It was June 2012 in Cleveland and after the event we all went to the racetrack with Dan Kennedy. While everyone was having fun, I found a quiet moment with Dan and asked him:
"Dan, in your book on Time Management; you are talking about some EXTREME control measure on access to your time. This is easy for YOU, because you are Dan Kennedy. For a small, emerging business trying to drum up business, I need to make myself available when a prospect wants to talk to me. Exactly how do you suppose I apply the principles of time management in your book? I am exactly opposite of what you are recommending. I respond to email within minutes, I am almost always available to take a call from prospects and client 8AM to 10PM 7 days a week and my clients sincerely appreciate such availability.I think I fundamentally disagree with most of the principles and I frankly resent it when someone pulls one of those techniques on me. When I want to speak to a vendor, I want them to answer the damn phone. I think your book turned a whole bunch of people in to inconsiderate jerks."
Dan listened to me and since I was speaking with such passion, a small crowd gathered around us. Some of them gasped and everyone eagerly waited for Dan's response.
Dan Spoke: "Parthiv, you can do whatever you want to do. It's your life and these are your clients. Your time and your relationships are yours to run and manage. I don't judge. I just want to tell you what will happen to you and your clients if you follow my advice in the book.
Yes, you can't call me on my cell phone at 8PM. You have to contact Vickie, book a time slot and fax me a letter telling me why you want to speak to me so I am prepared for you. When you call me at the designated time, I will be there, waiting JUST for you, with your folder in front of me, notes in hand and my mind completely focused on your business. Now, tell me, do you really concentrate and focus on your customer and know everything there is to know about their business when they call you out of the blue and you are in the middle of doing something with your family or working with another client? Are they really getting the whole you when they get you? Does ANYONE get the whole you?
What do you want to be Parthiv? A successful businessman or a juggler? If you are a really good juggler, you will be a good clown at the circus. But if you want to win, if you want to be successful and if you want to be a better you, give your customers a better you. Do ONE thing at a time and do it well."
I did not want to argue with Dan but I took his suggestion as an impractical, inappropriate idea for my business. I got the justification for why he does it, why he recommends it and why people follow the formula, but I was convinced that 'this is not for me'.
And I did my thing. I focused on my customers and business grew. There were more customers who wanted more of me. They wanted more of me NOW. My family pretty much wrote me off. I worked and worked and worked. I earned the title of 'highest working man in marketing'. My son learned to ask me if I was busy before sitting down to talk to me. No one faltered me for working hard because I was doing what I knew how to do. Work hard, make ends meet, be a good provider for the family.
And then it started to break apart. Business could not grow any more. I was overwhelmed. Customers were disappointed because they are not getting more of me now. Customers were disappointed that I did not have my 'act together'. People asked me if I was 'OK'.
One day, I was speaking to Dr. Tom Orent working on a project and he said 'you don't sound good Parthiv. What's up?' "Dr. Orent, I have been working too hard, too long and I am just tired. How should I cope with this?"
"Stop working at a decent time Parthiv. Make a rule that you will not work over 16 hours in a day. You need adequate amount of rest, otherwise you are killing yourself and you are doing a half-ass job. Make it a habit to just stop working at a reasonable time; say 10PM. Trust me, there is always tomorrow. You are losing and I am not winning either. Call me when you wake up."
In 2014, One of those guys who were at the Cleveland event in 2012, James Lange asked me how things were; and I shared that I was overwhelmed and I was unhappy with myself.
"Consider doing what Dan told you to do Parthiv. I think you will like the new life". Suggested Mr. Lange.
I went to my coach at that time, Dr. Charlie Martin and asked him what to do.
"Parthiv, if I called you and if you did not answer or if I got your voicemail, I would not be offended. I just want you to call me back with a thorough and thoughtful answer. I just want to know when you will get back to me."
"What if it was an emergency, Dr. Martin" I asked. "If it was a real emergency Parthiv, I will hang up and call 911. I am sure they would know what to do. Why would I call you in an emergency? You do marketing".
So, I made some changes. I was scared out of my mind.
