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The Importance of Hitting Our Inner Reset Button

October 25th, 2014 · TedRubin

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Our brains process five times the information they did 20 years ago. Here’s how you can help your brain adapt to information overload, and remain creative and productive.

Here’s a question for you: How many of the following scenarios can you identify with?

  • I feel guilty when I’m not working.
  • I often pull all-nighters on projects but don’t get as far as I should on them.
  • I feel the need to prop up my idea-flow with caffeine.
  • I check my email even on my days off and during vacation.
  • Doing what I’m doing used to be fun—now it’s difficult to stay energized.
  • I’m less organized than I used to be and find myself procrastinating more.
  • I often wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety.
  • I pick up colds and flu very easily.

If it seems you’re busier than ever, yet struggle with productivity—and one or more of the above scenarios sounds awfully familiar—you’re not alone. Today we’re more plugged in than ever before in history, and we’re paying a price—mental, emotional and physical burnout.

Balancing Act

We have more difficulty staying focused. We have trouble disengaging from work. We experience more stress-related health problems. In an INSEAD research paper,“Doing Nothing and Nothing to Do: The Hidden Value of Empty Time and Boredom,”author Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries writes: “The ability to balance activity and solitude, noise and quietness, is an excellent means to tap our inner creative resources. The secret of truly successful, creative people may well be that they learned very early in life how not to be busy.”

Does this mean you should chuck work and “Zen” your way to success? Of course not. But there’s a critical balance that seems to be missing from our lives, especially if we have a tendency to be workaholics.

Information Overload

Every day, we take in about 174 newspapers’ worth of information (five times as much as we did 20 years ago), and watch an average of five hours of TV. That’s a lot to process, and our brains have a hard time taking it all in. On top of that, thanks to our plugged-in lifestyle, we take less true vacation time and work more hours—neither of which helps us be more productive.

I read an interesting article in The New York Times Sunday Review recently called“Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain.” The article was written by Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, which explains that the human brain has evolved into two separate “attention” systems that help us sift through information and sort it into two areas: the task-positive and task-negative networks.

The task-positive network is active when you’re focused on a specific task and engaged in it without distraction. The task-negative network, on the other hand, is active when your mind is wandering or daydreaming. That’s where inspiration and creativity come from. Then there’s a third component, an attention filter, which acts like a switch between the task-positive and task-negative networks. The filter helps orient us and tells us what to pay attention and what to ignore in any given moment.

Over the years, we’ve developed shorter attention spans because we’re constantly being bombarded by incoming information, which, in effect, activates that switch. So if you’re constantly getting notifications for email, Facebook, Twitter, etc., you’re constantly see-sawing back and forth too often between what’s critical and what’s not.

Deliberate Immersion

Levitin suggests we need to lay off that switch by segmenting our daily activities into time slots and immersing ourselves in a single task for a sustained period, like 30 to 50 minutes without distractions. The same goes for immersing ourselves in task-negative activities like exercise, walking in the woods or listening to music, which all help trigger the mind-wandering, daydreaming mode that leads to creativity and resets our brain to provide perspective on what we’re doing.

Chances are, you’ll have to train yourself to do this; however, regular bouts of downtime where you’re not constantly plugged into task-positive activities is not only good for the brain, it’s good for your body, too. The same can be said for taking real vacations (not working during your holidays). I know that taking frequent breaks and putting myself in the moment when I’m on a holiday really helps me focus and also creates a more positive frame of mind when I’m back at work.

The human brain is a marvel of creation. When we treat it right and stop abusing it, wonderful things can happen. If we all hit our “reset” button more deliberately and more often, just think of what we could accomplish together.

Photo: Getty Images

Originally posted OCTOBER 3, 2014 American Express OPEN Forum




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So what does it take to get the Small Business involved in Social Media?

October 24th, 2014 · TedRubin

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Well, extra time (possibly the biggest barrier), money (but really not much) and people. With social media being so time intensive, and best results coming from directly being involved, the barriers to entry get higher as a business gets smaller, but not insurmountable for those willing to put in the time, especially since it can be done at all hours, and some of the most effective times to connect via social media are very early in the morning and very late at night. [Read more →]


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How Crazy Socks Became the Key…

October 22nd, 2014 · TedRubin

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If you’re struggling with how to build your personal brand online, you may find inspiration in this expert’s branding story.

