ProTips

The E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals

(First Anniversary Issue, December 2004)

 

A guide to this month’s edition

1. Welcome

2. ProTips for Professional Development

3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

4. Topic of the Month: How to Present Like a Pro: Part II

5. Quote of the Month

6. Ramblings

7. Announcements

 

Welcome

 

Welcome to the First Anniversary Issue of “ProTips, the E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals.” This month’s newsletter is filled with tips and thoughts to help with your professional development and to manage your business more profitably. My purpose is to stimulate your thinking; the industry benefits most when we all do our best.

 

I encourage you to share “ProTips, the E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals” with your colleagues and friends. They can subscribe by simply going to my Web site at

http://www.protoconsulting.com and selecting the Sign-up link on the home page.

 

If you have any comments, questions, or would like more information about any of the topics discussed in this newsletter, call me at 510.881.9440, or send an e-mail to ron@protoconsulting.com.

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2. ProTips for Professional Development

 

Get ready for the New Year…clean and organize your office. December is generally a slow month unless you’re in retail, so take advantage of it. Go through the piles of “stuff” that have accumulated on your desk, the floor, and yes--the windowsill. This is no time to get sentimental. File the important papers, organize the binders, reports and reference manuals you use frequently, recycle what you can, and toss the rest! Start the New Year off right with a clean and organized office.

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Get ready for the New Year II…Clean and organize the hard drive on your computer. Caution--back up your hard drive before you start--just in case you get too rambunctious and toss out that important memo from your boss’s boss. If you haven’t already done so, set up a series of folders and subfolders in the document directory and give them meaningful names. The key here is “meaningful names.” No matter how convenient the “find” option is on your computer, if you can’t remember the name of the folder, the “find” command isn’t going to help you. Organize your documents by dragging and dropping them into the appropriate folders. One last tip: before you delete a computer file, or if you’re not sure where to put it, you might want to consider making one more folder, which we’ll call “Suspense.” Drop any document that you are uncertain about into this folder. Yes, it will take up room on your hard drive, but its location will not be a mystery or an irretrievable loss.

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Get ready for the New Year III…There is one last place to check so you can start the New Year clean and organized. Let’s go to your e-mail program and look at your “Sent Items” folder. If you have never checked it out, don’t be surprised if you have a couple of thousand items in it. Now don’t get excited; some of those are linked to important messages and you don’t want to delete them. There are, however, lots of meaningless e-mails cluttering up the folder and possibly slowing down your computer. Some e-mail programs have limits on how much can be stored. Take some time over the next few weeks to delete the ones you don’t want. Free up some space and hopefully speed up your computer so you can blast into the New Year.

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3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

It’s all about the customer…The holidays have been thrust upon us. Stores were putting up Christmas decorations long before Thanksgiving Day, and with the holidays comes a lot more of what we do--GARBAGE. This is a time to review your extra service policy. Remember that when your customers set out extra garbage alongside their container they do so with the intention that you will take it away. Nothing irks a customer more than to return home after a hard day’s work to find the extra garbage still there. Just as no child should be left behind, no garbage should be left behind. Instruct your collection crews to take it all. It’s a small price to pay and it shouts Happy Holidays! We’re delighted to serve you!

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It’s all about the worker…With the holidays also comes a big dose of stress. Every year you read about how stressful the holidays can be, yet every year we indulge ourselves repeatedly. Remember that your workers are part of those statistics. Not only will they have the regular holiday stress that everyone experiences; they’ll also have the stress of more work and longer hours because of the extra garbage. Show them you care and appreciate their efforts. Bring in donuts a few extra times or organize a couple of lunches. They don’t have to be extravagant, but a sandwich and a drink go a long way. Better yet, take the coffee and donuts or the sandwiches and drinks out to the route, and while you’re at it, take a break with them. They’ll appreciate that you took the time to think about them.

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It’s all about the community…The holidays are a time of giving and sharing, and when you give to your community, you give to your customers. Look around your community to see who can use your help; I mean, who can really use your help? You don’t always have to give money or food, although both are always in demand. This year try giving of yourself; your time is the most valuable thing you can give. One year we organized a group of union volunteers to help a not-for-profit organization move its offices. Yes, we could have paid for the move and it would have been greatly appreciated, but we had the trucks and the staff to do the job ourselves. The response from the organization and its supporters was overwhelming. The organization got a free move and the drivers got a great big dose of feeling good about their efforts. It really helps to connect the company to the bigger picture--the community--made up of every one of your customers.

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4. Topic of the Month: How to Present like a Pro: Part II

Last month we looked at content; this month we’ll discuss how to deliver your presentation like a pro. First, a quick review on content:

 

Now that the final draft of your presentation is ready, it’s time to prepare it for delivery. This next step is critical: read the carefully worded draft several times and distill it to an outline. Then, distill the outline to six or seven index cards, or if you prefer to leave your outline on full sheets of paper, that’s fine. Your goal is to reduce the draft to the essence of your presentation.

