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With all the trendy new words floating around like turnt, savage and selfie… we figured we’d join the club with PROF. Even not knowing what it means, you gotta admit, it sounds pretty cool. So go ahead and ask the person sitting next to you if they’re PROF (preferably followed by ‘bruh’ if you want to be extra trendy). You’ll enjoy a nice confused reaction.

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This shit is about to get real. So buckle up or something.
I scrambled to make sure the audio and video were working. It was the first webinar I had ever done in my life… in fact, I didn’t even know webinars were still around! The Chief Technology Officer stared at me like I was the most incompetent person he’d ever worked with as he waited to give his presentation. I’d only worked at this company for six months and I was already being loaded with extra responsibilities during a period of rapid growth. Growing pains they said….
We’d been given two weeks to find a webinar solution (that was free), learn how to use it, initiate an email campaign to attract viewers, and prepare a presentation for the audience we generated. Simple, right? Our boss seemed to think so… (but us marketers know better).
Our marketing team at the time only had two full-time employees and we had a ton of tasks to complete on top of this new webinar assignment. We did our best… but by the time we needed to start, we only had 12 viewers and we were having some serious technical difficulties. We had three different computers hooked up to the webinar platform we were using to try and coordinate responsibilities.
At one point in time, the audio completely cut out and our audience messaged us to let us know they could no longer hear the presentation. My manager ran out of the room to try and fix the problem. Luckily… they solved the problem and the audio was working again.
My manager was so excited and relieved, he stood up and shouted to the entire office:


To our dismay, we noticed that my manager’s computer wasn’t on mute when he made his proclamation. It was a disaster and no one in the audience ended up making a purchase. At this point, you’re probably wondering when we’ll explain what being PROF has to do with any of this.

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PROF is indeed an acronym, with the first word being PURPOSEFUL.
As I reflected on this webinar experience, I realized we were missing the first ingredient of PROF. What was the purpose of the webinar? Why did it need to be launched so quickly? What was the product we were trying to sell? Who was our audience?
The software development team had recently created a new feature within our platform and the sales team was salivating at the chance to reel in more clients. Unfortunately, that was the core purpose of the webinar. Instead of taking advantage of an opportunity to educate our clients and provide valuable content, we were treating our audience like dollar signs.
Ultimately, the webinar could have waited until the development team and marketing team were fully prepared to present the new feature.

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Are you Purposeful?

Have you ever sat through a long, boring meeting and wondered at the end… why didn’t they just send out an email? Recognizing situations without a clear purpose is the first step to being PROF.
This can be a challenge when your boss is constantly piling onto your list of tasks, or when the CEO is determined to create a viral video (for no apparent reason). If you often find yourself in a situation where you are simply doing as you’re told, it’s time to change. When your boss asks you to complete a task, ask these questions:

What is the end goal of this assignment?

i.e. if we had asked that before we simply completed the webinar, we would have discovered the purpose was to immediately increase sales. If the purpose was to increase sales, we could have argued that we needed more time to send emails, develop a follow-up campaign, test the new feature to ensure a good user experience, etc.

What is the priority level on a scale of 1 to 10?

If you simply ask, is this a priority? Your boss will always say yes… or else they wouldn’t be asking you to complete the task. But when you ask them to put it on a scale, you can determine if this is a passing thought vs. a pressing issue. And don’t be afraid to ask why if they respond with a high priority level that doesn’t make any sense. Make sure they understand that top priority means that you drop all other current projects to complete their request. Then see if they still think it’s worth it.

How urgent is this assignment?

Does it need to be done immediately? Will it be successful if you rush through it, simply because your boss said to do it? What do you have to sacrifice to make sure the assignment is done well? Usually, when something is extremely urgent, you sacrifice quality. Sometimes this situation can’t be avoided, but these questions will improve the planning process for future events.
And keep in mind, this post isn’t just to provide ammunition for disgruntled employees. If you happen to BE the boss… ask yourself these questions when you have an idea. Then make sure to share the purpose with your employees and gain their feedback. You’ll find that people are much more willing to respond to a call to action when they know the end goal.

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After you’ve determined you have a clear purpose behind a particular task or idea, the next step is to set REALISTIC timelines and expectations.
Wow… the rushed webinar was about as far from realistic as possible. Two weeks to complete a webinar? With no prior webinar experience?? A more realistic timeline probably would’ve been closer to six weeks to properly prepare for a successful and effective event. It would’ve given us time to find a webinar platform and practice using it, establish a sign-up campaign, prepare a follow-up strategy, determine how we would repurpose the webinar, etc.

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Are you Realistic?

In order to be realistic with your timelines, you need to understand all the components of your project or assignment. As we all know, it’s a delicate balance between speed and quality. So try to find your sweet spot by asking these questions:

How long does this particular assignment usually take?

