5 of the BEST Sales Tips Ever

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five best sales tips 300x300 5 of the BEST Sales Tips Ever photoRecently I was talking to a group of college students regarding a sales career and they asked me what I thought were the best sales tips I’ve ever heard.

Here is what I said:

1. It’s not what you say; It’s what your customer believes.

You can have the best sales presentation in the world, but if the customer doesn’t believe your proposition, then you don’t have a chance.  Take the time to engage with the customer.

Ask them questions and let them tell you their wants and needs.  Yes, many times they don’t know what their needs are and you’ll have to guide them, but in the end, if they don’t believe it, you don’t have a chance.

2. Never go into a sales call not knowing how you’re going to close the sale.

If you don’t know where you’re going, then how will you get there?  The most common part left out of any presentation is the close.  Plan for it upfront by developing the strategy and your course of action.

This does not mean you’re only going to use one type of closing technique.  On the contrary, it means you’re going to be ready to close using several different techniques based on what the customer tells you.

3. Have a dedicated time set aside either daily or weekly to do your prospecting.

Too many salespeople find themselves spending far too much doing everything else but prospecting.  If you don’t schedule it and hold yourself accountable, you won’t do it.

4. Believe in yourself and what you’re doing to help your customers.

Why should anyone buy anything from anybody if the person from whom they are buying doesn’t even believe in it?   There’s a reason why confident salespeople are more successful.

5. Show up and show up on time.

More sales are lost because the salesperson either failed to show or failed to follow-through.  It’s a sad comment that something that basic and easy could deter more sales, but it’s a fact.  This is the main reason why when companies are looking for salespeople, I tell them to find candidates who have a proven track record of self-discipline.

If you were looking for a silver bullet sales technique, sorry you probably didn’t find it here.Then again, I don’t believe there are any silver bullets in sales.

It’s all about having the discipline to demonstrate to the customer that you care about them and their needs.

Were these the type of “best sales tips” the students were looking for?  Who knows?! Yes, they responded positively, but only time will tell if they took what I said to heart.

I’ll say this — based on the thousands of salespeople I’ve had the privilege to work with and train, I know without a doubt that if salespeople do these 5 things and do them well, they will have a high probability of achieving success.

10 Bizarre Interview Questions That Work

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A new survey reveals the best oddball questions that your interviewee has never heard before.

 

A good interview question can give you insight into a potential hire’s critical thinking process, communication skills, and ability to think and execute on their feet.

But with the the amount of prep they do these days, there’s a good chance that your candidate has probably already heard just about every question you’re about to ask them during their job interview.

Glassdoor.com recently compiled a list of the top 25 oddball questions that big businesses, including Amazon and Trader Joes, ask during their hiring interviews.

Here are 10 that will put your interviewee on their toes and hopefully give you a chance to see if they can think outside the box.

1. “If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?”  Asked at Forrester.

2. “What song best describes your work ethic?” Asked at Dell.

3. “Jess Bezos [or, our CEO] walks into your office and says you can have a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea.  What is it?”  Asked at Amazon.

4. “Name 3 previous Nobel Prize Winners.”  Asked at benefitsCONNECT.

5. “If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?” Asked atTrader Joe’s.

6. “My wife and I are going on vacation, where would you recommend?” Asked atPricewaterhouseCoopers.

7. “Calculate the angle of two clock pointer when the time is 11:50.” Asked at Bank of America.

8. “Have you ever stolen a pen from work?” Asked at Jiffy Software.

9. “If you had turned your cell phone to silent, and it rang really loudly despite it being on silent, what would you tell me?” Asked at Kimberly-Clark.

10. “On a scale from one to ten, rate me as an interviewer.” Asked at Kraft Foods.

8 Things Remarkably Successful People Do

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The most successful people in business work differently. See what they do–and why it works.

runner winning race

I’m fortunate to know a number of remarkably successful people. I’ve described how these people share a set of specific perspectives and beliefs.

They also share a number of habits:

1. They don’t create back-up plans.

Back-up plans can help you sleep easier at night. Back-up plans can also create an easy out when times get tough.

You’ll work a lot harder and a lot longer if your primary plan simply has to work because there is no other option. Total commitment–without a safety net–will spur you to work harder than you ever imagined possible.

If somehow the worst does happen (and the “worst” is never as bad as you think) trust that you will find a way to rebound. As long as you keep working hard and keep learning from your mistakes, you always will.

2. They do the work…

You can be good with a little effort. You can be really good with a little more effort.

But you can’t be great–at anything–unless you put in an incredible amount of focused effort.

Scratch the surface of any person with rare skills and you’ll find a person who has put thousands of hours of effort into developing those skills.

There are no shortcuts. There are no overnight successes. Everyone has heard about the 10,000 hours principle but no one follows it… except remarkably successful people.

So start doing the work now. Time is wasting.

3.  …and they work a lot more.

Forget the Sheryl Sandberg “I leave every day at 5:30” stories. I’m sure she does. But she’s not you.

Every extremely successful entrepreneur I know (personally) works more hours than the average person–a lot more. They have long lists of things they want to get done. So they have to put in lots of time.

Better yet, they want to put in lots of time.

If you don’t embrace a workload others would consider crazy then your goal doesn’t mean that much to you–or it’s not particularly difficult to achieve. Either way you won’t be remarkably successful.

4. They avoid the crowds.

Conventional wisdom yields conventional results. Joining the crowd–no matter how trendy the crowd or “hot” the opportunity–is a recipe for mediocrity.

Remarkably successful people habitually do what other people won’t do. They go where others won’t go because there’s a lot less competition and a much greater chance for success.

5. They start at the end…

Average success is often based on setting average goals.

Decide what you really want: to be the best, the fastest, the cheapest, the biggest, whatever. Aim for the ultimate. Decide where you want to end up. That is your goal.

Then you can work backwards and lay out every step along the way.

Never start small where goals are concerned. You’ll make better decisions–and find it much easier to work a lot harder–when your ultimate goal is ultimate success.

6. … and they don’t stop there.

Achieving a goal–no matter how huge–isn’t the finish line for highly successful people. Achieving one huge goal just creates a launching pad for achieving another huge goal.

Maybe you want to create a $100 million business; once you do you can leverage your contacts and influence to create a charitable foundation for a cause you believe in. Then your business and humanitarian success can create a platform for speaking, writing, and thought leadership. Then…

The process of becoming remarkably successful in one field will give you the skills and network to be remarkably successful in many other fields.

Remarkably successful people don’t try to win just one race. They expect and plan to win a number of subsequent races.

7. They sell.

I once asked a number of business owners and CEOs to name the one skill they felt contributed the most to their success. Each said the ability to sell.

Keep in mind selling isn’t manipulating, pressuring, or cajoling. Selling is explaining the logic and benefits of a decision or position. Selling is convincing other people to work with you. Selling is overcoming objections and roadblocks.

Selling is the foundation of business and personal success: knowing how to negotiate, to deal with “no,” to maintain confidence and self-esteem in the face of rejection, to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, to build long-term relationships…

When you truly believe in your idea, or your company, or yourself then you don’t need to have a huge ego or a huge personality. You don’t need to “sell.”

You just need to communicate.

8. They are never too proud.

To admit they made a mistake. To say they are sorry. To have big dreams. To admit they owe their success to others. To poke fun at themselves. To ask for help.

10 Leadership Lessons for Gen-Y

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It might be a brave new world, but an old-school approach to leadership still works. Take notes.

Wish I knew then what I know now.

You hear that sort of thing all the time; a lament to the wisdom that seems to come too late in life, or at least later than we’d like it to.

The current generation of up-and-comers certainly has its opportunities and its challenges. Having grown up with high-tech, they’re probably best suited to thrive in the brave new connected world. And I happen to think the digital revolution has only just begun.

On the other hand, the world is in the midst of cultural and economic upheaval. Perhaps that’s nothing new, but it is challenging, to say the least. There’s so much information, so many choices, so much distraction, just those things alone present more complexity than any generation has ever had to deal with.

That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that the wisdom that comes from real-world experience applies to anyone in any generation. At least, that’s the theory. Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned that I suspect will prove useful to the current generation of up-and-coming entrepreneurs and business leaders.

If you want to achieve great things, you have to do great work. If your goal is to just skate by in life, you can probably pull that off without much effort. But if you want to accomplish some great things that give your life meaning, you’ll have to do great work. You only get out of this life what you put into it.

Take big risks. Roll the dice. Dive into the deep end of the pool. Throw caution to the wind. Be fearless. Success in business and your career are a function of your willingness to face your fears and take chances. That simple but powerful truth is probably the most important piece of advice anyone can give you.

Always seek to broaden your experience. Perhaps the best decision I ever made was to spend the first decade of my career with large companies that trained and groomed me and opened my eyes to a world of disciplines, markets, and opportunities. That, I believe, improved my odds of success in the startup world immensely.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. There’s a certain time factor related to all goals, strategies, and achievements. The bigger the objective, the bolder the strategy, the more rewarding the accomplishment, the longer it takes, generally speaking. That runs contrary to our attention deficit culture and our growing addiction to instant gratification. You need to fight that real-time tug to achieve long-term results.

There’s a certain balance to the equation of life. In school, you learn that there’s symmetry in the world. Every force has an equal and opposite reaction. Chemical equations must balance. Supply and demand are intimately related. Life is no different. It’s full of tradeoffs and cause and effect relationships. You’ll never get something for nothing. Everything has a price. First you do the work, then you get rewarded. You give, then you get. Those equations appear throughout your career, your life, the business world, everything.

You probably take yourself too seriously. Children have enormous egos. They think everything revolves around them. That self-centered worldview is essential to survival. But in adulthood, it can be a real problem. Maturity is very much about developing empathy for others, about understanding their needs and wants, what drives and motivates them. It’s also key to effective business and working relationships.

Don’t make self-limiting assumptions based on limited experience. When you’re young, there’s a temptation to be headstrong, to make sweeping decisions based on limited information. For example, it’s popular these days to romanticize entrepreneurship, but it’s not for everyone. Keep your options open.

Don’t confuse freedom with entitlement. You’re actually entitled to very little in life, but it should be enough. America’s founding fathers were brilliant. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is phrased that way for a reason. With those basic building blocks, you’re free to pursue what you will. The rest is entirely up to you. Your happiness and success are in your hands–and only your hands.

Real success takes real relationships in the real world. The Internet definitely leveled the business playing field. And social networks enable you to connect with virtually anyone. As a result, you can make a few bucks generating Twitter followers for Lady Gaga or Honey Boo Boo by sitting at your computer at home. But if you have higher aspirations than that, you’ll need to develop real relationships with real people in real time.

Have faith that things will work out for you. Steve Jobs said it best in his 2005Stanford University commencement speech, “You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

One more thing. I wouldn’t think of depriving you all of learning these lessons in your own good time. If you want to throw caution to the wind as I suggested earlier, go ahead and hit “delete.” Be my guest. But there’s an old expression that I think still applies in our information society: “Forewarned is forearmed.” And, after all, you can never go back.

6 Habits of Remarkably Likeable People

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They’re charming. They’re genuine. And they can make an entire room full of people smile.

Johannesburg. Former American president Bill Clinton meets with Nelson Mandela to discuss their charitable organizations.

Johannesburg. Former American president Bill Clinton meets with Nelson Mandela to discuss their charitable organizations.

When you meet someone, after, “What do you do?” you’re out of things to say. You suck at small talk, and those first five minutes are tough because you’re a little shy and a little insecure.

But you want to make a good impression. You want people to genuinely like you.

Here’s how remarkably likeable people do it:

They lose the power pose.

I know: Your parents taught you to stand tall, square your shoulders, stride purposefully forward, drop your voice a couple of registers, and shake hands with a firm grip.

It’s great to display nonverbal self-confidence, but go too far and it seems like you’re trying to establish your importance. That makes the “meeting” seem like it’s more about you than it is the other person–and no one likes that.

No matter how big a deal you are you pale in comparison to say, oh, Nelson Mandela. So take a cue from him. Watch how he greets Bill Clinton, no slouch at this either.

