Five Tips to Achieve More Effective Meetings

Meetings are a powerful tool that are widely misunderstood.

Did you ever sit in a meeting feel the desire to yell, “Get to the point?”

Have you ever walked out of a meeting and thought to yourself, “That was a total waste of time?”

Meetings fill an increasing number of hours in the workday, and yet most employees consider them as a waste of time. According to a survey of U.S. professionals by, meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer.

Before we discuss Five Tips to Achieve More Effective Meetings, we first need to address mindset. Employee mindset training can transform the flow and outcomes of your meetings.

mindset: the established set of attitudes held by someone.

Teams we train to implement the W.A.I.T. mindset see significant improvements in effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of their meetings on the bottom line.

Our TOP Time Optimization Tip: W.A.I.T. a minute before you speak

Click Here To See The W.A.I.T. flow chart

If everyone considered this, meetings would be much more effective

There are ways to run effective, efficient meetings that leave your employees feeling energized and excited about their work. Here are five tips to achieve more effective meetings:

  1. Distribute and Review Agenda In Advance. Review list of attendees. Prepare an agenda template so all future meetings can be planned by filling in the blanks. You should establish ground rules, we ban technology and remind others to be mindful of using the W.A.I.T. technique. The mindset is taught, reinforced, recognized, and rewarded ingraining it into company culture.
  2. Clear Objective and desired outcome. A meeting must have a specific and defined purpose. Before you send that calendar invite, ask yourself: What do I seek to accomplish? Are you alerting people to a change in management or a shift in strategy? Are you seeking input from others on a problem facing the company? Are you looking to arrive at a decision on a particular matter? Standing meetings with vague purposes, such as “status updates,” are rarely a good use of time.
  3. Take no hostages. An engaged audience is required. But, nothing derails a meeting faster than one person talking more than his/her fair share. If you notice one person monopolizing the conversation, call him out. Say, “We appreciate your contributions, but now we need input from others before making a decision.” Be public about it. Establishing ground rules early on will create a framework for how your group functions. You can use the “Parking Lot” to manage off topic discussions.
  4. Stick to your schedule. Start on time, end on time. Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the meeting, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to people in advance. Once you’re in the meeting, put that agenda up on a screen or whiteboard for others to see. This keeps people focused.
  5. Follow up. It’s common for people to come away from the same meeting with very different interpretations of what went on. To reduce this risk, email a memo highlighting what was accomplished to all who attended within 24 hours after the meeting. Document the responsibilities given, tasks delegated, and any assigned deadlines. That way, everyone will be on the same page.

Meetings truly can be valuable and productive. Master these five elements and you can run productive and efficient meetings that move the needle forward.

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Contact us regarding W.A.I.T Mindset training for your team

coaching performance results. Who is Mike Spence?


Manufacturing is big business in WNY: These 6 blogs will help you stay current.

You may, or may not realize, but manufacturing is one of the three industries in the greater Buffalo area with the most job opportunity.

You probably didn’t know that WNY college/universities graduate:

  • 4000 more teachers per year than there are jobs
  • 3000 more business management professionals than there are jobs
  • WNY and other blue collar towns need to do a better job preparing their community members for the jobs available and creating career ladders within companies to prepare for the influx of retirements coming due to an aging workforce

Working in the manufacturing world means it’s important to be in the know about changing regulations, technology updates, enhancements and overall industry trends. That responsibility can be daunting. Thankfully, there are resources that make it easier to stay in the loop.

CollegeCPR and buffalo manufacturing jobs

One such resource is the blogosphere.

By following relevant manufacturing blogs, you are an asset to your company and a resident expert on an evolving and rapidly growing industry. With that, make sure these six manufacturing blogs are on your radar.

