazer is a process that takes both time and dedication. It isn't a process that can be completed overnight, and it isn't one that should be rushed through quickly just to get badges or finish trails. Remember, the goal is to learn and develop the skills that are featured in Trailhead. As a millennial, Trailhead was my ticket to gaining knowledge about Salesforce, and was as valuable as my internship in teaching me about the company. Create an account today and begin your journey to become a Salesforce Trailblazer!

This piece is the second in a series that will be released this summer titled “Re-Think: A Millennial's View On Current Technology”. It will highlight the viewpoints of a millennial who has spent the past three years interning at Salesforce, one of the fastest growing and most innovative technology companies in the world. The writer is a current rising senior at New York University's Manhattan campus.

New Research: How Leading with Equality and Values Impacts Your Business

Increasingly, customers and employees expect companies — and their leaders — to stand for more than just the bottom line. More and more social advocacy, a commitment to equality, and giving back are defining successful brands. To learn more about these evolving expectations, Salesforce Research surveyed over 1,500 business professionals on workplace equality and values-driven leadership trends.

The resulting report, “The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business,” reveals that companies that lead with their values, create social impact, and actively work to make their cultures more diverse and inclusive are better positioned to achieve strong customer loyalty as well as boost employee engagement and productivity. Here are a few key stats:

  • Employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five-times (4.6X) more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work 

  • Employees who say their company provides equal opportunities are nearly four times (3.8X) more likely to say they are proud to work for their company 

  • 80% of customers and employees believe businesses have a responsibility to make a positive impact on society

  • 11 out of 14 C-level and senior executives surveyed said that it’s become more important to their company culture to promote equality

  • Only approximately one-third of business professionals (36%) say their company is actively working to be more diverse, and less than half (44%) say their company is engaged in community service

Salesforce strives to be a values-driven business and equality is one of four core values. We are working together with our entire Ohana — employees, customers, partners, community — to create a more equal world for all. Here are some thoughts from our executives working to drive equality in our workplaces and communities:

 

 

 

 

To learn more about workplace equality trends and how you can lead with your values to drive real business impact, download the full report here.

Upskilling the Youth in India to Give Them a Brighter Future in Tech

Highlighted by the Government of India's recent “Digital India” and “Make in India” initiatives, and having worked in the IT Industry for decades myself, I know that employers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire people with expertise in Cloud computing. Partnering with the Salesforce Academic Alliance program was the perfect answer to help prepare students in the Telangana area for a future in technology.

Out of the 200-230 engineering colleges in Telangana, employability is around 7-10%. And during placement season, only a maximum of 15% of students manage to secure jobs. The rest of the 85%, largely from Computer Science / IT majors, are not always then proactive, and immediately fall back into one of the countless computer courses on offer.

However, this is a grey market, as many of these institutes do not have authentic licenses, trained faculty, or the required infrastructure. Add to this that interpersonal skills and professionalism are not included in these courses, and the result is the actual scope to improve prospects becomes very limited. Our target, as a part of the employability improvement rate, is to focus not only on technical competence, but also to improve the students' organizational and communication skills, too.

In November 2015, I met with the Telangana Academy for Skill & Knowledge (TASK), the Department of IT E&C, Government of Telangana to take on an assignment designed to help upskill the youth in the state. I was then introduced to the Salesforce Academic Alliance program—created to equip universities, colleges, and non-profit organizations with the resources needed to help bridge the cloud computing skills gap. It was a tailor-made partnership. By bringing Salesforce training and certification directly into students’ hands at the educational level, together we could develop a talented pool of candidates for the Salesforce ecosystem in India.

And the journey has been phenomenal! At present, there are about 527 colleges registered with TASK in the state of Telangana. Our partnership with the Salesforce Academic Alliance team has been seamless. Together, we're developing the talent required in Salesforce technologies by launching two courses to students; (1) Declarative Development for Platform App Builders and (2) Programmatic Development using Apex and Visualforce, the second primarily aimed at engineering graduates studying in their third year. By getting students Salesforce trained and certified, we're helping them be ready for high-demand jobs such as Business Analysts, Data Analysts, Developers, Solution Architects, Technical Architects, Application Developers, Administrators, and more.

