Posts

Business Travels in Chicago? Here’s How You Can *Gasp* Enjoy Your Trip

architecture 1853632 1920

For those who love traveling, business trips are another welcomed opportunity to stay in a luxury apartment in a new town, bask in the culture, and try new cuisine. For others, traveling for business is somewhat of an inconvenience, usually because of commitments at home, such as family, friends, and pets and being taken away from their usual routine. However, there are ways to navigate around this.

For a few tips to help ease you into your new life in Chicago, look no further.

Choose The Perfect Place To Stay

Where you choose to stay in Chicago makes a big difference in how much you enjoy your trip, and that’s why it’s essential to pick the right place to stay. If you’re staying for a few nights, you might think that a hotel is your best and only option. However, if you need to stay in Chicago for a couple of weeks or months, booking a fully-furnished and serviced apartment will be a better option for you. You can find a range of apartment sizes and styles to rent that are available for a minimum of a month-long contract across most areas of Chicago, from the South Loop to the Old Town area.

living room 2155353 1920

The longer you need to stay in Chicago, the more essential it is to find a temporary home that you’ll love. For instance, having a fully equipped apartment with all the mod cons you’ll need will provide a much more comfortable setting for you to adjust to being away from home. Renting an apartment, rather than staying in a hotel on your trip also makes it easier for you to invite your family to come and visit or stay with you too.

Pre-Plan How To Get Around

Part of having a relaxed trip to Chicago is figuring out how you will get around the city. Whether meeting with clients, traveling to an office, or running daily errands. There is no one size fits all transport option. Some people prefer the environmentally friendly benefit of using a bike. Others like the hustle and bustle and the fast and cost-effective choice of using the Chicago Transit Authority buses and the ‘L’. While some prefer the scenic route via water taxi, others like to hire a vehicle to get around.

Choosing solutions ahead of your stay will save you a lot of hassle. How you decide to travel is a matter of preference, but it’s worth checking out the routes on Google Maps or Waze to figure out getting to and from your accommodation and workplace. Also, don’t forget to set up a backup travel solution in case there are delays with the first transport you choose.

Set Up A Routine

A handy tip that works well for those traveling away for business is to create a new routine. At home, you already have a routine, meaning you don’t have to waste time and energy thinking about what you need to do. From getting in the shower to ironing your clothes, feeding the dog, making your lunch, and so on, there are specific things you do each day.

To help you enjoy your trip and get your life in order, create a sense of stability and comfort while you’re away in Chicago. Other factors, such as finding the closest supermarket, drug store, and doctor’s office is also helpful ahead of your stay.

Socializing

It’s a good idea for you to make plans to meet with people while you’re in a new place. Whether that means reaching out to work colleagues or contacting friends/family that live in Chicago to meet up. You may even want to plan a few exciting excursions to some of Chicago’s attractions. For instance, Millenium park, the Museum of Science and Industry, or take a Chicago crime tour. By making an effort to be social and connect with people during your trip, and by taking a break and having some fun, you’ll feel happier, more content and even more productive!

Enjoying your business travels to Chicago definitely takes planning. It’s natural to feel a bit stressed when you’re away from home, but if you sort out the best accommodation that truly makes you feel at home, preplan your transport routes and develop a routine, you’ll quickly settle in with ease and enjoy your stay.

What Does Your Email Reveal About Your Leadership Style?

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Fewer, Faster, Better Emails | What Does Your Email Reveal About Your Leadership Style?“I don’t know that there’s necessarily a correlation between leadership style and their email writing. I’ve never researched that specific connection.”

“Understood,” my CEO client responded. “Just review what my admin sends you and give me a one-page opinion on each of the four VPs. That’s all I ask.”

This conversation happened early in my career, and frankly, I feared that I might disappoint him in not being able to draw conclusions.

Within a few days, the CEO’s bundle of emails arrived, basically restating what he’d said on the phone. His executive assistant had collected emails from four of his VPs. Specifically, the emails were representative of those the four VPs had sent to 1) peers 2) their direct reports and 3) those higher-ups in the chain (the CEO himself or EVPs).

My mission: To describe their leadership style and general attitudes about their work as reflected in their emails. So I pushed through the pile of VP documents carefully labeled by his assistant.

