Author Archive

Media is buzzing with news that new CEO

Media is buzzing with news that new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, is expecting her first child. Amid criticism that Mayer won’t be able to give her full attention to saving Yahoo, the Yahoo board is being applauded for hiring Mayer after they knew she was expecting. We would love to hear your thoughts. What do you think? Why is it such a big deal?


My Inbox is Out of Control!

My Inbox is Out of Control!

If you are like many executives in today’s fast-paced, digitally interconnected world, you receive some overwhelming number of email each day.  In 2004 it was estimated that the average worker sent 34 and received 99.  In 2009 researches estimated that the average size of a persons inbox was nearly 3000 messages!

A few tips on managing that out of control beast:

Prioritize / Filter

–       Color-code contacts – Outlook and other programs allow you to add colors or categories to your contact lists.  When email comes in from those contacts, the subject line is the color of their “category”.  I keep family one color, customers another, and vendors another.  This allows me to quickly prioritize in what order to respond and allows me to visually sort through the messages.

–       Use multiple accounts – Use a separate account for those things that might be optional, or lower priority like subscriptions to news sites, social media, blog feeds or even online purchases.  Visit those when you have time for lower-priority tasks and reserve your primary address for those important messages

Touch them once

If you can, respond to the message, forward to someone else (delegate the task) and don’t come back to the message.  Once you have responded, get it out of the Inbox.  If you need to keep it, set up folders in the system to allow you to archive and find it later.  If you don’t need to archive, use the delete button.  Never look back at the message again.   Keeping your inbox small will allow you to see everything in front of you that you still need to deal with and will feel much less overwhelming than the 3,000 items which are lurking there now.

Schedule Email time

Schedule time in your day to “DO EMAIL”.  Having your email program running in the background means that every time a message comes in, you are prone to be distracted from whatever else you are working on.  Find a routine that fits: Once an hour, Three times a day, whatever works for your email volume and your daily schedule.

I would love to hear any additional tips you might have for managing your inbox!

Written by Zack Clark, MBA

Zack is a Senior Consultant and one of the founding partners at Five Degrees Consulting. Connect with on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

This is a blog we share  between several of the Consultants at Five Degrees, guest authors and colleagues.  We work with companies large and small on People and Organization strategies.  Our work specializes in organizational development, leadership effectiveness and executive development. With a focus on working with leaders at all levels to create an intentional corporate culture, we help organizations increase employee engagement, energize working teams, develop critical leadership competencies and enhance strategic communications for more information about our services, please connect with us.

Guest Post

On Monday, we will have a great guest blog from Brian Behle on effectively dealing with transitions. Stay tuned!

Five Degrees Consulting Online Book Club

Calling all readers! Please join us in our very first online book club! I want to invite you to follow Clare Coonan, Co-founder and Senior Consultant at Five Degrees Consulting, as she leads discussions and answers questions on personally selected, relevant leadership and business books. You have a chance to follow a book club in the comfort of your own home or office and tune into a discussion anytime throughout the week. The first book Clare will be discussing is, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does–and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges.

So snatch up a copy of this ‘paradigm-shattering book’ and join us in our first discussion on Friday, March 2nd. What time? Anytime! Clare likened it to Words with Friends, you can participate at your own pace, wherever you are. Post in a discussion or just follow it. You can choose!

Click here to join the Five Degrees Consulting Book Club. You will need to create a completely free account with Need help? Email me at

Thanks to all our readers!

Meagan Nielsen

Meagan is co-founder and all things administrative and then some at Five Degrees Consulting. You can find her on LinkedIn and tweeting for Five Degrees @fivedeg.

Communicating Right Messages

A friend of mine gets her hair done at an expensive salon downtown. She justifies the high price of the hair services because they offer free touch-ups or small trims in between cuts and colors. She went into the salon to get her bangs trimmed and her usual stylist who is also the salon owner was out. She was met with an employee who trimmed her bangs and then after proceeded to charge for it. After informing the employee that she usually gets this service free of charge, the employee told her they didn’t know anything about it and their policy had probably recently changed.

Later, when my friend had not returned to the salon for some time she ran into her old stylist who inquired on her absence. After an explanation from my friend the stylist told her that the employee made a mistake, the service should have been free of charge, and invited her back with an apology.

Be sure you are communicating the right message to your employees or co-workers so that message can be correctly communicated to the customer, it might just mean keeping one. Luckily, this salon owner was able to rectify the situation and keep the business.

Getting To The Point

I was reading a post my colleague had written and I was amazed at how quickly they got their point across in one or two paragraphs when I would have probably taken 10 rambling paragraphs to say the same thing.

Getting my point across clearly, quickly, and concisely has never been my strong point so somehow I am going to attempt to write a blogpost on addressing this issue, short and sweet.

I usually feel the need to offer some sort of explanation or disclaimer before I ask a question or deliver a message. Why do I do this? Maybe I feel that I am always second guessing what I have to say or unsure about the response I am going to get. Most of the time the person receiving my message ends up being lost when I finally get to my point or I am surprised to hear them just say “okay”, “sounds good”, or “get on with it then.” Trust your guts and instincts and go with it. I think we can all appreciate when someone saves both parties some time and just gets to the point.

My #1 job

Here at Five Degrees Consulting, we have a book called “The Rules of Engagement.” It is twenty-one ideas to keep employers and employees on target and engaged. One of those rules is “Make other’s success your #1 job.”

When we share this with our clients, it is interesting to hear and see their reactions. For some, it really sets them back as they consider what it means to them day in and day out.

From the book…

An offensive lineman’s #1 job is to make the quarterback successful. He does that by making sure the defensive lineman never puts a hand on the quarterback. When we make sure the person standing next to us is successful, we create a chain of success that builds a strong organization.

In our world of dog eat dog, this can be a very difficult idea to implement. I commonly have to ask myself what I am doing to ensure that my colleagues are finding success. Sometimes I do all I can, other times I fall short. It gets even deeper when we consider that not everyone defines success the same as I do.

I’m curious what you think. Can one improve their own lot while focussing on the success of others? Will what goes around eventually come around professionally? Have you seen this work in your life?

%d bloggers like this: