kenny soto successful meetings post

The Two Essential Parts of a Successful Meeting

Meetings can be a chore but, they are necessary.

Regardless of what you do for your business, eventually you will have to conduct or be a part of a team meeting. I have attended meetings in multiple school clubs, so my experience is limited. However, if there is one thing I have noticed is that, not all meetings are productive. 

After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that there are two aspects of a meeting that can make it, so no one is wasting their time: an agenda and meeting minutes.

An agenda is your Gandalf, leading you to Mordor.*

When I became the secretary for my fraternity I didn’t have much training, so I had no idea what was expected of me during the first executive meeting. It was a daunting experience, one that doesn’t seem as scary now. I realized however that I would have a significant impact on how our team would be organized very early on when the president of our team asked me to start writing the agendas. 

Now first and foremost, I am still debating over whether or not one person should ultimately decide what is on the agenda for any meeting. But, at the end of the day, there needs to be a directed discussion about something. No matter what your team’s overall objectives are, they have to be organized to save time. 

I have witnessed meetings that lead to nowhere because we either have too much oversight on important topics that need to be covered or because we didn’t have enough time in the meeting to discuss it. I personally have adopted the Steve Jobs way of conducting meetings: if there is no agenda, please do not waste my time. 

Agendas are not the end all be all; there also needs to be some flexibility for discussion on topics not on there if circumstances come to it. However, keep in mind that an agenda should consist of the essential items that need to be addressed by the team to move forward (all other items should be secondary to the team’s goals). An agenda helps meetings go smoothly and saves a tremendous amount of time.

The time that can be best spent doing what is supposed to be discussed during the meeting.

Write minutes. Then read them!

We can discuss what constitutes a successful meeting for hours but, if there is anything I am convinced of is that to keep a team coordinated, it has to be writing meeting minutes and ensuring the whole team reads them after. The importance of well-constructed meeting minutes is underrated. Minutes allow for those team members who couldn’t attend the meeting to stay informed and allow for your team to better organize reports for your customers and the entire staff.

One key factor to a team’s success is communication, and you cannot achieve that if there aren’t any meeting minutes that can be reviewed at any given time. How can you follow up on action items? How can you ensure that everyone is doing their part? 

Minutes are not just to keep a record of all team discussions but, are also a good indicator of how productivity over time is cataloged and assessed (in a qualitative manner). One of the secretary’s greatest responsibilities is to ensure the team’s minutes are accurate and well-organized. And meeting minutes can only be useful if people read them!

As an involved teammate, you should never be caught dead in a meeting that doesn’t have an agenda set at least 24 hours ahead of time. Also, you have to make sure that someone is ready to take the minutes for the meeting. Everyone’s time will be wasted otherwise. And then you have to ask yourself, “Why did I even add this to my schedule in the first place?

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*Lord of the Rings reference, I hope you didn’t need to read this to know that.
Option Paralysis Kenny Soto

3 Decision Making Strategies to Counter Option Paralysis

Simple decision-making strategies to increase your productivity

Every business professional needs to be effective in completing their tasks but, they can be stumped when a difficult situation arises. Perhaps a client is not satisfied with your product or a key founding partner wants to leave the company. One of the biggest deterrents to making the right decision in any scenario is option paralysis: not being able to make decisions because there are too many options one can choose from. One quick fix to this issue is being impulsive and going with your gut but, this can often times backfire. So what can one do, to stop option paralysis? Below are several decision-making strategies in which you can help optimize your decision-making and make sure you can make the right choice in a timely manner.

 The power of SWOT

From my own experiences in business I have seen most people use SWOT when working on a business plan and not in everyday life. SWOT, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, is a great decision-making strategy used by most business professionals when planning a new business venture such as the launching of a new product line or a merger.  I use this decision-making strategy to quickly see the bigger picture before I make any important decision. Whether it be choosing what to prioritize during the day or who I should do business with to maximize my profit, using this model can help tremendously with speed and productivity.

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Political support
  • Funding available
  • Market experience
  • Strong leadership
  • Project is very complex
  • Likely to be costly
  • May have environmental impact
  • Staff resources are already stretched
Opportunities Threats
  • Project may improve local economy
  • Will improve safety
  • Project will boost company’s public image
  • Environmental constraints
  • Time delays
  • Opposition to change

Example from: Business News Daily

Using this strategy can also help when explaining to your team why you decided to go a specific route. Having a diagram of how you came to your decision will help when explaining why you thought your decision was best for the group and it can help when reflecting on how the decision effected your business when looking back.

Trust your team

Whenever a decision seems too much to handle, remember that you are not alone. Seeking advice is always a really simple way to make sure you are not being complacent in making an important decision. Asking for another person’s perspective can often times enlighten you and show you others ways you can handle specific issues that you may have never considered. One of the reasons it is always best to surround yourself with people who do not think like you is so you can expand your mind and constantly learn different ways to approach any given situation. Never forget the power of the many in making a decision, one person can only see so much. Another positive of making difficult decisions through the advice of others is that you get to see how your team members will make decisions in your absence. It is very important to know who you should trust with the responsibility of making choices for the team in the event of an emergency when you are not able to be there and supervise the situation. It also shows who can possibly become your successor if you ever decide to leave the team and venture off into something else.

