Phil Jackson, who rode the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan to six championships, would tell his championship-caliber team, "You can't control the outcome of the game, you can only control your effort."
Zen-like and true, but he may have left out one key word -- "concentrated" effort. Let's see Michael Jordan drain a three with a BlackBerry in his hand. I wonder how effective Dennis Rodman would have been securing rebounds while reading emails. Could Scotty Pippin drive to the hoop while talking hands-free on his cell phone?
Effort is the only thing we can control. It feels like we are giving it our all, but we may not be winning any championships because the concentration of our effort has been greatly diluted. We don't read anymore, we glance. We don't complete tasks; we jump from one to the other. We don't engage those we speak to with 100% of our attention, like we used to before all of this communication in its various forms seeped into our daily lives.
This communication collision taking place on our screens and in our hands is robbing us of the concentrated effort required to be great at our jobs. One step that would aid in improving your concentrated effort is dropping your friends (personal and business) and family from any weekday communication by getting a second phone and/or handheld device and only giving that new contact data to clients. This move, as dramatic as it reads, will work wonders, creating more time to allocate to purely business-centric tasks. And for those new to this game or those who don't mind a reminder, here are a few tasks you should be accomplishing on a daily basis if you sell media.
1. Update your account contacts daily. Every day, you should be hunting and gathering more names of people who influence the accounts you call on. I would add copywriters to the list -- no one calls on them, and they create the communications you are trying to land. Make your additions to at least three accounts a day and by the end of the week, you will have a much larger pool to swim in.
2. Physically visit an ad agency every day. Leaving the office is so important. It keeps you in a sales groove. On the days you don't have a scheduled meeting, drop off a note, your magazine, or a print-out of a story from your Web site -- anything that is both relevant and meaningful for a person you are trying to meet or influence. Your effort will be recognized, and you will invariably bump into other buyers you need to know better.
3. Read with a purpose. Read your property (both online and offline) as if you wrote it, along with that of your biggest competitor. Dig in and read again like you used to before everything got so fast and furious. Key facts and points of differentiation will become much more evident when you commit to reading like you mean it -- which will, in turn, make it easier for you to be great at developing that essential connection between your property and the communication goals of a potential client.
This is not a game, it's your livelihood -- and it's not a question of improving your efforts, it's a question of doing so faster than those you compete with. Incorporate these three tasks into your daily routine and see how great you feel about the job you are doing. Others will take notice of your effort.