Working closely with the Salesforce team in India, we deliver awareness sessions to colleges, sharing details of the Salesforce Academic Alliance Program to both students and educators. We kicked off the first batch of training with 40 students from a rural engineering college in the Khammam district of Telangana. I must say, the Salesforce instructor was top notch and the students had a world-class learning experience!

I'm pleased to share that since then, around 23 students from that class have taken a Salesforce certification exam and five students have earned a 6-month internship with a Salesforce Partner organization, the first stepping stone for them to gain full-time employment. Not only that, but 22 students from the second batch of 40 engineering college graduates, based out of Hyderabad, have just been hired by a well-known IT service and solution provider in the region. 

There is a dire need for students in Telangana to be well-trained. Most of the regions have underdeveloped communities where any aspirations for a better life rarely see the light of day. A woman called me recently and thanked me; she was a daily-wage laborer and her daughter had secured a job due to the upskilling of her technology capabilities. She simply wanted to reach out and express what it meant to her that her family will be getting the chance at a better life. This is one of the many reasons why I continue working towards making affordable and structured corporate education a reality.

We are aiming to upskill 60-65% of first-generation professionals for a future in tech, and I believe this is achievable, especially working together with the Salesforce Academic Alliance. I am honored to be a part of such a transition in the education and employment sector.

Bhaskar Gandhavadi has over 30 years of experience in the Indian IT Training & Education Industry. He recently moved from the IT industry to work with TASK to improve the employability quotient of students graduating from Telangana state.

If you've been inspired by the work Bhaskar is doing with TASK, learn more about how you, too, could benefit from the Salesforce Academic Alliance program.

7 Tips for Less Stress in Your Next Job Interview

If you want to grow your career, you're going to face the not-so-enjoyable hurdle of job interviewing.

According to Katie Smith, CEO of career development firm Careerable, people rank job interviews near getting a cavity filled, in terms of stress level.

Getting a cavity filled = miserable.

Getting a new job = awesome.

So how can you reduce stress and anxiety, nail the entire process from phone to in-person, and get a great offer for your next gig? Check out these 7 tried-and-true tips. Hopefully they'll help make your job interview process more effective — and less like a trip to the dentist's office.

These tips are from today's brand-new episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, our weekly educational podcast to help you grow your career. Listen in for a deeper guide to job interview success, and then subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play MusicStitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

BONUS: Today marks the start of a brand new format for the podcast! Last week we said goodbye to Joel, and I'm now talking with multiple guests per episode in a segment-based style, to give you even more inspiration and help. Check it out and let me know what you think (@youngheike).

 

1. Ask who's going to be in the room.

 

First off, you'll reduce tons of your stress if you know exactly who's going to be there with you, asking you questions and shaking your hand. As soon as the interview is scheduled, get a list of names, and do a little research on what each one does at the company so you can ask smarter questions and have more context for the conversation.

Kyle Lacy of Lessonly, who's been a hiring manager for numerous marketing roles, explains: "Probably 8 of the 150 people I've interviewed has every asked me who they're going to be in the room with, which is mind-blowing to me. Then you don't understand who you're meeting with. Once you understand that, it's much easier to sell yourself, and it's much easier to communicate with people."

 

2. Prep your greatest stories in advance.

 

It's hard to think of amazing stories on the fly. So think ahead and prepare your most impactful stories of on-the-job success. What kind of stories, you might ask?

"Write down eight to 10 stories that sum up your experience. People are so much more natural when they're in storytelling mode Think about CAR: challenge, action, result. What was the challenge that the business was facing? What was the action you specifically took? What was the result of it?" That's Katie's advice.

Try telling these stories to friends and family in a practice session so you're even more natural. You'll feel confident and ready to showcase your most awesome successes when you walk in the door.

 

3. Listen — and don't be afraid of silence.

 

When you're nervous, the tendency is to fill up any available space in the conversation with more words. This makes you sound more nervous, and you may end up saying something that doesn't really have a point. Give yourself a break (and lessen anxiety!) by reminding yourself continuously that it's okay for there to be a bit of silence, and you should listen, above all else.

Amy Higgins, who's a rockstar marketer at TopRank Marketing, explains that this is something she's learned throughout the course of her career. "Back then, I did a lot more of the talking and less of the listening. I was always felt pressured to say the correct thing, and so that pressure would equal me continually talking, and I never stopped. Now, I would say I only do about 20% of the talking."