Clinton takes a step forward (avoiding the “you must come to me” power move); Mandela steps forward with a smile and bends slightly forward as if, ever so slightly, to bow (a clear sign of deference and respect in nearly every culture); Clinton does the same. What you have are two important people who put aside all sense of self-importance or status. They’re genuine.

Next time you meet someone, relax, step forward, tilt your head towards them slightly, smile, and show that you’re the one who is honored by the introduction–not them.

We all like people who like us. If I show you I’m genuinely happy to meet you, you’ll instantly start to like me. (And you’ll show that you do, which will help calm my nerves and let me be myself.)

They embrace the power of touch.

Nonsexual touch can be very powerful. (Yes, I’m aware that sexual touch can be powerful too.) Touch can influence behavior, increase the chances of compliance, make the person doing the touching seem more attractive and friendly.

Go easy, of course: Pat the other person lightly on the upper arm or shoulder. Make it casual and nonthreatening.

Check out Clinton’s right-hand-shakes-hands-left-hand-touches-Mandela’s-forearm-a-second-later handshake in the link above and tell me, combined with his posture and smile, that it doesn’t come across as genuine and sincere.

Think the same won’t work for you? Try this: The next time you walk up behind a person you know, touch them lightly on the shoulder as you go by. I guarantee you’ll feel like a more genuine greeting was exchanged.

Touch breaks down natural barriers and decreases the real and perceived distance between you and the other person–a key component in liking and in being liked.

They whip out their social jiu-jitsu.

You meet someone. You talk for 15 minutes. You walk away thinking, “Wow, we just had a great conversation. She is awesome.”

Then, when you think about it later, you realize you didn’t learn a thing about the other person.

Remarkably likeable people are masters at Social Jiu-Jitsu, the ancient art of getting you to talk about yourself without you ever knowing it happened. SJJ masters are fascinated by every step you took in creating a particularly clever pivot table, by every decision you made when you transformed a 200-slide PowerPoint into a TED Talk-worthy presentation, if you do say so yourself…

SJJ masters use their interest, their politeness, and their social graces to cast an immediate spell on you.

And you like them for it.

Social jiu-jitsu is easy. Just ask the right questions. Stay open-ended and allow room for description and introspection. Ask how, or why, or who.

As soon as you learn a little about someone, ask how they did it. Or why they did it. Or what they liked about it, or what they learned from it, or what you should do if you’re in a similar situation.

No one gets too much recognition. Asking the right questions implicitly shows you respect another person’s opinion–and, by extension, the person.

We all like people who respect us, if only because it shows they display great judgment.

(Kidding. Sort of.)

They whip out something genuine.

Everyone is better than you at something. (Yes, that’s true even for you.) Let them be better than you.

Too many people when they first meet engage in some form of penis-measuring contest. Crude reference but one that instantly calls to mind a time you saw two alpha male master-of-the business-universe types whip out their figurative rulers. (Notliterally, of course. I hope you haven’t seen that.)

Don’t try to win the “getting to know someone” competition. Try to lose. Be complimentary. Be impressed. Admit a failing or a weakness.

You don’t have to disclose your darkest secrets. If the other person says, “We just purchased a larger facility,” say, “That’s awesome. I have to admit I’m jealous. We’ve wanted to move for a couple years but haven’t been able to put together the financing. How did you pull it off?”

Don’t be afraid to show a little vulnerability. People may be (momentarily) impressed by the artificial, but people sincerely like the genuine.

Be the real you. People will like the real you.

They ask for nothing.

You know the moment: You’re having a great conversation, you’re finding things in common… and then bam! Someone plays the networking card.

And everything about your interaction changes.

Put away the hard-charging, goal-oriented, always-on kinda persona. If you have to ask for something, find a way to help the other person, then ask if you can.

Remarkably likeable people focus on what they can do for you–not for themselves.

They “close” genuinely.

“Nice to meet you,” you say, nodding once as you part. That’s the standard move, one that is instantly forgettable.