 

If you’ve decided to use slides, here are a few simple guidelines. First, all slides must be readable from the back of the room. Second, use only three or four bullet points on a slide and no more than four or five words per line. Hold slides to about 15 words. This means no large blocks of text should ever go up on a slide. Write clear, crisp bullet points that the audience can read at a glance.

 

Now it’s time to practice. Remember what Joe Paterno, the famous football coach, said, “The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.” Put another way, “Failing to prepare is preparing for failure,”--Unknown. There are many ways to say it, but practice is the name of the game. If you have a favorite way to practice use it, and if you don’t, here are a couple of tips to help. The important thing is to do it!

 

Take your index cards and silently go over your presentation. Time yourself to make sure you stay within the allotted time. Continue to practice every chance you get, and move to practicing out loud. Hear your words and phrases, and don’t forget to time yourself. You’ll have to refine your presentation as you go, to finish within the time limit.

 

At some point you’ll have to turn your practice into a dress rehearsal. You don’t necessarily have to dress up, but you’ll have to go through your presentation live with slides and anything else you’re including. Make note of when to change slides so the transition is effortless. When the slide has made your point, blank the computer screen or the overhead projector. Keeping the slide up after it has served its purpose will always detract from the speaker.

 

If you are using a laser pointer, hold the pointer on the slide at the point where you want to draw the audience’s attention. Don’t distract your audience by moving it all over the screen. Point…make your point…and move on.

 

Record the rehearsal and listen to the tape. Make adjustments as necessary. Most important, make sure you touch on all your key points. If you can video your rehearsal all the better, but if not, a tape recorder will work fine.

 

It’s showtime. Try to rehearse at least once in the presentation location. If that’s not possible, make sure you get there early to set up your equipment. If you choose to go solo, without slides, you still want to check out the site so you can get comfortable with the surroundings. If the opportunity arises, greet your audience as they enter the room. You’ll make an instant connection with them and it will go a long way toward easing the butterflies. When the show begins, breathe deeply and relax. If you planned your presentation carefully and took the time to rehearse diligently, all those butterflies will fly in formation.

 

Remember, YOU are your presentation. Good luck.

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5. Quote of the Month

 

So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work."

Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong (1900-71), American jazz trumpeter

 

If you recall, in ProTips Issue No. 5 I wrote about making it easier for your customers to do business with you. Now it’s time for you to think about how you can make it easier for your workers to do their jobs. Do you have policies or procedures in place that stifle them? If so, this would be a good time to perform surgery and cut or change the procedures to streamline your operation.

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6. Ramblings

This is the first anniversary issue of “ProTips, the E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals.” Thank you for all your kind words throughout the past year. It has been a delight to receive your comments, questions, and encouragement along the way. I’ve enjoyed writing ProTips as much as you have enjoyed reading it. I appreciate you allowing me to show up in your inbox every month.

 

The purpose of ProTips is to stimulate your thinking; an active mind is a creative mind. Judging from your comments, I may have succeeded, but the real proof is in your success. Hopefully, you’ve noticed improvements in your career and to your bottom line.

 

The secret to capitalizing on any tip or idea is to put it into action. Without action it remains just a tip or idea. I encourage you not only to try out the ideas in ProTips, but also to indulge yourself in publications from other industries. Certain issues like human resources, operations, and customer service cut across all businesses. Writers from other industries share a different perspective on the same issues you face. Looking at the same issue from different perspectives will help you make better decisions.

 

Keep looking, listening, and learning; your career, your business, and your family are all depending on you.

 

I need your help to increase ProTips’ readership by 50 percent next year. Since ProTips is free, it will only cost you a little time. Please send ProTips to friends and colleagues and suggest they sign up. It doesn’t matter what industry they work in; as stated above, they might benefit from a different perspective. If they are interested in receiving ProTips every month, all they have to do is go to my Web site, http://www.protoconsulting.com where a Sign-up link appears on the home page.

 

If you are interested in the past issues of ProTips, there is an archive at the bottom of the sign-up page. Go to http://www.protoconsulting.com click on “Sign-up,” then scroll to the bottom of the page. All the past issues of ProTips are posted there for your convenience.

 

As we start to close the curtain on this year and peak into a bright 2005, my family (Vivian, Ronnie, Amy, and Joshua, Joel and Erin) and I wish you and your family Happy Holidays and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

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7. Announcements

 

If you would like more information on any of the above topics, call me at 510.881.9440 or send an e-mail to ron@protoconsulting.com. Please visit my Web site at http://www.protoconsulting.com for more ideas on professional development and operational improvements.

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“ProTips, the E-newsletter For Waste Industry Professionals” is produced and distributed monthly by R.J. Proto Consulting Group, Inc. I encourage you to share it with your colleagues and friends. You may reproduce this electronic newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include the correct copyright notice (at the end of this newsletter), with a link to my Web site, http://www.protoconsulting.com.

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© Copyright 2004 Ronald J. Proto all rights reserved.