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Without Context, Influence Falls Flat ~via @InsideCXM

October 21st, 2014 · TedRubin


When you’re looking for social influencers in your niche to connect with and engage, where do you start? Most people make a beeline for the flashy, neon lights of the follower count. While that mayseem a logical place to start, it’s really a flawed metric. [Read more →]


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Customer Experience Q & A with @SDL

October 20th, 2014 · TedRubin


What excites you about customer experience?

It is not customer experience that excites me, it is the customer herself who excites me, and the relationship that will develop and lead to trust and loyalty. [Read more →]


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The Only Way to Build a Brand on Social Media is Through Trust

October 19th, 2014 · TedRubin

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Whether you’re building your personal brand, your business brand or both, one thing remains true: You need content to help you build trust and followers.

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How to Market to Women Using Social Media

October 17th, 2014 · TedRubin


Many women pride themselves on being savvy consumers who can sniff out a poseur brand. Brands need to be the conduit for information to women from other women and from experts, but be wary of star power – celebrities don’t cut it. Marketers that have a woman’s trust have worked to earn it, by making good products, offering relevant advice and engaging those women. All peers have influence to some degree, especially when marketing to women so the more you understand and relate to the community the better off the brand. If you market to women. recognize and benefit from the value women place on authenticity. Women are busy with multiple responsibilities so keep your site’s navigation intuitive and simple, and keep your message clear and concise. [Read more →]


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In War and Business, Complacency Isn’t an Option

October 8th, 2014 · TedRubin


I’ve said before that business and war have much in common. Entrenched companies keep doing what got them there, just as victors in war tend to fight subsequent battles with the same tried-and-true tactics. [Read more →]


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Getting the Most Bang for Your Content Buck

September 29th, 2014 · TedRubin

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“Now that you’ve taken the time to create targeted content for your audience, learn how to share it over and over again to build a loyal following.”

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Super Easy Fishing Lessons for Modern Marketers ~via @InsideCXM

September 26th, 2014 · TedRubin


There are some great marketing lessons to be taken from fishing, and I’m not talking about the “ph-” variety. If you’ve ever been fishing with an expert, on that expert’s home turf, you know that it can be an almost artistic experience. Before your boat even hits the water, your expert companion tells you where the fish will be, when they’ll be there, the bait or equipment most likely to appeal to those fish, and the techniques you’ll need to land them. It can all seem a bit much to the uninitiated, until you reach the fishing spot and the expert is either proven correct, or ready to adjust on the fly to the day’s conditions. Either way, you’ll soon be catching fish.

What the heck does this have to do with marketing? People are much more sophisticated than fish, of course, but otherwise many of the same principles apply to marketing on social. The best way to catch fish is to give them what they want. The easiest way to find out what they want is to study them intently. In this way, people and fish are not so different.

Finding the Perfect Fishing Hole

It all starts with knowing what you’re looking for, and learning where to find it. Fortunately for us, social sites don’t guard that information like fishing experts do. You can find solid, if imperfect, demographic information about most social sites. Before you start dropping lines in the water, visit the most promising sites and listen to the discussions. It’s a bit like detective work. Follow the best leads, and eventually you’ll find the people you’re seeking.

Selecting the Right Bait

Once you find what you’re looking for, listen some more. Pay attention to what people post and how they interact with one another. Get involved in the conversation, and make note of what you learn as you go. Always remember to be courteous, listen intently, and respond in a personal, meaningful way. All of these techniques will help you find the perfect bait to reel in new customers. In order to land them, first you need to understand them.

As you continue to listen, you’ll also learn why people congregate in a given place. Learning where to find the fish might lead to a banner day. Learning why they congregate where they do will keep those banner days rolling well into the future.

Landing the Prize

You know where to find your audience, and you know what they want. Now all you need to do is go out there and make the catch. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll be in great position to succeed. You can’t expect things to go perfectly every time, though. A fishing expert is defined as much by their ability to adapt as their ability to plan.

If your plan falls to pieces, listen some more. Learn all that you can, as you go. Expect the unpredictable, and be prepared to move on to another plan when the time is right. You can’t learn everything about fishing overnight, and the same is true of social. The more you listen and learn, the more prepared you’ll be to adapt when an unexpected outside influence forces you to change course.

Sustaining Success

People are much more willing to be “caught” than fish, as long as you offer value for their attention and loyalty. Once more, it all comes back to listening. Build your buyers’ personas with the same zeal the fishing expert shows in profiling fish. The medium and methods may change over time, but as long as you know your audience, treat them with respect, and build relationships, you’ll be ready for anything.

Originally posted at InsideCXM AUGUST 18, 2014 BY 


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