Instead go back to the beginning. Shake hands again. Use your free hand to gently touch the other person’s forearm or shoulder. Say, “I am really glad I met you.” Or say, “You know, I really enjoyed talking with you.” Smile: Not that insincere salesperson smile that goes with, “Have a nice day!” but a genuine, appreciative smile.

Making a great first impression is important, but so is making a great last impression.

And they accept it isn’t easy.

All this sounds simple, right? It is. But it’s not easy, especially if you’re shy. The standard, power pose, “Hello, how are you, good to meet you, good seeing you,” shuffle feels a lot safer.

But it won’t make people like you.

So accept it’s hard. Accept that being a little more deferential, a little more genuine, a little more complimentary and a little more vulnerable means putting yourself out there. Accept that at first it will feel risky.

But don’t worry: When you help people feel a little better about themselves–which is reason enough–they’ll like you for it.

Deciding Whether Your Business Needs a Mobile App

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Mobile applications can be one of the best ways to keep your consumers engaged with your brand as they are on the move. But first you have to decide whether or not you actually need it. Here’s how to make that decision.

marilink via Flickr

“The mobile consumer is on the move, and marketers will have to learn how and where their customers aggregate in this new digital landscape.” – Chuck Martin

When Canadian pizza chain Pizza Pizzarolled out a mobile marketing strategy and accompanying mobile application in early 2011, they were already a few years behind the competition. In America, Domino’s Pizza had gained considerable press for their Pizza Tracker, which lets you see the progress of your order from the time you place it until it arrives at your door.  So what did Pizza Pizza, who operates 600 chains in Ontario, do? They streamlined both ordering and delivery, and encouraged consumers to use the application via an incentive-based system. After an early April launch, they reported meeting the six-month performance metrics in six weeks and won a Webby Award(honoring innovation in web and mobile) as a smartphone-shopping tool.

“When we first sat down with Pizza Pizza, they knew very little about mobile apps, because what they really know is pizza,” says Melody Adhami, co-founder of Plastic Mobile, the Toronto-based mobile experience and design agency who created the application. “We wanted to offer a totally immersed mobile experience that didn’t require consumers to leave the app, and to showcase what was already delicious food.”

Success stories like Pizza Pizza, while inspirational for many small businesses, are rather rare in the mobile application world, despite the explosion in the space. Late May stats (and a cool infographic) released by BuySellAds.com state that worldwide app revenue is set to hit $15.1 billion by the end of 2011, a 200% increase over 2010, while July research from Deloitte LLP says that 45% of smartphone users download a new app at least once a week. In the same Deloitte research, however, they found that 80% of the apps they reviewed had less than 1,000 downloads. So while the Apple App Store hit 15 billion downloads last month, it still has over 425,000 apps and growing that you need to set your app apart from.

“An application is in many ways a piece of software,” Adhami adds. “And to that point, it needs to be only a piece of your overall mobile marketing and advertising strategy to be successful. You need to be different and innovative to be successful.”

Developing a smartphone application can also be costly, so you need to ensure you do it right the first time to get repeat engagement and downloads. In this guide, we’ll explore what questions to ask before deciding to design an app, keys to successfully creating one that appeals to your consumers, how to measure success and some standard costs to consider.

What Questions to Ask Before Designing an App

“The mobile consumer is on the move, and marketers will have to learn how and where their customers aggregate in this new digital landscape,” writes Chuck Martin, also known as “the mobile evangelist, in his new book The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile. “This new wave of digital mobility is leading to what we call the untethered consumer, who are freed from the constraints of awaiting a broadcast message or any form of traditional online communication from a company.”

As you review your overall mobile marketing strategy, it is important to remember that it’s more than just building an application. An app can be a great engagement medium, but it isn’t necessarily the right solution for each business type and each business need. You need to evaluate those issues, listen to what your customers want, and then as Michael Becker and John Arnold write in Mobile Marketing for Dummies,ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I trying to reach the most people possible? According to recent numbers released by Pew Research, only 35% of Americans own a smartphone. While that is rather high and will only increase, that’s still 65% of consumers that can’t use an app. If you’re looking to reach the masses, you need to evaluate how many of your customers are actually using these devices, and if they are, which platforms (iPhone, Android, etc.) they prefer.