Make sure everyone knows what to expect. If we know a webinar takes at least six weeks, everyone can be aware of the timeline and plan accordingly. If it’s your first time and you’re not sure how long it will take, it’s better to undersell and overdeliver. Always give yourself more time to do it well instead of finishing it quickly to try and impress your boss.

What other projects are currently ongoing?

Even if you agree with the purpose of a project, it’s important to take a step back and see where it would fit best within your busy schedule. Maybe it’s more realistic to push a project deadline out further so you can target your client’s ideal buying cycle.
Again… these questions apply to employers just as much as employees. Don’t overwhelm your employees. Give them assignments and trust their experience and expertise to determine realistic deadlines for their own projects. You’ll be surprised how often your team will impress you if you empower them to do their jobs.

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So now you are PURPOSEFUL and REALISTIC with your project… now it’s time to get ORGANIZED.
When we were still in the planning stages of the webinar, we didn’t do a very good job of organizing the event. Obviously. We didn’t coordinate with the CTO, we had overlapping responsibilities, multiple technical difficulties, and we had no pre or post-webinar strategy.

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Are you Organized?

Are saying to yourself, ‘Oh, well I’m just not an organized person because of my personality, blah, blah, blah…’ Just stop. Organization is a skill that can be learned by anyone. Yes, it does come more naturally to some, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon developing this skill if it’s more challenging for you.
Now getting organized is MUCH easier if you have the right tools along the way. For instance, at Slopes Marketing we like to use Asana to make sure we keep track of all of our tasks, collaborate with the team, and complete projects on time. Although it’s not a requirement, I would highly recommend looking into some form of online task management tool to keep everyone on the same page. I promise if you follow these steps, you will find that you execute projects more efficiently. If you’re already doing this… good work! Keep doing it!

Create a list of assignments required to complete a project

Live Webinar
  1. Research target audience
  2. Develop messaging
  3. Prepare deliverables to be available during the presentation for download
  4. Create email campaign (4 emails sent to the database prior to launch)
As you can see, a lot more goes into a project than you might think. So take the time to think of every possible task that you would need to have the perfect project. Imagine the end product and work backward, writing every step along the way.

Delegate responsibilities and set deadlines

If you’re a one-man show… this step may not apply. But if you work with a team, sit down with them and determine everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. When you let your team decide which tasks they’d like to complete, they are more likely to succeed (because chances are, they’ll choose the tasks they’re more comfortable with).
Everyone on the team should be on the same page when it comes to deadlines. The team should agree on a final deadline for the project and work back from there (I like working backward… if you couldn’t tell). Each team member can determine their own deadlines after they understand when the final project needs to be complete. They’ll be able to see where they fit into the puzzle and plan accordingly.

Follow Up

Even with task management tools, prepared lists, deadlines, and collaboration… things can still fall through the cracks. Open and honest communication with your team is critical to success. If a task is due tomorrow, talk with the person in charge of that task and check on the status. And encourage other team members to follow up with you. This keeps everyone accountable and on track to complete the project on time and work through any potential roadblocks as a team.

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It’s time to let go of the illusion of multitasking… it’s not real. Don’t worry, we can offer free therapy to anyone with strong attachments to juggling several tasks at a time. We almost decided to end the acronym at PRO, but we realized it wouldn’t be complete if we weren’t FOCUSED.

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Are you Focused?

With so many different assignments piling up on our plates, it can be very tempting to switch from one assignment to another to give ourselves a break. Unfortunately, when we do this, we actually waste time and decrease productivity. When you are struggling to complete a task, rather than switching to another assignment, just give yourself a break. Or simply adhere to the wisdom of Nike… Just Do It.

Work in intervals

Breaking up your workday into intervals has been shown to increase your productivity by encouraging you to focus on a single task. The Pomodoro technique is a useful exercise that can help you eliminate the urge to multitask. This technique establishes a sense of urgency as you only have a certain amount of time to work before taking a break. This urgency brings out the competitive nature in all of us – we want to see how far we can get on one task before time is up, limiting the temptation to switch to another task.

Prioritize your daily to-do list

Having an updated, daily to-do list is a good start to staying focused, but it can be easy to jump around from task-to-task without taking the time to prioritize. A simple fix to this challenge is to number your to-do’s. By ordering your tasks, you force yourself to complete them one-by-one instead of hopping ahead to the easier tasks on the list.

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If you made it all the way to the bottom of this article (without cheating), you are probably PROF, bruh. And if you’re not PROF and you were just reading this article for fun, you’re on a path toward greatness. Apply what you learn! Be PROF! Be successful and trendy at the same time.