Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Neen James: Legendary Leader Interview

Cliff Jones: Hello everybody, Cliff, Jones with Harvey Mackay Academy, and we’re thrilled to have Neen James with us today. Nene, welcome.

Neen James: Good day! What a treat it is to serve all the wonderful people that are in the Academy.

Cliff Jones: Well Neen, thank you for being with us. Neen is an author and speaker, extraordinaire. Author of the book, attention pays how to drive product profitability, keyword productivity, and I love accountability, productivity, profitability, productivity, accountability. So Neen, we’re here to talk about attention, why you chose to focus on attention or the lack there of clearly you’re committed to changing the lives of many people as you travel around the world, speaking to large companies, why’d you pick attention and why is that such a big deal today?

Neen James: You know, I think what’s happening is we’re living in an attention deficit society. People are suffering from being overwhelmed, overstressed are over tired. In our book that you mentioned, Attention Pays, they call this the other, the trilogy where what’s happening is people are struggling to get anything done. Companies are not making the money that they need to make. They’re losing their top talent and what’s happening is when you think about how this impacts us personally, professionally and globally, I realized my work was always in the area of productivity, could be, you know, and I know that Harvey and all of the team there you are always focused on making sure that we get the most done, but that we focus on the right things and I realized you can’t manage time, but you can manage your attention, and then I realized that’s what we mean, so we need to move from an attention deficit society to an attention surplus economy. And in the book we talk about exactly how to do that.

Cliff Jones: So you start off with part one. Does attention pay take us through part one of the book because there are four key three key parts to the bar.

Neen James: Think about the fact that when it comes to the benefits of paying attention, when we pay attention, companies make more money. Entrepreneurs increase their particular client or footprint. We’re able to attract and retain the top talent. We have deeper relationships with people. We take care of the planet on which we live. There are so many benefits to paying attention. We can negotiate deeper connections with our vendors, they’re more responsive to us. We can have a fabulous relationships with our family and our friends. We can make a greater contribution in our community. And what I realized was this sudden many benefits to attention and that’s when we really came up with this. Now there’s a major cost when you don’t pay attention, Clifford, which we started to talk about. The fact that nine people die every day because of distracted driving. That’s crazy. When you think about our devices, our cell phones and devices, technology is not the enemy of our attention. We are. And we have to consider how do we truly pay attention to what matters. You know, cliff, and I wonder if some of your people would be surprised to learn. We touch our cell phones on average 2,617 times a day. That’s crazy. According to D Scan in 2016, the study that they released, that’s how many times on average we touch it. There are so many reasons why we need to get attention to pay, but it starts with us as leaders. It starts with really thinking about attention and maybe three ways personally. It’s about who deserves your attention. That’s very much about being thoughtful. Professionally, it’s about what deserves your attention, which is about being productive, and then the third way we pay attention is globally. That’s about how you’re paying attention in the world and that’s about being responsible. Personally, professionally and globally, and when we pay attention, attention pays.

Cliff Jones: I love that. You also talk about listening as part of the equation. Third Chapter and and talk to our listeners are listening.

Neen James: Know I was reminded about the value of attention from my five year old friend. I was simply sitting next door in the kitchen of my friend Eileen and she has three boys in our attempts to have a cup of coffee and the challenge was done it in a five year old. Kept inserting himself into the conversation and anyone who’s watching or listening to this knows exactly what I’m talking about. And he kept asking me all these questions and I thought I was answering him, but not to his satisfaction. But then he got so annoyed at me, he was like, Neen, you’re not listening to me. He got so mad. He jumped into my lap, he grabbed my face in his tiny little hands and he turned it towards him and he said me listen with your eyes. I mean, seriously. I mean, that’s amazing to me. And so it really challenged everything. And I think we as leaders need to listen with eyes more. He reminded me, Cliff, and we don’t just listen without is we listen with our eyes. We listen with that hot. We listened without so. And he has taught me that valuable lesson and probably one of the most quoted, most tweeted lines of every keynote I do. No matter where I am in the world is Donovan’s brilliance, when he told me to listen with eyes.

Cliff Jones: I love that line. Listen with my eyes TM. It’s a great line. Second part of the book. You talk about being thoughtful. Tell everybody the context of thoughtfulness as it relates to attention and getting better results, productivity.