  1. Shopfloor is the blog of theNational Association of Manufacturers (NAM). It has been a recognized resource for manufacturing advocacy on issues such as energy and labor policy, legal reform, trade and regulation.
  2. Manufacturing Innovation Blog, the blog of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), discusses key issues for U.S. manufacturers such as how robotics shape the workforce. It serves as a resource for manufacturers, industry experts and the public to discuss key manufacturing topics.
  3. The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is a non-profit, non-partisan partnership formed in 2007 by some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. Its mission is to strengthen American manufacturing and create new private-sector jobs through smart public policies. Recent posts cover topics ranging from the cybersecurity risks in supply chains to the importance of workforce training in manufacturing.
  4. bills itself as “the leading source for manufacturing and product development news.” With writers who are experts in a variety of aspects of the manufacturing industry, this blog updates multiple times per week including news, magazine articles, association links, tradeshow information and web communities.
  5. With an overarching focus on industry news, Manufacturing Business Technology has comprehensive content that makes it one of the best manufacturing blogs you’ll find.
  6. Manufacturing Transformation is a comprehensive and expertly-crafted resource for industry insiders focusing on the effects of globalization in the manufacturing trade. Feel like you have industry savvy to share? This site invites outside contributions.

Of course, this list doesn’t cover all of the great manufacturing content and resources out there, but it does provide a baseline for helping marketers and PR practitioners stay up-to-date with new methods and anticipate emerging ones. Keep current to help your company stay abreast of the competition, or even ahead of them. You’ll be able to modify your plans as you see changes happening or stay the course, depending on the newest information being disseminated.

And there you have it, folks. Now get to following

CollegeCPR helps prepare students to make informed career decisions and set themselves up for success.

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What career training do you need?

Top Quotes from Glassdoor Summit: Employer Branding and Recruiting

Successful companies understand how important it is hire right. Today. more than ever, candidates need balance.

Feedback from HR and employers is very important to help equip and prepare job candidates to make an impact. Candidates need to research employers to understand their mission, priorities, and culture. All before applying for a role.

Strong candidates have the hard skill sets AND are a cultural fit for the team and the company brand. They are informed.

More importantly, how does a job applicant articulate your value to the hiring manager?

Streaming this event reinforced my infatuation with learning technology.

Using elearning and video conferencing anyone can connect with a larger audience.

EVENT: Glassdoor Summit, Employer Branding and Recruiting

collegeCPR, career coach, collegelife

The Summit hosts over 600 attendees and a virtual audience of more than 10,000 from across the globe.

Dynamic leaders, seasoned practitioners and industry influencers  share their stories. Check out a few of the heavy hitters scheduled to present at this year’s event.

  • Arianna Huffington, Founder, The Huffington Post and Founder and CEO of Thrive Global
  • Lucia Luce Quinn, Chief People Officer, Forerester
  • Rusty Rueff, Former EVP of HR at EA and PepsiCo
  • J.T. O’Donnell, Founder & CEO, Work It Daily
  • View the full speaker list

Coaching happens all the time — it can be a quick chat in the hallway.

Point being, employees need direction and performance feedback.

“Feedback is a gift. Listen and learn.”

Measure progress, encourage creative problem solving, and engage the minds of your team to unleash their human capital.

The data supports smart hiring. Hiring the right people cuts costs, improves culture, and reduces turnover and turmoil.

strong employer branding, reduce staff turnover

Hire remarkably smart people who are passionate about your mission

and care about the people you employ & the problems you solve.

Never compromise.



Some key quotes from today’s event:

  • “A lot of focus around diversity and inclusion”
  • “CEO’s read Glassdoor comments”
  • “HR needs to speak the language of the business with the CEO”
  • “Communication is key once again.” – Lucia Quinn of @Forrester
  • “Meetings start with customer comments, followed by glassdoor comments” – Lucia Quinn
  • “Culture is a business priority. Culture is a marketing tool for retaining top talent.”
  • “Human capital is what companies appreciate.”
  • “Your greatest asset is your people.”
  • “Employees love to be mentioned in the context of the work they’re doing.” @StacyZapar
  • @Ericsson Places strong focus on building a diverse and inclusive work culture.”
  • Never stop learning.

CollegeCPR helps accelerate professional success. through guided activities on occupational exploration, skill development, and career coaching.