After submitting my one-page opinions on each, the CEO phoned again. “You’ve pegged them exactly! … Now, I want you to meet with them one on one to debrief them. Tell them what’s apparent in their writing. Give them the details about what you found. See what they might want to change.”

The first three meetings went well. The VPs seemed quite shocked that their writing revealed so much about their personalities, attitudes, and leadership style. But basically, they agreed with my evaluations and the emails discussed as examples.

But the fourth meeting (scheduled last because I dreaded it) didn’t go so smoothly. As I suspected, the SVP reacted quite differently. Mac listened in almost total silence as I delivered my conclusions.

As tactfully as possible, I pointed out that his emails to the executive team sounded friendly, but vague and cavalier. On the other hand, emails to his staff sounded indifferent at best and harsh and dictatorial at worst.

His general response that day: “Not interested in making changes.”

A few months later, I learned that Mac was no longer with the organization. Although I don’t know all that contributed to his termination, I do know that his writing did not add to his credibility, influence, or results with clients, coworkers, or higher-ups.

4 Ways Your Leadership Style Is on Display in Your Email

What can you apply to your own situation?

Unwillingness to Share Reasoning

When Mac presented a recommendation to higher-ups, he supported it with data or at least his reasoning. Not so, with staff. With them, he simply announced his decisions and expected compliance.

An Attempt to Bluff

When answering questions from higher executives about projects, budgets, or problems, Mac often responded with sketchy details. The tone was, “All is well, just trust me, and don’t probe.” A reader easily got the feeling that Mac took offense if the boss asked about any skeletons in the closet.

No Requests for Input

Mac wrote to his staff almost entirely in directives. He requested no opinions or ideas from them. When he informed them of a decision and upcoming action, the tone was, “Make it happen and don’t bother me with questions.” The difference between Mac and a mafia boss? Mac dealt in mortgages. Mafia bosses deal in murder and other mayhem.

Lack of Personal Accountability

Even though I analyzed more than a hundred of Mac’s emails, none contained an “accountability” statement – not even close.

  • No statements of goals (specific goals would have set him up to explain any shortfall)
  • No acknowledgement or apology for a mistake or misunderstanding
  • No ownership for poor outcomes – his or those related to his team’s performance
  • No feedback or praise to his team or colleagues

Granted, Mac didn’t send his entire email stash for the CEO’s evaluation. But reason would suggest that he’d sent his best – a collection aptly reflecting his leadership style.
Just as Mac’s writing did, your email can alter the trajectory of your career. Leaders master strategies to improve what they say, how they say it, and what NOT to say in email. And in my three decades of experience, I’ve observed that clear communicators become leaders in every industry.

Find out what secrets your own emails reveal about your leadership.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Dianna BooherDianna Booher’s latest books include Faster, Fewer, Better Emails; Communicate Like a Leader; What MORE Can I Say?; and Creating Personal Presence. She’s the bestselling author of 48 books, published in 61 foreign editions. Dianna helps organizations communicate clearly and leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence.

Tips For A Successful Conference

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article | Conference Room | Tips For A Successful ConferenceIf organisation is not your strong point then planning a conference can be particularly tricky. You need to start off with a vision and then carefully implement steps along the way in order to reap success. The trouble is that a lot of people don’t know where to start and they struggle with direction. If only you had a step by step guide that could see you through. Well, now you do! Read on to make your conference planning a lot easier.

What is your vision?

First of all, you need to be clear about your vision. What is the purpose of your conference? What is the message you are trying to convey? Never ever lose sight of this. Every part of the organisation needs to be central to your main goal. When you find a venue for example, you need to think; is this the perfect place for a conference on *subject A*, rather than is the venue fancy and stylish. Develop your purpose into a vision – how many people do you want to reach? When do you want this conference to take place? And so on and so forth. You cannot plan anything effectively without set targets in mind.

The budget

So you have your targets, but do you have the budget? In truth; as long as your aims aren’t ridiculously unrealistic, then any target can be met. In the current day and age it is all about searching, comparing, and hunting down the best deals. But set a budget in mind nonetheless – this is crucial. Then roughly estimate how much money is going to be dedicated to what areas. You’ll need to do your research in order to find figures for the average price range of things, such as; venue hire, equipment, and so on and so forth.

