On a sunny October morning, Toastmasters gathered at Synopsys in Mountain View for District 101’s first Fall Fusion event. Greeting us at the registration table was Spider-Man (apparently, the secret identity of Division D Director, Vaibhav Singh).
We launched into a packed day of educational sessions, activities and contests (Table Topics, Humorous Speeches and a costume contest), with networking and a nourishing full breakfast. Breakfast was later followed by a tasty Mediterranean lunch, supplemented by Halloween candy. Pavan Datla, Program Quality Director, opened the event, introduced the Fall Fusion Team, and shared news and club achievements.
Probably the only “trick” for the day was selecting between the many simultaneous educational sessions – always a difficult choice.
Morning educational sessions included:
- Art of Mentoring – Ravi Gundlapalli
- Transferable Skills: Effective Facilitation – Dave Spence
- Improv to Improve Your Leadership – Elaine Lung
Afternoon educational sessions included:
- Art of Technical Presentations – Dan Beck
- Scaling Yourself – Satish Shenoy
- Catapult Your Career Branding – Easy Steps to Success – Rita Barber
Lured by the promise of getting practical information on how to maximize productivity and be able to do more of the things we want to do – vital for anyone in this busy Silicon Valley culture – for the afternoon session I chose to attend Scaling Yourself with Satish Shenoy.
Satish began the session by referencing the movie, Office Space, where Peter, a cog in the corporate machine, spends his days doing pointless tasks or avoiding said tasks. Satish followed up with the statement, “When you walk out [of his session] you’ll have more time to do things you want to do – guaranteed!” The way to achieve this goal is through Satish’s “field and battle-tested” Framework of Plan, Focus, Optimize and Leverage.
“Plan” consists of Timing, Structure and Order. Timing: Find the time when you’re most productive. The first peak will be the time to work on Analytic activities, filling in with routine tasks in your “slump” time (usually after lunch for most people) and reserving the next peak (Recovery) for Creative elements. Good news for Larks (early risers) is that they generally have more energy and are better at getting things done (sorry night Owls). Structure: Satish uses a self-journal to plan his day; it has sections for the plan for the day, notes and ideas, goals, targets, lessons learned (reflections on the day), and wins. He begins and ends with written daily gratitude and says it has changed his whole perspective. Order: Figure out your most difficult task for the day and do it first.
“Focus” consists of Purpose, Execution and Discipline. Any goal (purpose) must have a plan; work backwards in time to determine what needs to be done when, to achieve it. Satish’s example was of his running a marathon in Africa and what actions he needed to take, daily, weekly and monthly, leading up to the date of the marathon, to make that happen. Put any short-term items on your calendar (such as “take car in for maintenance” or “buy bread”). Use the Pomodoro Technique to discipline yourself to focus without interruptions on an activity for a period of time.
“Optimize” consists of Tasks, Hacks and Tools. Satish said Optimize is about effectiveness and efficiency; doing the right things and doing the right things right. Categorize your tasks by Urgent or Not, Important or Not and Do, Defer, Delegate or Delete as appropriate. His Hacks were about eliminating the “noise” of daily work to allow time to focus on necessary work. One hack that resonated with me was to batch process emails by only turning them on and responding to them three times a day, morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day. He offered a variety of online Tools to help with time management and organization, etc.
Per Satish, “Leverage” is the “most important category there is.” It consists of creating a Personal Board of Directors comprised of Fans (“cheer you on”), Sponsors (“pull you up”) and Critics (“tell you the truth”), a Mastermind group (peer-to-peer mentoring) and taking advantage of using Virtual Assistants.
His final thoughts were to pick what works for you, start small and reward wins. Put these in place and you’re guaranteed to have more time for what you want to do.
All in all, the entire Fall Fusion was a terrific treat – much better, and the effects longer-lasting, than a basket of candy!
by Lynn Stuart