“If the first thing that you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long,” wrote Brian Tracy paraphrasing Mark Twain in his book Eat That Frog*.  I, personally, found this metaphor very helpful during my early days cold-calling to drum up business for One Horn.   I had to stop procrastinating and just pick up the phone.  Tracy went on to write that if you have to eat two frogs, to eat the ugliest one first.  This was his way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, most difficult, and most important task first.  Tracy went on to write that if you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and stare at it for a long time, in other words don’t procrastinate.

Tracy’s philosophy is really about building a lifelong habit of tackling your most important task first thing in the morning.  He believes this is key to building high performance and productivity.  At One Horn, we are constantly reading to learn new ideas to build our operational efficiency and personal effectiveness.  Cultivating this habit falls into both categories.  Tracy’s Three D’s of new habit formation are:  Decision, Discipline, and Determination.

In the early days of One Horn, for me the most important activity I could ever be doing was sales and business development.  Yet at times, I was not really all that excited about it, so I’d start doing smaller, easier tasks to get them out of the way “quickly” before I tackled the cold-calling or networking calls.  Before I knew it, it was lunchtime.  Sound familiar?  So then people take their lunches at different times, so it really didn’t make sense to call until after 2 p.m.  And now more than half my day was gone.  After 2 p.m. is my personal lowest-energy part of the day, so I should really be doing the easy stuff at this time of day.

In following Brian Tracy’s advice, I made the decision to force myself to do what was most important first thing in the morning, sales.  I created discipline by making an appointment with myself in my Outlook calendar, a recurring appointment from 10-12 in the morning to do cold-calling and networking.  Tracy’s book has 21 tips, and “Plan Every Day in Advance” is Tip #2.  My friend Chris Curran, author of The Leap, also helped me by encouraging me to call this time my “Power Hour” (even though, as an overachiever, I had to do it for two hours).  Determination:  Now it was no longer a question, I just sat myself down every day at 10 a.m., got onto our CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Program called Sugar, and started my new calls and follow-ups.  As an aside, Sugar is a great open source resource for a free CRM software.

They say it takes 30 days to create a habit, and I’m not sure if it took 30 days, probably a few more, but now this habit is engrained in me.  It helped me achieve strong results in getting appointments to meet new prospects face-to-face, and to get shippers to try One Horn even without a face-to-face meeting.  Once we changed from a pure transportation brokerage model to an agent-based model, my new “Power Hour” (really two hours) is DEAR, which stands for “Drop Everything and Recruit”, coined from my kids’ Read Across America Days in elementary school when they sounded a bell and had to “Drop Everything and Read”.  I now work on recruitment related activities first thing in the morning, and if a live candidate is available and interested in learning more about One Horn, no matter what I am doing, I’ll Drop Everything and Recruit.

Tracy’s philosophy encouraged me to identify my goals and what tasks are the most important towards achieving my goals.  My goal is to grow One Horn.  At first as a carrier and then a traditional transportation brokerage, sales was the most important task I, personally, could be doing.  Now as an agent-based freight brokerage recruiting is the key.  Thanks to Tracy, I have a large note on the top of my bulletin board that reads, “Focus!!! What is the most valuable use of my time right now?”  I know the answer for me.  What is the most valuable use of your time?

In my next blog, I will write about how I came to the answer for me, so I can give you some tools to find the answer for you.

– By Cheryl Biron, President

*Click through for full references on books that inspired us:  http://onehorn.com/agents/get-inspired