Neen James: If you think about the three ways we pay attention, I mentioned personally, professionally in globally. If we focus on personal attention first, this is truly about who deserves your attention. This is absolutely about being thoughtful. I love a good system. I think systems create freedom, and so I created this term called systemized thoughtfulness. Now I’m saying, systemize, not systematized. It’s the other way to say it. No extra t required, so systemized, thoughtfulness. Now what this is about, it’s about making time in time to let people know that they matter to you, to give them your undivided attention. So let’s talk about some easy ways you could do that as a business owner, easy ways for systemized thoughtfulness. Look across all of the touch points you have with the particular clients that you serve and then look to see are there ways you can really personalize that. Systemized thoughtfulness is the simplicity of using people’s names. Whether it is your team members, whether it’s people in a tele conference, whether it is your client, when you need them, maybe it’s your barista when they hand you your coffee in the morning, but consider using people’s names. I think one of the systems that I’ve had in my entire life when anyone is in a place of service, my security guards, receptionists, waiters, people who bag our groceries, whenever I can, I always use the name because what I’ve noticed is that people kind of light up when they hear their name right and so it very, very easy system is used. People’s names so much more than other systems that I have in place and many of my clients have taken on board as a result of me working with them is always carrying stamped stationary. The power of just writing a hand written note. You and I know how powerful that is and how people remember that kindness in a digital world. I believe analog systems get attention and so hand writing a note to a team member to a client, to thank them for their business, to housekeeping, if you stay in a hotel, and thank them for taking care of you, I always, always write hand written notes. Even love notes to my husband, when I leave, I travel, you know, I’m basically paid to travel and spend all my time in airports, convention centers and hotels and when I leave I make sure I leave little notes around the house for my husband. Now he likes it. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I do know that it makes him smile and reminds him I’m thinking about him when I’m away. I have parents that I know that notes in their lunchboxes of the children that end so that when they opened their lunch, they have that little reminder someone’s thinking about them. Systemized thoughtfulness is that looking for ways and creating systems so that you can do it on a regular basis. For example, because I fly so much, as soon as the, uh, I sit on an airplane seat, I stopped texting clients and people that are important to me just to let them know that I’m thinking about and those texts at the airport. It’s an automatic part of my travel routine. Systemized thoughtfulness is about finding ways to make people realize they met it to you.

Cliff Jones: You practice much of what Harvey Mackay himself has practiced and taught for many years, way beyond the Mackay 66 where what you’re talking about, it’s a caring, thoughtful acts, often random, right? You go into productivity and you talked about significant moments. Teach us significant moments in why they’re important at home, at work. Everywhere we go,

Neen James: You know, I think that random acts of kindness that wouldn’t it be better to have systemized thoughtfulness when it be better to have things you do every single day and to truly focus on what matters. We need to consider how we’re investing our time because you and I get the same assignment and the amazing thing about time is you and I get 1000, 440 minutes in a day. It doesn’t matter anyone listening to this, doesn’t matter how old they are, how young layout, what’s printed on their business card. Maybe they didn’t even have a business. It doesn’t matter because time’s going to have a load that we like it or not. Time is the great equalizer, but I do believe we have a responsibility to make the most of the time on this planet. So one of the ways that people can consider another system is to create a strategic appointment with yourself.

Neen James: So every day, 15 minutes in an appointment with yourself, and here’s what I’d like people to do. I’d love you to invest 15 minutes to identify your top three, not negotiable activities. So before your head hits the pillow tonight. What’s your top three? Not negotiable. Must get done activities today. Now I have tried every system, paper, digital, I’ve tried everything. You know, the way that I manage mine, it’s a simple little posts and what I do is I write on my post at night today I will because I’m making a commitment to myself. It’s an agreement. It’s a contract that I’m basically signing that says today I will, and then I write down my three, not negotiables.

Neen James: And the reason I chose a post it note, I love the satisfaction of crossing something off my list, but I also believe that it is a decision filtering system. When I look at that little post it note, it reminds me to stay on track because I can stick it on anything. I can take it with me to all my meetings. I can take it on the plane. That silly little post-it note helps drive my behavior so that I remain accountable for what I said I would do at the beginning of the day, so consider if you want to be more productive, looking at time in 15 minute increments and have one strategic appointments with yourself every day for just 15 minutes to identify your top three. Not negotiable activities.

Cliff Jones: Alright, fourth part of the book, global responsibility impact. So three major power words, concepts. Talk us through the fourth section of the book and how it relates to goal, responsibility and attention.