 

4. Create a list of actually useful questions.

 

Folks interviewing for a job typically know that they're supposed to ask questions, too (not only answer them). Unfortunately, a lot of interviewers ask surface-level questions that don't add much, if anything, to the conversation.

To reduce stress, you can prepare these in advance and bring them with you to the interview.

Kyle explains, “Any question that you could have figured out by doing a little bit of research is a bad question. For example, 'Tell me what your company does.' Or, 'Tell me about your role as the marketing leader at X.' Those are very high-level questions. A better question would be, 'How do you deal with the constant change at a fast growing software company, especially the marketing department?' There's a huge difference between something that people can elaborate on, and something that's very boilerplate.”

 

5. Don't bring unnecessary stuff with you.

 

It's stressful enough just being in a room where people are deciding your future. You don't want an armload of jackets, bags, hardcopy resumes, technology, a coffee cup, and who knows what else holding you back.

Avoid bringing way too much stuff with you to your next job interview, so you can easily move about the office and shake hands with whoever comes your way. (And don't forget the firm handshake, too!)

 

6. Get your elevator pitch down to a science.

 

No matter what kind of role you're interviewing for — from an internship to the C-suite — the first question you're likely to get is, "Tell me about yourself." You should have a short, snappy, intriguing elevator pitch for yourself prepared. It should highlight your key abilities and successes while leaving plenty of room for them to ask you for more detail. (Talking for 5 minutes at this point without stopping isn't going to engage the person listening to you.)

As with your stories (see #2), you should practice this with friends so the words flow effortlessly. They can also give you feedback on the parts that are most interesting or could be skipped.

 

7. Know a fun fact about every person you interview with.

 

It's terrifying to walk into a room with strangers who have power over your future salary, responsibilities, and, basically, life. They're also on edge because bringing someone new into the fold may or may not work for them. So put these people at ease by knowing at least one fun fact about every person you talk with during your interview.

Kyle says one recent applicant did this at Lessonly and made a big impression: "He had researched personal and professional information about every single team member. He remembered everything. When a team member walked into the room for a one on one, he knew where they were from, he asked them specific questions about hobbies. It wasn't creepy, it was high level like, 'Oh, I saw that you have an Instagram account, and you have a boat." The team felt like they knew him after the first meeting."

This is an easy way to endear people to you right off the bat, and it doesn't take much work in today's social media age. Simply knowing one fun fact about the people you talk to will put them at ease — and reduce your own stress, knowing you have one enjoyable thing to talk about with every person. 

Finding common ground is a brilliant way to make interviewing with someone actually enjoyable instead of comparable to getting a cavity filled.

 

New Today: A Brand New Podcast Style

 

If you've ever listened to the Marketing Cloudcast before, you'll notice a big difference this week. We've shifted to an entirely new format and style (think narrative with multiple guests — more Freakonomics, less live interview), and I'd love to know what you think! 

Join the thousands of smart marketers who are Cloducast subscribers on Apple PodcastsOvercastGoogle Play Music, and Stitcher.

Tweet @youngheike with feedback on this episode — or ideas for future guests and topics.

4 Ways Great Sales Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

As a VP of Sales here at Salesforce, I've always wanted my legacy to be that my teams believe that they did the best work of their careers when they worked for me. I want to be the leader who inspires people to grow and to challenge themselves and others. I want to be the one to propel them to success.

Like a typical leader, I once believed that I could be great simply by knowing how to do the sales job and passing that knowledge on.  While I still believe that "leading the way" is certainly important, it doesn't cover everything a good sales manager needs to achieve. I've learned that there’s a science to attracting the best possible candidates and getting the most out of them.  While many leaders believe that their role is one of "command and control," the truth is that this strategy does not get the best out of people. Typically, teams find that this type of leader drains their energy, confidence, and sometimes even their desire to perform in the role.

I found the best distillation of advice in a book called Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Multiplier's taught me how to empower my employees, challenging them to push out of their comfort zones. I learned that a great leader needs to create the right type of environment within every interaction so that people can formulate their own points of view and hone their decision-making skills. Rather than solve problems for our people, we need to build an environment where they learn to trust their own abilities, resource their own challenges, and be a part of the decision-making team. Here are a few tips learned on the front lines on how to do that.