Purchasing process

You now have a clear focus; your goals and the means you have to achieve them. Now you need to begin the purchase process. Start with your venue. There are some great and diverse conference venues. You should search on the internet in order to unearth locations meeting the requirements you have set. Once you have got the venue and date sorted you can begin with invitations, equipment hire, and other aspects you may need, such as catering.

Venue

When you search for the perfect venue for your conference, there are lots of factors you need to consider. You want to ensure that the venue you select is impressive. You want to ensure that the venue is fully equipped with everything you need and that you get to hire it for a reasonable price. Nevertheless, one thing you must consider, that has a knock-on impact on everything else, is where the venue is situated.

Before you even begin to look for a conference venue, you should make a list of all of those who are going to be invited to the occasion. Get yourself a map and write each person’s initials on the area they are based. This will help you to determine a central location that would be easy for all of your guests to get to. After all, you do not want to pick somewhere resulting in a long drive for your attendees. This may deter your guests from even making the journey – let’s be realistic; not everybody wants to drive for several hours for business.

In addition to this, don’t take for granted the fact that not everybody drives. You need to pick somewhere easily accessible via public transport. Most cities are generally good for this. Nevertheless, you should make sure that the venue is within walking distance from the nearest public transport drop off point. This is all about convenience. At the end of the day, if your guests have had to experience a long hike in order to get to your venue then they are going to turn up in a bad mood, and that is the last thing you want when trying to impress.

The day itself

All the initial plans and organisation have now been put into place. You can zoom in on the day itself now. This is all of the little particular points that you shouldn’t forget. Make sure your guests know where to go to when they get to the venue. Make sure you have refreshments on offer. Don’t forget to practise your presentation in front of other people. You can make powerful presentations using Beautiful.AI. Make sure you familiarise yourself with where the disabled access is. Visit the venue and visualise where you are going to set everything up. All these little aspects are underestimated but vital in the grand scheme of things.

If you use this guide then you are bound to have a smoother organisation of your conference. Outline your goal, set your budget, find conference venues, get your equipment, and then deal with the finishing touches.

The Best Ways to Prepare for Retirement

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article | The Best Ways to Prepare for RetirementRetirement can be daunting, especially when considering a pension at the start of your working life. However, with the right preparation, you can make retirement a simple and relaxing process, devoid of money worries and other concerns that you will want to leave behind in the working world.

Your Workplace’s Pension Scheme

Firstly, you should ensure that you auto-enroll in your companies’ pension scheme, where possible. Although it may be tempting to opt out and receive the extra money now, employers contribute 0.8% of their gross income into your pension scheme. In the long run, this means that you benefit extensively by waiting to reap the rewards of your hard work.

Your Home’s Equity

Many people would suggest that relying on your home’s equity in retirement is a good idea. However, although a popular way to gain extra money during retirement, there are both negatives and benefits to releasing your home’s equity for this purpose. Instead, it is best to save beforehand and ensure that you are already prepared for retirement by the time your working life is over.

Save Throughout Your Life

Although your quarter-life crisis may seem too soon to start saving for your distance future, the best way to prepare for retirement is to start saving as soon as possible. Whether this is your first pay-check or a little bit later, saving early can give you the best rates on compound interest which can drastically increase your retirement fund.

For instance, if you save £100 a month over 40 years rather than double that amount over 20, you can make almost £48,000 more in interest.

Prepare for a State Pension

Although state pensions may feel as if you are being paid back for your hard work, state pensions only provide you with £115 a week to live on, which can be difficult if you are paying rent and other bills alongside this. You may also have to wait longer than expected for this, with the age correlating to current life expectancy, which means that the boundaries are constantly changing. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have multiple funds to support you in your old age by starting an independent pension fund.

Check Your Pension’s Performance

Next, you should always check your pension’s performance to ensure that it is growing at the pace which you expect. Many pension schemes can change over time and affect the amount that you are putting away, and so ensuring that you track your pension’s performance over time is important to prepare for your retirement.

Compare the Best Annuities

The best annuities can often be found on the open market than through your current provider. Although many people rush into buying an annuity with their pension company, there are often 60% differences in annuity rates between the best and worst annuities available, meaning that it is important to look around for the best one.
For more pension advice, contact Portafina, or follow their social media on Portafina’s Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.

