What’s in your tool chest?

first_imgThis is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.My friend Andy came to Boston on Tuesday. He lives in LA and sent me an e-mail to let me know he was coming to town: “If you’re free and interested, I’d be glad to buy you dinner.”Between you and me, I wasn’t sure if his invitation meant that he’d be eating along with me, but a free meal is a free meal, so I took my chances and said yes.He told me he was staying at the Westin Hotel in Copley place, so I suggested Legal Sea Foods, a terrific restaurant that never disappoints. We agreed to meet at 6:30.I arrived about 10 minutes early so I had a seat at the bar and ordered a beer. 20 minutes later he hadn’t shown up, so I sent him a text:Me: Here at Legal!
Andy: Seated
Me: Stand byI grabbed my half-full glass, walked into the restaurant proper and started looking around.No Andy. So I asked a waiter: “Have you seen a guy sitting by himself in here somewhere?” Nope.As I made my way back to the front entrance, things were starting to click together. I asked the hostess: “By any chance, is there more than one Legal Sea Foods in the area?”She smiled and handed me a small slip of paper. I confess that for one fleeting moment I thought maybe it would be her phone number, but no, it was walking directions to the other Legal Sea Food.I thanked her, sent a quick text to Andy and gulped the remainder of my beer. Eight minutes later, we were sitting down to dinner.Now I don’t know why the people at Legal feel the need for two restaurants so close together. Some people go years between seafood meals; certainly the rest of us could afford to hang on for three more blocks.Whatever the reason, clearly I was not the first person to make this mistake. The prewritten slip of paper was a smart idea – one that made the hostess’s life easier by her not having to keep repeating walking directions and my life easier by not having to remember them.So, what kinds of simple, efficient tools have you developed for your business? If you find yourself creating things from scratch, over and over again, it might be worth considering.Here are a few that I rely on, to help get you thinking:Directions to my office. I don’t get a ton of visitors, but after typing it into an e-mail a few times, I developed a one-sheet direction page complete with a map, instructions for parking and my contact information. I e-mail it to people the first time they come.Standardized cards. “Congratulations on the launch of your newsletter;” “Thank you for the referral;” “Good to meet you.”
 
Using an online service called Send Out Cards (my affiliate link) that automates the sending of snail mail cards from my computer, I’ve set up a number of standard templates. I customize the messages each time, but the format is done and ready to go.Service descriptions. I’ve got a handful of client programs that I offer. These are invariably customized for different people and different situations, but here as well, I begin with a standard template that I modify.New client questionnaire. I ask new clients to fill out a 30-question (or so) questionnaire about their company, goals, approach, clients, etc., before our first meeting.
 
It helps them begin thinking about our work together and gives me greater insight into who they are and what they need before we begin. Plus, it gives them the (accurate) impression that I’ve done this many times before.Newsletter sign-up form. Speaking to a group is a terrific opportunity to grow your newsletter subscriber list. If they like you, you can easily walk away with 75% of the room signing up.
 
I’ve got a form that I pass out and that I’ve fine-tuned over the years to make this as productive as possible (click “reply” to send me an e-mail and I’m happy to share it with you).Here’s the bottom line. Lots of solos don’t bother developing these kinds of simple tools and systems – they think they’re only for big companies and big projects.Not me. The way I look at it, the more efficient we can get managing repeatable, often mundane aspects of our work, the more time there is for eating seafood.Michael Katz is a Boston-based marketing consultant and founder of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in helping professional service firms stand out from the pack by positioning them as Likeable Experts. Get a free copy of his report, “The Professional Service Provider’s Essential Reading List – 11 Recommended Business(ish) Books.”last_img read more

TEMPE Ariz — Pitiful offense from the air to the

first_img TEMPE, Ariz. — Pitiful offense from the air to the ground, from first down to third, led the Arizona Cardinals down this path.Head coach Steve Wilks said it was his decision Friday to fire offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and replace him with quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich as the Cardinals ranked last or second-to-last in most key offensive categories through their seventh game of the year.“As the head coach it’s my responsibility to make these tough decisions and try to do everything I can to make sure that I have the right personnel — most importantly the right coaches — in the right positions,” Wilks said. “I felt we needed a change. Comments   Share   Johnson has accumulated 335 rushing yards to this point, but even more flummoxing has been his disappearance in the passing game, something Arians openly criticized on the TD Fantasy Podcast a month ago. Targeted just 30 times in seven weeks of play, Johnson has 20 catches and 133 receiving yards.“With Byron being here before and being a part of that and understanding some of the success he’s had in the past, hopefully we can tap back on to some of the things David was doing in the past,” Wilks said.And with that, Wilks made his most difficult head coaching decision after Arizona’s 1-6 start. He didn’t shy away from a question about whether the McCoy firing was the first of many changes to come.Wilks will continue to evaluate coaches and players every week, he said.Asked if Leftwich’s title as the new offensive coordinator was permanent or if it came with an interim tag, the head coach had this to say:“Right now it’s hard to say anybody is going to be permanent.” FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, file photo, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen (3) talks with quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich, right, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File) The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo “We wasn’t productive enough. Let’s just say that. That may be an understatement.”But in considering the production, the offensive coordinator swap comes down to the individual players, too.Star running back David Johnson is averaging 3.2 yards per carry seven games after inking a long-term contract extension. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was sacked six times Thursday and turned the ball over five times in a 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, a game that the team hopes ends the crescendo of what looks like a threat to both his literal health and developmental health.Related LinksThe Cardinals offense under fired OC Mike McCoy: By the numbersArizona Cardinals fire OC Mike McCoy, promote Byron LeftwichWhat to know about new Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron LeftwichArians on TD Fantasy Podcast: Cards are improperly using David JohnsonRosen’s quarterback rating was the second-worst of any game played across the NFL so far this season, behind only a performance from the Bills’ Nathan Peterman in Week 1.For the season, he is completing 55 percent of his passes, has thrown three touchdowns to go with five interceptions and has lost three fumbles.Leftwich, Wilks hopes, can use his 10 years of NFL quarterbacking experience to connect with the 10th overall draft pick.It starts with protecting Rosen.Wilks admitted a banged up offensive line that was already struggling to protect the rookie may need to give more max-protection looks with help from tight ends and fullbacks. Arizona will consider using Rosen’s athleticism to run boot-legs and take pressure off the offensive line. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Due to protection issues, Wilks cited the inability of Rosen to go through his progressions as a key part in making the coordinator switch.The head coach, who said he left play-calling duties to McCoy and will do the same for Leftwich, has already talked to his new OC about taking the thinking away from Rosen.It’s not that McCoy put too much on Rosen, an intellectual player who Wilks again praised for being able to digest a lot.It’s that Wilks doesn’t want things to get lost in translation.Because overhauling the playbook at this point is out of the question, Leftwich will calls plays out of the same playbook that was constructed by McCoy heading into 2018. But Wilks wants to put Rosen — and his teammates — in better positions to succeed.“It’s not the mere fact of making it easier,” he said when asked if the team will pull back things to help Rosen. “And I told Byron this this morning. Josh is a very smart and intelligent guy. He can handle a lot.“I think it’s clarity. That’s what we need, and we didn’t have that.”Meanwhile, Arizona will continue searching for the production from Johnson that saw him chase the 1,000-1,000 rushing and receiving yard marks in 2016. Leftwich, a holdover from former coach Bruce Arians’ staff, saw first-hand how the Cardinals utilized the running back in both the run and pass games under the previous regime. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Top Stories Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more