1. Build careers, not empires

The first lesson I learned is that it's important to get comfortable with building careers, not empires. Many new managers get greedy with talent when they find it, stunting careers in hopes of keeping top performers on their teams longer in the hopes of building their own success. Great managers should get comfortable with pushing their people to grow and then promoting them as soon as they are ready. While the short-term pain of losing an AE is tough, your reputation as a career advancing leader will draw the new freshman class to you.  

Additionally, what I've found is that many people that I have invested in and promoted have come back to work for me time and time again throughout the course of their careers. I've hired and “promoted out” AEs who have returned years later to become strong leaders, and AEs who have asked to be on my new teams when I moved into new, more senior roles. It’s a strategy that pays dividends in the long term!

2. Create safe spaces

Secondly, I learned that people do their best work when you create a safe space for them to perform at their best, rather than cultivating a culture of fear where they’re afraid to make mistakes. I've learned that giving people ideas but letting them make their own decisions is key to building confidence and skills. Listening and asking questions is more powerful than directing someone, even when I believe I have the right answer. Giving them the answer just means they come to depend on others, and not themselves. There is no growth in that, and believe me, as a management tactic, it definitely doesn't scale. Plus, I learn so much about my people when I ask questions. I learn how they think, how they approach problems, and what their strengths are.

3. Emphasize execution vs. results

Third, I've learned how powerful it is to distinguish someone's work from the outcomes. Especially in sales, we are all about the final outcome: annual contract value (ACV).  While "ACV is king," measuring only ACV does not develop the skills and long-term success of your team. I try to be a leader who holds people accountable for their execution versus just their results. For example, many sales leaders withhold any positive feedback about a person's work until they determine whether they succeeded or not (i.e. closed the sale). But it is possible to do the right things and get the wrong results — and vice versa. The best way to scale our teams and get the most out of our people is to reinforce the right behaviors, regardless of the outcome.

For example, one of the best run mutual plans I've seen recently was on a deal that we did not win. We learned hard lessons in other areas of execution, but the fact remained that the AE executed at the highest level in this area. His skills of driving the deal would serve him well in future deals, and therefore I made sure he understood what he did right in the cycle.  We have all had the boss who shamed us for our entire effort when we lost a deal, which only crushes confidence and throws out the positive lessons learned. I don't want to be that kind of leader, and I know from experience that it doesn’t foster long-term success.

4. Drop your ego at the door

Lastly, I've (hopefully) learned not to be a know-it-all. Being directive (i.e. I know what to do, so do what I say) is not scalable, doesn't empower people, and frankly, it's exhausting. Drop your ego at door, forget trying to look like you're the smartest person in the room, and give people the opportunity to discover for themselves the optimal path to the best outcomes. You definitely should freely give people a starting point; your experience is valuable. But then ask hard questions, challenge them to think it through themselves, weigh in on their thought process, challenge further, and then watch what happens. Just today, an AE told me he had hit a dead-end.  While I knew the answer, I didn't give it to him. I shared what I had done in a similar account and challenged him to find a way to develop a stronger, deeper perspective on his customer. Only an hour later, this AE had built a plan unlike any he had ever created before. He came over to high five me, proud of his work.  If I had to bet, I believe he is going to run that play over and over in his career and benefit immensely from it.  

The job of sales manager can be a daunting one, but one that can inspire you on a daily basis if your teams are learning, growing, and experiencing success. If you’re interested in more practical advice on how to make your team smarter and more successful, check out our eBook, “Sales experts answer your toughest sales management questions.”

What’s Your 118? – How to Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

We’ve all attended numerous networking events, conferences and even social events where we look to make connections that can help us further expand our business goals and bottom lines. Pleasantries and business cards are exchanged and then comes the usual, ‘what do you do?’

Such a simple question, yet one powerful enough to sink your battleship. If you’re not ready to answer this question in 118 seconds or less, chances are you won’t be making many meaningful connections. Let’s start with the basics, what is an elevator pitch? It’s a brief, persuasive speech that you use to generate interest for your business, your organization, or what you do. It’s also helpful when looking to generate support for a project or idea. 