Disclaimer: The above information is not financial advice. For any financial decisions you need to make, please talk to a qualified financial advisor.

3 Most Common Leadership Mistakes and How to Avoid Them in 2019

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | 3 Most Common Leadership Mistakes and How to Avoid Them in 2019 | business leadershipIt is no news that being a leader requires quite a lot of perseverance and personal strength. For some people becoming a leader has been a meticulous decision and a result of many years of hard work, whereas some others might have got a leadership position without ever striving for it. The luck of the draw!

In both cases, the expectations are high and the stress is unavoidable. Not only should a leader outperform themselves and make sure all the objectives are met but they should also ensure their entire team feels happy and satisfied with work. Not an easy task to do!

Regardless of how many years of professional experience and personal training leaders possess, all of them tend to commit certain mistakes because they are all human beings. But what distinguishes a good leader from the rest is their ability to be able to recognize their mistakes and find solutions to avoid them when they get a second bite at the cherry.

For those leaders looking to improve their leadership qualities, we have compiled a list of 3 most common leadership mistakes and ways to avoid them in 2019.

Let’s take a closer look at each mistake.

#1. Not communicating the vision and the goals

Having a vision and setting clear goals is one thing, being able to communicate those to your employees is a completely different thing. Many leaders think that if they have a clear vision, that is more than enough for employees to succeed. While there is some truth to that, constantly communicating the vision and the goals is more than essential to guarantee a successful team work.

Leaders should remember that their employees have different personality types and they do not necessarily function in the same way. In order to ensure that the whole team is on the same page, leaders should remind them about the significance of the vision and how it translates into everyday tasks for each employee.

Sharing the vision, sticking to it and showing how every employee can contribute to that vision every day is key to creating a successful working environment based on common goals.

Top Tip: constant communication of the vision can be executed through monthly email reminders, oral reminders during meetings or via audiovisual support materials like TV screens around the office. Make sure every employee knows the vision and knows how to contribute to it.

#2. Poor delegating of tasks

Poor delegating of tasks is equally harmful as not delegating at all. Recent research has shown that leaders who skillfully delegate tasks achieve three-year growth rates that are 112% higher than those who don’t delegate at all or who do so poorly.

Delegating tasks will not only let a leader concentrate on more important tasks of strategic value to the company but will also empower employees because by doing even the smallest task employees feel like a valued member of a team, especially when those tasks correspond to their strengths.

Here is how to delegate tasks successfully:

  • Identify the tasks to delegate
  • Choose who to delegate the tasks to, based on their strengths
  • Be clear about the tasks to implement
  • Monitor progress and give continuous feedback for improvement
  • Be able to redelegate when something goes wrong
  • Show constant appreciation

It has been proven that employees who have a chance to use their strengths and character traits are on average 74% more engaged at work. Moreover, the mere fact of knowing each other’s strengths makes the team 12% more effective.

Top Tip: delegating tasks based on strength finder results will help leaders achieve maximum efficiency. Sharing each other’s strengths can be of huge help to team members who work together as well as for leaders who manage those teams.

#3. Failing to adjust to changes

In today’s ever-changing world the ability to adjust to changes is crucial to successful leadership: continuous tech developments, new customer relationship management practices, employee motivation roller-coasters, and much more.

One of the main differences between a leader and a manager is the aptitude to embrace change. Real leaders know that change leads to new ways of growth and accomplishment. While there is no perfect formula for managing change, the secret of succeeding is realizing that change is inevitable and that growth happens when things change.

Top Tip: learn to be flexible as a leader: listen to your employees, constantly follow the trends and keep an open eye on market developments. Remember to surround yourself with people who can complement you in areas where your strengths are not enough to help you with your weaknesses.

There is no special school for leadership that teaches how to be a true leader. It takes a lot of everyday practice and a great deal of flexibility to be able to adjust to people, places and different developments.

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
John Maxwell


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Anatoli ChernyaevAnatoli Chernyaev is a content marketing manager born in Armenia and currently residing in France. He writes about various topics such as self-awareness, positive thinking, personal development, and career advice.