068: Lack of information is Costing You

068: Lack of information is Costing You

Twice recently I was invited to a meeting via email. The invitation had a title for the meeting, but there was no further information about the reason for the meeting.

Please don’t do this. I’m begging you on behalf of your team members.

Whether it’s a meeting you’ve planned or an email that’s not telling the whole story or something visual you’ve posted.

Lack of information is costing you.

It’s costing you and your team time, because people want to know what the meeting is about. Their time is valuable and they don’t want to commit to something that maybe they could skip and answer questions about instead.

It’s costing you and your team morale. It’s just defeating to read an email or get a meeting invite or see some posting on a wall that is missing key information that could have been added but wasn’t. Some people will do the extra work to try to find out the missing details. Others will just try to fill in the blanks themselves. Some will just chalk it up to more miscommunication.

Every time anyone in your organization is going to print something or plan a meeting or send an email, make it the company norm to do a 15 second review before they send or have someone else look at it. You could have designated proofreaders and even if they are remote from each other they could do a quick screenshare and catch each other’s missing info.

Bottom line is that things like this seem small but can cause a lot of hidden issues that you may never see.

And the worst part is they’re usually preventable.

So, next time you’re going to send out a meeting invite and it’s just called “changes” with no more description… you might want to elaborate on that before everyone goes nuts.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode. If you’ve been enjoying these one of the best thing you can do is tell a fellow entrepreneur or business leader. You spreading the word helps me help more people. Thanks so much.

052: What Podcast Editing Can Teach Us About Communication

052: What Podcast Editing Can Teach Us About Communication

Have you ever recorded a podcast episode?

There are a ton of podcasts out there in the world today.  I’m not sure how many, but I know that chances are some of my listeners have their own podcast. As an aside, if you’re ever interested or think you have something you’d like to share with the world via podcast, I’d love to talk to you about it.

If you’ve ever recorded your own and then edited it, you’ve had the chance to see what a waveform looks like.

When you record your audio into an audio editing program, it creates a visual waveform that is a translation of sorts of what you just spoke into your microphone.

It’s really powerful, because it lets you see pauses in the conversation, spikes in the volume and more. In fact, the more you get into it, you can even get to where you can start to identify actual patterns, like a lip smack or an “um” or  an inhale. It makes me think of the movie The Matrix where they watch these green rows of characters scroll down the screen but are able to translate those in their minds into a park bench or a steak or… bacon.

Anyway, I don’t edit my current podcast very much but recently I was thinking about how difficult it would be to try to do any editing if the waveform was just a straight line.

If you were trying to find specific spot in an interview or conversation, the whole thing would look the same and it would make it very difficult.

That’s one of the reasons why the visual waveform is so powerful.

And the idea carries of over to your business as well.

So, I’ve talked before about the power of visual communication in the workplace.

It’s one of those things that I’m really wired for and passionate about.

The more visual you can make things, the easier for everyone to know a status or communicate in the same way.

This can be using project management tools that let you know what is due next, or conditional formatting (one of my favorite Excel features) in Excel to highlight cells that meet a certain criteria.

It could be clearly marking where physical things should go on your desk or on a manufacturing floor, so that if the space is empty or the wrong thing is there, you can see it without too much searching.

It can even be including a screenshot of a dashboard of an Excel file that is sent out to a large distribution list, allowing people who only need that basic information to get it without opening the file itself, while others can dig deeper if they’d like.

The key is to take some time to try to identify areas where either a lot of miscommunication is happening or if there unnecessary effort being put in to get answers to questions that could have been answered by more visual posting or communication in your organization.

I will keep coming back around to this one because I’ve seen what can happen over and over when miscommunication or not enough communication happens.

So, why not ask some of your team members today where they have seen miscommunication or extra work happening and let them get creative about how to solve it with visual communication.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode. I’d love hear from you about today’s topic or just in general. You can shoot me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com or head to shawnwashburn.com/contact and you’ll find links to connect with me on social media as well.

038: Kent Sanders – 3 Killer Email Tips

038: Kent Sanders – 3 Killer Email Tips

On today’s episode, I’m excited to introduce the first of many guest answers.

Today’s guest is my good friend Kent Sanders. Kent is a ghostwriter and host of the Daily Writer podcast. He is a gifted writer and his podcast is a great source of daily encouragement, inspiration and wisdom for anyone who wants to grow in their writing. Kent’s also just a great guy as well.

Today’s topic is email. Email, though it can be a powerful communication tool, can also be a struggle sometimes and make itself a bigger hassle than it’s worth. I asked Kent for some tips that can help business leaders be more effective in their email writing. Here’s what he said:


I really appreciated Kent’s tips and they already gave me some things to think about as I thought back on some of the emails I sent out this past week… and cringed a little bit :).

I encourage you to check out Kent’s podcast, The Daily Writer, on your favorite podcast player. I like it because it’s just a few minutes each day but he always has something new and thought provoking to share. And if you’d like a good community to help you go deeper with your writing, check out his Daily Writer Community out at dailywriterlife.com

Thanks for listening to today’s episode. You can shoot me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com.

I’d love to connect: website / LinkedIn / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

020: Can You Hear Me?

020: Can You Hear Me?

Listening is one of the best skills you can develop. Being a great listener can value your team while also encouraging creativity, new thinking and new ideas. 