Flip a coin

This is the last resort way I make my decisions if I find myself thinking too much about pressing matters. I keep it simple and flip a coin. If it lands and I do not agree with the decision then I know that is the one I have to make. I don’t necessarily let the coin decide for me, I just let it solidify my decision. Do not under any circumstances leave anything up to chance. Just use this tactic to make sure that all doubts are subdued and you can assure yourself that you are doing what you believe is best.

I like to limit my decision-making strategies to these three because as “option paralysis” can deter you from making a decision, the same effect can happen by having too many strategies to work around it as well. Keep things simple when you can so you can go through your life and professional career in a fluid and productive way. You save yourself countless time by keeping these decision-making strategies in mind.

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Blog post image about organization

Organization: A Leader’s Obsession

We are subjected to a constant barrage of tasks and responsibilities. Every day, we have to complete before the end of the day, as a leader, completing all these objectives each day sometimes feels insurmountable, there never seems to be enough time during the day to complete everything.  In one of my earlier articles, I went over the essential qualities a leader should have. One skill a leader needs in, order to succeed (and stay sane) is organization.

Fall in love with your calendar.

I would not survive college if I did not follow my iPhone calendar. The key to success is to follow the four D’s of success:

  1. Do it
  2. Delegate it
  3. Defer it
  4. Drop it

This is the formula I use to rank each item on my calendar. With all the goals a leader has throughout the day, they aren’t effectively supporting their team if they are doing all the work. A leader who does what he promises is necessary, however, being able to delegate tasks to your team  (you can see other qualities every leader should have here). Another thing to always remember is that if something can be done tomorrow, worry about every thing that is important today. To help with this you have to set up criteria for what exactly is important in order of 1-5. Using a simple ranking system, such as: Family chores, School Work, Internship, etc. The easiest to defer anything is to set a list of priorities during the day, week, and the month. Finally, always remember that successful people always say no. You can not accept every thing people ask you to do. This is how leaders over extend themselves, they say yes to everything and that is never ok. The key to time management is to consistently understand that it is impossible for you to do every thing that you want to. Always focus on doing one important thing at a time.

Get a task journal to build infrastructure for your organization goals.

To stay on track of everything I have to do during the week I keep a journal that I write in when I arrive home everyday. The point of the journal isn’t to just write what you have done and what you haven’t done, it is so you can record the process of how you completed each task. Understanding how to improve on each process so you can complete  similar tasks in the future more efficiently is some thing I highly suggest doing if you are a very busy person. It also helps with making sure you aren’t wasting too much time on one specific thing; knowing that you can come with better approach to reaching a goal after studying how you’ve done things beforehand is really helpful.

To stay organized make sure you do the bare minimum.

There will be days where you can’t complete all things you want to do but, they need to get done. The best practice is to do the bare minimum on the tasks that aren’t necessarily as important as the other tasks you need to complete. Just because something has to be done immediately doesn’t mean it is more important than your other tasks. If you keep this in mind you will save yourself a lot of time and stress and keep yourself organized.

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digital dieting kenny soto

The Importance of Digital Dieting

Not all time spent on the net is healthy.

There are thousands of fitness programs, gyms, and personal trainers out there that work solely for one purpose: keeping your body healthy. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any services created (at least to my knowledge) on how to manage the Internet and specifically mobile, bingeing. There have been some startling statistics on the amount time we are all exposed to digital media during our daily activities.

1. Let’s talk and interact.

It has become increasingly common for most social gatherings in life to consist of people talking to each other while simultaneously having their phones in their hands. I never noticed this small little fact until I spent a day without my phone. I could not help but, be slightly irritated when I would speak with my friends and they would constantly check every notification they had. It became increasingly more apparent that this was an issue when I worked retail and saw that one of the employee rules was not to take out your phone while behind the counter. It slowly dawned on me that perhaps a lot of people were not monitoring the amount of time they spent on the internet (it doesn’t show any immediate side effects when you are using it). Speaking from my personal experience, I have learned that  both professionally and socially, it is rude not to engage with who you’re talking with in any situation. Part of digital dieting is learning how to support some level of self-control when interacting with others in the non-virtual world.

2. The Internet is a tool.

I recently had an engaging conversation with a new acquaintance of mine about what are some the most important subjects the urban youth in New York has to learn. I mentioned digital dieting to him, and we spent a considerable amount of time discussing our views on social media and video streaming platforms (what happens to most of us when running through a rabbit hole of videos and posts). There is a vast amount of articles everyone has access to that is just waiting to be absorbed. As opposed to just scrolling through “memes” and photos of your old friends, subscribe to magazines and news articles. I am in no way promoting that you deactivate any of your social media accounts; I am only suggesting an alternative to your regular digital routine. Consider how you will utilize your time before interacting with your phone the next time you begin that initial interaction with it.

3. Give yourself time to enjoy your surroundings.

There are so many moments that we miss daily because our necks are spent bent down looking at screens. I have been a victim of this for some time now. There are so many beautiful things that occur while I am walking through Central Park or Brooklyn and I miss them because I am tweeting about my walks. Mobile phones have certainly helped countless people and industries; all I am suggesting is that we become more aware of our usage of the Internet. Perhaps this may seem a little extreme but as an experiment leave your phone home for a day. It will show you how dependent we have become on our little tiny pocket boxes.

Time is your most precious commodity, and you need to maximize all the time you have, especially when using the internet.

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