 

  • Do you need a mobile app or mobile Web site? “It really comes down to budgets and again, determining where your customers are,” says Adhami. “If you don’t have a budget to build an app, don’t do it just for the sake of having an application. If mobile advertising would work best, go with that. If enhancing your mobile site is easier, do that first, because it works across the many different smartphone platforms. If you’re not targeting or tailoring your solution to your business and your customers, it has very little value.”

 

  • Do you have the time to do the care and feeding of a mobile app? An app is not like a microsite you can take down in a few months. The applications that do best in the market demand your users to come back over and over again, and that requires you to refresh and develop new content. If you can’t do that, you won’t get repeat visitors and your app will end up losing.

 

  • What phones do your customers use? You may need to develop a variety of apps for different platforms, dependent upon where your customers are. Companies that develop their first app for every platform are not recognizing where their customers are and where their business will fit in best.

“Even if you think you have a great idea for an application, that’s such a small part of the equation,” says Professor Rahul Mangharam, the chair of Electric & Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science, which has a Masters and Undergraduate program focused on developing businesses and applications. “Whether it’s a student or company, it’s easy to forget about what you’re really trying to achieve with the app because you become so focused on the actual look and feel. The best applications don’t just look good, they actually solve a problem or simplify life for the mobile consumer.”

6 Things Really Productive People Do

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Have you noticed that some people just seem to accomplish tons and still appear happy and relaxed? Here are six tips for becoming more productive.

Productive woman working while on a treadmill

People often ask me, amazed, how I manage to do so many things. Aside from writing two columns every week, I speak regularly, travel, create videos, manage my business, write books, consult with five companies, network, socialize, cycle, run, read, cook, sleep six to seven hours a night and have dates with my wife. Oh yeah, I watch a lot of television while hanging out with my dog as well.

Okay, I know it sounds ridiculous. But accomplishing my preferred futurerequires this level of activity. I have the same 24 hours in a day that you do, but I have made specific choices that allow me to make the most of every day, and still feel happy and relaxed. Perhaps these tips will help you make the most of your time as well.

1. Pick Your Priorities

Make choices about the activities in your life. With most endeavors, you can either go deep or go wide. Focus on spending time that for you is fun and productive. If you like big families, have them, but recognize up front that kids require time and you’ll have to choose a lifestyle that supports quality time with them, for you to feel satisfied. I chose the life of a consultant because I like to work with companies, but don’t want the life of a big company CEO. My choices are based on the lifestyle I want.

2. Go For Efficiency

You don’t do everything well. The things you do well usually give you greater joy and require less time. Don’t take on something with a steep learning curve if you don’t have the available bandwidth. Design your life to meet your wants, and recognize when to say no to opportunities that are outside the scope of your desires.

3. Integrate Your Activities

Many people go crazy trying to figure out how to spend time with friends, family, work, play, etc.  Stop trying to balance time between them all. Find ways to enjoy them in a combined manner. Build your social life around people in your work environment. Find people in your company who share common interests and develop your career around the people and activities you love. If everything is out of synch to the point where you feel pulled and stressed, a change is likely imminent one way or another.

4. Actively Manage Time-wasters

Social media, family, friends, employees, co-workers and general whiners all under certain circumstances can suck precious time from you if you let them. Budget your time for necessary activities. Make a choice to limit non-supportive interactions that don’t energize you. As for social media, it can easily be a black hole for time and productivity. Use it appropriately and sparingly as a tool to support your endeavors and social needs, but lay off the Farmville.

5. Be an Active Learner

You would think learning takes more time from you, but actually there are always new tools and new ways of doing things that can save you time on mundane tasks freeing you up for your priorities. Always be looking for a new way to gain back an hour here or there. Just try it and dump it quick if it starts to drag on.

6. Lighten Up

No need to beat yourself up if you can’t do all the things you want because you are handling other stuff that needs attention. It happens. The world won’t come to an endin most cases just because you left a few things undone. Celebrate progress and keep refining toward a happy productive existence. This is why making lists and crossing off items is a staple in any productivity handbook. Every completion is a small victory that adds up in a big way.