#gtsummit #recruiting #glassdoor #collegecpr

student leadership, college success, job placement, field experience, skills, management, CollegeCPR

Employer-Employee Gap Widens

The workforce is changing

Leaders who learn the personalities and motivations of younger generations will thrive

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a VP at a regional bank.

They recently interviewed a millennial, an internal candidate with 1 year experience in a teller role. Applying for a new role, they described there motivation as a stepping stone to a back office job, mentioning seeing themselves in the position for one year.

The applicant never made comment about performance in the current role and reasons why they are best for the job. They felt entitled to the position because one year tenure, as am ‘average’ employee in the prior role.


This applies to so many of us as:

Parents, Coaches, Teachers, Professors, Employers

Smart organizations invest in programming to engage younger workers and encourage diversity appreciation in the workplace

Smart parents invest in their children’s occupational exploration, personal growth, and career development,

PARENTS:  This is your answer 

Subscribe to get started and join our community 

Contact our team if you want to lead change, innovation and integration for your organization

trail blazers path less chosen

Should every college student learn a CRM?

Who should learn a CRM?

Not every student. But any student that could end up working in business with a sales function (just about all of them).  Anyone in a customer facing business role, or a support function of the client works in a CRM. Enterprise companies and savvy SMB’s manage sales funnels in a CRM. Enterprise’s often staff full-time CRM developers.

A few popular CRM’s are: Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, and many others

What is CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is not just the application of technology, but is a strategy to learn more about customers’ needs and behaviors in order to develop stronger relationships with them.

Why does CRM matter?

Centralize customer data, remote access, field sales, remote workers, distributed workforce,

A CRM provides a 360 degree view of all customer data, sales funnel activity, sales to date, and inactive

How does CRM work?

Essentially, CRM works by collecting leads or consumer information, analyzing the collected information to understand customer or market requirements, and adjusting marketing campaigns accordingly to increase sales.

CRM also serves customer service and support divisions– by making business interactions more efficient and improving customer satisfaction as a consequence.

From Good to GREAT: CRM mastery for business growth

Mastering the reporting capabilities of a CRM gives 360 degree insight into the sales funnel, account base, and opportunity transparency of your sales team. This flattens the organization eliminating fluffy management roles. Applying more resources to selling activities, business growth, and employee development.

*As a manager or business owner, the last thing you want is to lose income by targeting the wrong customer segment, an indication for slender margins down the road. Client administration programs can provide you valuable intelligence about long-term sales trends, helping you adjust the existing corporate sales strategy and results tactics. For example, a five-year analysis of your janitorial services company’s sales data shows that income from car manufacturers is in decline, while revenue derived from the higher education sector is on the rise. Based on these results, you may decide to target universities and colleges more aggressively and gradually pull back from the auto sector.

  • Sales and Marketing Strategy
  • Client management – get more visibility into your client base, deploy tactics needed for long-term profitability, and formulate plans that propel your team into target markets.
  • Profitability Tracking: Funnel management and speedy bookkeeping system and more accurate financial reporting
  • Regulatory Compliance: An effective client policy enables small business owners to automate some business processes that were previously manual. This is a winning approach in the long-term, especially when it helps you comply with federal and state laws and industry standards. For example, you may not need to hire a team of compliance analysts to perform regulatory checks if you apply the correct settings to a CRM tool. You can instruct the tool to flag a high-risk client or generate the relevant documentation based on the client’s risk score.


Supporting Articles:

Importance of Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

10 Things That Require Zero Talent

Don’t get bitter, get better!

Throughout my career, hundreds of colleagues, friends and/or students come to me for advice.  Most often in a time of need. Often dealing with rising stress and frustration in their life. Seeking ways to improve their situation, their well being and their performance.

My answer is consistent, I always start by suggesting that you focus on the factors that you can control. Learn to control your role in any relationship. Control your thoughts, self-talk, and your reactions to emotional triggers.

If you are anything like me, a lack of control creates feelings of helplessness and unrest.