Neen James: Yes, so the attention style is global attention, which is about how you pay attention in the world. It’s about being responsible. Now, not everyone is a green peace, card carrying, Tesla driving, recycler that’s listening to this and that’s okay. Maybe the planet is not your passion. However, we have a responsibility to make the most of the resources that we’re given and I believe that we all serve, whether it is serving in our community, in our church, our temple, the synagogue, and taking care of the planet that we have, and so to me, global attention is about standing in your community. What are some things you need to pay attention to in your community? It could be that there’s an opportunity to serve in your school or be involved in shelters or in community gardens. I do believe that we have a responsibility globally to take care of the limited resources we have, which means the simplicity of implementing recycling programs that your office having, recycling trash cans at home and showing and role modeling to others. The importance of not wasting resources. So me being Australian, I think this is very near and dear to my heart and also a huge animal lover. I want to make sure that we protect the planet that we have so that my God will be able to meet these species and see these animals that are slowly becoming extinct because we are not paying attention to the way we’re using our resources and the way we are clearing things. So what I would love individuals to think about is what can they personally to pay attention to the community in which they live, to the planet on which we live and that sometimes it’s just little tiny things that make a big impact.

Cliff Jones: Neen James, author of Attention Pays, speaker, reviewing your book, four parts, 177 pages, eight chapters, all about how paying attention, listening with our eyes helps us basically be more profitable, more productive, and more accountable. I love the third one because when we’re talking about team and teamwork and hiring all the things that leaders, you’re in front of Fortune 1000, the biggest companies to the smallest companies, entrepreneurs. This impacts everybody, doesn’t it?

Neen James: It does and I believe that accountability is really a core responsibility we all have, and so it could be as simple as staying accountable to yourself, making that daily commitment to get things done. It might be accountability to your team and making sure you’re all working towards the most impactful activities that will help you achieve your team objectives. Maybe it’s being accountable to another person. Maybe you’re in a relationship and this certain accountabilities you put in place. A very simple thing I’ve done my whole career is I’ve always had an accountability partner, so my accountability partner, what I do is every Monday I sent him a list of goals that I will achieve this week. It focuses on both personal and professional. On Friday, I email her the results of everything that I said I would do. Now you and I both know that often happens in let’s say January. People make those crazy new year’s resolutions to get fit and so they have these great aspirations. I live on the east coast, it’s cold in January, and so what often happens is people set these great NYE resolutions where they’re going to stuck getting fit and they join a gym and for the first few days a week into it, it’s cold outside. They hit the snooze button and they don’t want to go to the gym, but the difference is this, when people tell a friend, they’ll meet them at the gym crazy early in the morning, they are less likely to cancel because they’re making themselves accountable to someone else. Even though they’ll break a commitment to themselves by telling someone else that you’ll meet them at the gym. You are less likely to cancel. I truly believe in accountability. I believe public accountability drives private accountability. When you declare to someone what you want to be held accountable for, you are more likely to put the time and attention that is required to achieve that.

Neen James: You can believe that I do not want to send my accountability partner on Friday an empty email and I definitely don’t want to have to explain to her that I didn’t do what I said I would do. So what we need to think about is how can you build accountability into your life? How can you get your little people to be more accountable? How can you get your leaders to be more accountable? How can you get more accountability in your community, your church or Temple or synagogue, your school? I believe accountability drives results. When we tell people what we’re going to pay attention to and then we deliver on that. Obviously companies make more money. Obviously you get more done and definitely become more accountable

Cliff Jones: In your work, as you sell lots of books and speak to corporate leaders and employees around the world. Is there one particular pearl of wisdom, Harvey Mackay would call them a “street smart” that our listeners or viewers could take away with them today. We do tell them how to get ahold of you and all your book.

Neen James: I repeat what we talked about before and that is you can’t manage time but you can manage your attention. It’s about the choices we make and the actions we take. I believe when leaders choose to invest their attention personally, professionally, in globally, we make a greater impact on the climate.

Cliff Jones: Okay. Well thank you for that. And Neen, how do people get Ahold of you for speaking engagements? How do we get ahold of you to buy the book?

Neen James: We are so fortunate that there’s only one Neen James Online, so if you go to Neen James.com, you’ll find everything about me. You can follow me on social media and if you really want to see my advantage, you can follow me on instagram. The book is available everywhere where your favorite books ourselves and at the moment, at the time of recording it is most cost effective to it through Amazon, but we also set up some special resources for people in the academy, so I’m sure you will make those available to people as well.

Cliff Jones: Absolutely. Well Neen. Will you come back and see us sometime?

Neen James: Thank you so much for having me as part of this amazing community. I love the work you’re all doing in the world.

Cliff Jones: Well Neen, thanks for being with us. We’ll see you soon. Thank you.

Neen James: Thank you.

About the Author Harvey Mackay, Founder & CEO

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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