In my last book, Think Big, Act Bigger, I mention elevator pitches in one of the chapters. Many entrepreneurs, business owners, and even salespeople have a hard time condensing who they are or what they do into 118 seconds. So, what does ‘118’ mean? It is the number of seconds you actually have to pitch yourself or your company – eight seconds to hook people and 110 seconds to reel them in. Those first eight seconds is where you lean in and hook them with your story. The next 110 seconds, or maybe less, is the time you have to drive the message home, with no bull. 

So, when is a good time to use an elevator pitch?

The answer is any time you want to introduce your organization to potential clients or customers. It can even be used internally if you’re looking to convince a manager to implement a new process to streamline the organization or workloads or pitch them a new idea that would help the company move ahead of a competitor.

Now that we have the basics established, I asked a couple of sales and business experts for their best elevator pitch tips. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind:

Tip 1:

Jeff Winsper, President, Black Ink Technologies   

“If you can’t say it in 5 seconds, take the escalator.” 

Tip 2:

Jason Forrest, CEO and Head Sales Coach, FPG

Do: “Tell me what you can do for me, not what you do.”

Don’t: “Don’t be needy. Act like you want their business, but don’t need their business”

Tip 3:

Evan Hackel, CEO –Founder/Principal, Ingage Consulting

“Speak softly, but carry a big message. Trying to bowl anyone over with the sheer force of your energy can only backfire.” 

Tip 4:

Matthew Hammer, Marketing Director – LiveWorld

a. “Drop the buzzwords and keep it short.”

b. “It’s got to be a conversation, not a pitch.”

c. “Use an emotional benefit statement” 

Tip 5:

Jeffrey Levin, Executive Vice President of Sales – Great Eastern Energy

a. “Brevity is key, keeping the pitch to a maximum of 30 seconds. Ideally, will include a call to action and compel the customer to ask questions or request more information.”

b. “It’s important to be succinct and clear, and ensure it’s a topic that related directly to a topical issue.”

There are other things that need to be considered in order to have a quality elevator pitch.

Identify your goal 

Before you open your mouth to tout the virtues of your company or product, or talk about how many awards you have under your belt, you have to know what the purpose of your elevator pitch is. Is it to bring in new clients? To ‘sell’ your product or services? Once you identify the goal, start drafting your pitch.

Keep it short

This can’t be stressed enough. There’s a reason it’s called an elevator pitch – it’s meant to be short, the length of an elevator ride. I mentioned before your ‘118,’ and while there’s no specific number of words to craft the perfect elevator pitch, everyone is in full agreement, it’s got to be brief. 

Explain what you do 

For an elevator pitch to be successful, you focus on the problems you can solve for someone else and what pain points you can help alleviate.  If you can, add a key statistic that would strengthen your point.

Also, figure out a way to have your audience remember you. Whether you’re the guy with a funky tie or the guy who doesn’t use any type of crutch when talking about their product or service, your elevator pitch will be a great complement to your expertise. Show your excitement so that it’s palpable to the other party. If it doesn’t excite you, how will you get someone else excited? Excitement is infectious.

Practice makes perfect

Practice, practice, practice! It can be a daunting task to have to fit in a lot of information into seconds. What it takes a marketing team hours or days to put together, it needs to take you seconds. 

Practice it in front of a mirror. Practice it on your wife or husband. Heck, practice it on your dog, if you want. The point of this exercise is for you to get comfortable with your pitch so when it comes naturally and conversationally, not as a rehearsed pitch. 

No one likes to feel like they’re being pitched to, so don’t just practice your words, but your inflection, too. If you’re a fast speaker, slow it down. If you’re too verbose, bring it down a notch. Your body language will be just as important as your words. Keep your hands at your sides and avoid overt gesticulations. Those can be a turn off for many and makes you seem aggressive.

You may think talking to yourself in the mirror sounds a bit ridiculous, but trust me when I tell you, you’ll think it’s less painful than face planting in front of a potential client, or investor, because you didn’t practice your pitch.

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Jeffrey Hayzlett is the primetime television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives LIVE on C-Suite TV and is the host of the award-winning All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on C-Suite Radio. Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, Hall of Fame speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most trusted network of C-Suite leaders.