Focus on things you can control, and put your worries at rest.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Eric Thomas, a top motivational speaker, a.k.a. “the hip-hop preacher” shares his thoughts in the video below.

Many people are looking for a quick fix. Or using factors outside their control as self limiting beliefs and excuses. Too many people have made the mistake believing a college degree will make you a professional.

There are more worthless and unused college degrees than people actually using them as intended.  I’m not anti-college, I am pro education. But lack of work experience and occupational exploration is compounding the student debt problem and the inefficiency of a college education.

I am no different. I have two degrees that I don’t use today. But the skills and knowledge I gained is transferable. Each degree lead to a job in the field, because I applied myself to gain more experience than my colleagues. Within 3 years in each position, I moved on to find positions better suited for the entrepreneur in me.

What is different is my preparation, effort, attitude, work ethic. My ability to look outside the box for roles that fit my talents more than my degree differentiated me. I took on jobs that challenged me to grow. With time I found opportunities that compensate me better and provide more professional gratification.

10 Things you have complete control of and can improve immediately:

  1. Being On Time (Punctual)
  2. Work Ethic (Routines, follow-through, feedback)
  3. Effort (how hard you work)
  4. Body Language (non verbal communication accounts for @80% of a message)
  5. Energy
  6. Attitude (optimistic, problem solver, compliant)
  7. Passion
  8. Being Coachable (willingness to learn)
  9. Doing Extra (extra responsibility)
  10. Preparation

**SUCCESS HACK: Learn to leverage your fears to push you forward, instead of holding you back.

Whether you are a student, parent, employee, boss or leader, transferable skills are practical, and applicable in everyday life.  These skills are common among the healthier, happier, and more successful members of our communities.

CollegeCPR can help you boost your college success, sharpen your skills, or increase your career trajectory!

Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply

Soft Skills – personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

As a professional, how much value do you place on soft skills?

Harvard research shows 85% of job success comes from having well developed soft skills and people skills.

Transferable skills, soft skills, leadership skills

Proud Parent Moment: This week my 11 year old daughter finished her first year of middle school. She sent me a text message after her last day that said,

“Guess what?”

“I sent all my teachers an email telling them that I learned so much and I was so thankful to be in their class.”

As parents, we invest so much into our children.  As I see my daughter growing, she is adapting many of my styles and habits. I try to instill in her that most people do not ask questions. Most do not follow-up, and do not want to to go the extra mile to be great.

I teach her to listen first, speak her mind, express her emotions, and treat people with respect. In our home we place a lot of value on talking through life experiences. We spend time exploring new activities, building things, and reflecting on teachable moments.

When you invest in people.  When you engage them in the process, they buy in to your mission.  When others buy in, a team forms and a cohesive productive group emerges (a business or a family).

Problem solviung, communication, conflict resolution, productivity, team work

Do you desire to learn and develop soft skills?


The good news is that, like any skill, soft skills can be taught. The better news? Boosting your soft skills gives you a leg up on a new job or a promotion. These have applications in all areas of a person’s life, both professional and personal.

  • Take a Course: CollegeCPR offers workshops, training video’s and web based courses on soft skills, college success strategies, and career mapping activities. Such as effective communication, public speaking, , LinkedIn for Job Seekers, project management, teamwork, and cultural understanding.
  • Volunteer and Service Learning: Nonprofit organizations provide a platform to develop soft skills. List high-profile volunteer work on your resume and talk about what you learned.
  • Seek mentors you want to learn from
  • Seek field experience early and often
  • Leverage campus resources
  • Bring your child to work and help them explore career options

Whether you are a student, parent, employee, boss or leader, CollegeCPR provides soft skill training that is transferable, practical, and applicable in everyday life.  These skills are common among the healthier, happier, and more successful members of our communities.

Visit CollegeCPR and learn how to sharpen your skills and increase your career trajectory!


CollegeCPR offers workshops, training video’s, web based courses, and coaching on soft skills, college success strategies, career mapping activities, and leadership.

We partner with parents, schools, and colleges to deliver student bridge programming between high school and college, and college and career transitions.