I created an Infusionsoft campaign, a landing page on my website (www.elaunchers.com/mindmap) where people can go 24x7 and schedule an appointment with me and I even created a special page just for clients (www.elaunchers.com/client) where my paying clients can go and schedule an appointment. I made time slots available during evenings and weekends.
I deployed an application called 'AutomationCore' that connected all my calendars, all my devices, my outlook and my Infusionsoft calendar in one online synchronized system so when someone clicked on my link to schedule an appointment it instantly and automatically updates ALL my devices. (I have about a dozen devices and four humans tracking my moves.)
Another thing I started doing is adding a 'buffer' so I would get a ding 10 minutes prior to the appointment so I can start preparing. I would login to the meeting room two minutes prior to the designated time. The Infusionsoft system automatically sends an email to the client 15 minute prior saying I started preparing for our call and I am looking forward to talking to them. The system even sends them an email the night before saying 'prepping for tomorrow, please click here to answer a few questions so I am ready for our call'.
In 2017 when we deployed HUBSPOT for website, blog and landing pages, the native meeting management tool gave us enhanced functionality and a 'new and improved' experience for scheduled meetings.
If you are not using Infusionsoft or hubspot, you can use free or almost free tools like VCita or Calendly.com. The moral of the story is, it does not matter what technology you use to be 'virtually available 24x7' while still exercising tight control over your time.
One thing I took from the book to heart was 'punctuality'. When you show up on time or before and the other person does not, you do have an upper hand. What I learned is that an appointment is a contract and when you are late you are in violation of the contract and when you do that it shatters trust, destroys your credibility and you have to 'spin' to get back on track. On the other hand, when you are on time or slightly early, everyone is calm, there is an establishment of trust, respect and peace which becomes excellent environment to have a conversation.
Another thing I established in my life is a per-determined 'end time'. I am looking at the clock every 2-3 minutes to make sure I have enough time to cover everything I want to cover, periodically check with the client how we are doing on time and when I am about 3/4 of the way through the allocated time, I ask the client 'what is your schedule like, in case we go over?' This is a gentle reminder that we are approaching the finish line and we need to either start winding up or schedule another call. I found it better to ask about their clock and not boast about my clock… but it yields the same result.
People still call me on my cell and text me. My voice mail says 'I check my voice mail once a week. Please leave a message. If this is urgent, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a text. Multiple people are watching my emails and texts and you will get a response within a very short time from me or one of my team members.
I have mechanism to have my text messages go to my email and someone responds to them. Now I can integrate my text messages in to Hubspot for a unified communications hub.
I get several thousand emails a month. My team reads them constantly and flag them for 'Parthiv Please Read' and 'Parthiv Please Respond'. My clients know the ritual so when they have something important, they actually put 'Parthiv Please Read' or 'Parthiv Please Respond' in the subject line when they are looking for an email from me.
The fact that they can go to www.elaunchers.com/mindmap or www.elaunchers.com/client and grab the next available slot gives them 'instant access' without actually accessing me instantly. I think this was a very good compromise where I was able to implement Dan's suggestions without stepping outside my comfort zone.
My family and friends soon adjusted. My brother was offended when I was not available so we made a deal. Now, when he calls, I put whoever I am speaking to on hold and say 'can you hold please, I need to speak to my brother'.
My wife likes the new me. I actually come home when they are expecting. She does not call me at 930PM to say "Paaaarthiv, come home RIGHT NOW." My son appreciates the new me.
The clients are actually happier. Now, when they get me, the get the WHOLE me. They know that I am prepared for the call, I have nothing else is going on in my life and the project on hand is the ONLY thing that matters to in this moment. We are able to get a lot done in a short period of time when nothing else matters.
I have studied the concepts of 'Deep Work' by author Cal Newport. It is teaching me how to focus. I have added implementation of 'Deep Work' in the life of everyone at my company a Tactical Operational Priority (TOP) for 2017.
Life is good! Now I make money on my terms and make time for what matters most.
This is the true American dream. You do what you want to do, when you want to do it and with whomever you want to do it.