In episode 5 we poked a little fun at the phrase of the year: “You’re on mute”

Even just that phrase still makes me smile a little bit honestly. I can picture the mouth moving and everyone scrambling to unmute themselves so that they can tell the muted one that they are, in fact, muted.

But today we’re going to talk about some ways that we might be actually muting others around us without realizing it.

Their mouths are moving but we’re not hearing anything. We’re not listening.

To me, one of the top skills you can have as a business leader is to be a good listener. And I don’t just mean someone that people talk to. I mean, someone that really listens.

To be a good listener means that you are approachable. It means that people know that you value them and what they have to share… even if it’s hard to hear.

Being a good listener isn’t asking for an opinion and then letting your team member speak while the whole time you’re secretly holding your own answer behind your back ready to pounce it on them.

Being a good listener is being curious. Being willing to acknowledge that you might be wrong, that you might not be able to see the whole picture.

I heard a great quote from Andy Stanley years back. He said that “leaders who don’t listen will soon be surrounded by people with nothing to say.”

I remember hearing that and having to think that one through again. But it is dead on and I’ve seen it happen.

If people don’t feel like their opinions and thoughts and ideas are truly valued, then eventually they might try to find a place where they are.

And then all that will be left are people who just repeat back what has been said before.

So, if you really want to not only help your business thrive but also to bring out the best in your team members, put in the work to become a better listener.

It may take time. And if your people haven’t been used to being asked for their ideas and really listened to, it may take some time for them to trust they this time it’s different.

Maybe you could start this week and invite a few members of your team in for a meeting with no agenda other than to just hear from them. Let them know that you want to honestly hear how things are going for them, what frustrations they have, struggles, roadblocks to success. 

Ask them what ideas they have about making things better… and let them finish, even if you don’t believe they are things you can do right now. That can come later, but you’ll miss out on so many great ideas and empowering your team if you shoot down ideas from the get go or if they feel like it’s not even worth sharing.

Every person on your team is asking this same question: “Can you hear me?… do you want to hear me?”

I believe your answer is yes, because you care about each one of them…  and you also want the business to grow as well.

So un-mute your team this week and let them speak what they’ve been dying to say… unless, of course that lawnmower is still blaring in the background… 

017: You Know What They Say About Assumptions

017: You Know What They Say About Assumptions

Assumptions… they usually get a bad rap.   But today we’re going to dig a little deeper and see how they can actually help us if we use them wisely   

You know what happens when you assume, right? You make an…

Yeah, well, I’ll actually let YOU finish that sentence on your own. And… if you don’t know what I’m talking about, head over to the Google after this and just search for “when you assume”.

Now, I’m here to shed a little more light on assumptions.

Obviously, they have a PR problem. I mean, imagine if whenever anyone mentioned you, the first thing that popped into their head was that something really bad happens whenever you’re around.

Yeah, that’s what it’s like for assumptions.

They have to live with this dark cloud hanging over their very existence.

And I get it. Usually, when they’re around bad stuff happens.

But I want to dig a little bit deeper into assumptions today.

I’d like to propose that they actually can have a lot of value, but that they have to be used wisely.

You see, assumptions are sort of like a short cut.

When you say that you assumed something, you are basically saying that you took a short cut in your thinking or investigating or conversations.

As the saying goes, maybe you even “jumped to conclusions”.

But honestly, we assume things all the time. And if we didn’t life would grind to a halt.

We take calculated risks, we believe certain things to be true about the world around us.

We assume that our house isn’t going to fall apart today or that the milk that was perfectly fine in our refrigerator yesterday hasn’t totally turned to curdled yuck overnight. That we weren’t on mute when we chimed in with that perfectly timed response in our zoom call.

There are things that we assume every day… but we just don’t call them assumptions.

What I would like to propose is that most assumptions are fine… they just need to be interrogated. They need to be sat down in that dark room with the spotlight on them. And then we need to ask them some really tough questions.

If we’re willing to do this, then assumptions can actually be good. They can be beneficial. They can save us time.

If you question an assumption and it can’t give you a solid answer, then you need to do more work on your part.

For example, let’s say you have a big meeting coming up with a customer. You set it up weeks ago and you need to make sure that they will be present.

But you haven’t had any communication with them recently about it.

You have a choice to make. You can either assume that all is good on their end. Or, you can just shoot them an email to make sure that they are still good for the meeting. 

An email that might take you a few minutes but could save a ton of waste and add tension to the relationship if they didn’t show.

Maybe they had emailed you last Tuesday saying that they had to reschedule but it got lost in your inbox. Or maybe they never got the initial request. Or maybe something else urgent has come up and they were so consumed with it that they had forgotten about the meeting.

Whatever the reason, if you have any uneasiness in your gut or if there might be a big downside to a potential miscommunication, then it’s worth your time to just check in and make sure everyone’s on the same page.

We’ve all experienced the bad side of assumptions and have been burnt by not interrogating ours or we’ve burnt someone else.

But together, you and I can help change the face of assumptions. Using them for good, instead of evil.

Try looking at them a little differently this week and how, when used well, they can actually be something positive.

Maybe the new phrase could be “You know what happens when you use assumptions wisely? You and I save a lot of time and energy!”

OK, so maybe that one needs a little work.

I hope you’ve been getting value from these episodes. If you have, I’d love it if you left a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite player. It truly means a lot and lets me help even more people. Thanks so much.