We’ll help you transform your life to achieve personal and professional success.


Don’t take it from me, see some of the supporting documents:

The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the … – Harvard University

Research & Publications – National Soft Skills Association

Harvard Leadership Professor Says Soft Skills are Essential for


The College Disconnect – Are students unemployable?

For years parents have come to me with the same concern. Their children are struggling to find direction after graduating from college. The kids don’t know what to do, and their parents don’t know how to help. And they’re not alone.

Consider these statistics cited in a recent Forbes article.

  • A national Pew survey says 57% of prospective college students believe college is no longer worth the tuition it charges.
  • Seventy-five percent of respondents believe a college degree is unaffordable.
  • An Inside Higher Ed survey of chief academic officers revealed that 96% believed their universities “were doing a good job.”
  • In sharp contrast a Gallup survey showed 14% of the American public, and only 11% of business leaders, strongly agreed that graduates have the necessary skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace.

The subject shifted to challenges the parents face communicating with their children about life plans. Over and over again I see good intentions of parents, students and teachers, but the delivery is missing the mark.

why is college so hard


Here is an example: 22 year old female, graduated high school with 104 average. She is in her last semester of her BA at a State University with a 4.0 GPA. Sounds good right?  But in a few weeks she could face the real world and have to take her resume to the market. She has no job experience. No certification or professional license. No clear career path. No job leads. And no plan other than more school…her major of choice, communications. So for 3 months, before school bails her out of the real world for two more years, she will work as a server to pay for beer.  Maybe grad school on the same campus will get her there…what do you think?

I’ve seen this too many times for it to be an exception, it is more like the majority. At the least, we are facing a recurring a problem.

I don’t want to point at the education system and say you suck. But… suck - fix that

I mean I was a teacher, a coach, and a professor. I helped K-12 and University students everyday for years. It’s meaningful work, I’m not knocking the teachers. Education is by no means an utter failure.  But the higher education system is failing many people.

The burden of misguided college isn’t just wasted time, it’s a financial burden for most.

But it’s missed opportunity for all!

While the K-12 stakeholders are preoccupied struggling to establish standardized testing. Our youth need testing that complements the curriculum and facilitates academic success, independent thinking, and creative problem solving. Not testing that drives the curriculum teaching to a test and not the student.

Higher education and academia can be split. Professors who tend to focus on theory, history, research, and publications. College administrators and program managers care about keeping their budget. Education is bureaucratic, change is resisted and slow.

For 6 years I’ve worked in corporate America everyday, working with Fortune 100 executives and private business owners. They are looking for lean, not unproductive. Efficient, not incompetent. Proactive, not reactive. Experts, not rookies.

Since 2002 the entrepreneur in me has been asking questions.

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What are your struggles?
  • What did you do to make it easier?
  • How can I help more people be successful?

Bringing it all together

There is good news, this is not about blame or pointing a finger at the system.


College is not on autopilot, there is no guarantee.

Take control.  Decide how you want to spend your time.

Be responsible. Learn to dictate life and be decisive.

Think about quality of life and your financial needs.

Explore career options and gain field experience.

Take advantage of campus resources


Grab the wheel, hit the gas, and start driving your life forward. Where do you want to be? How will you get there? What resources are available? Who will hold you accountable?

What do students need to transition into professionals? 

Take the next step: Watch a 3 minute video introduction



Michael Spence has teaching experience, parental instincts and a passion for helping others. Michael shares his knowledge and experiences to help students and parents receive all the benefits a college experience can provide.





How Moving To The Cloud Can Save You Millions

Ask yourself a question:  How has technology changed your role?  Your industry? 

Technology is changing the way people work.  The ball and chain that once restricted employees to an office and a desk is gone.

Whether you are a founding partner or an employee with a vested interest, then LISTEN UP!

I’m witnessing a new trend in the market and it’s growing fast. Companies are figuring out how to modernize their data infrastructure. By doing so they are delivering a HUGE savings over time.

I see this picking up steam in organizations with:

  • A large… even global… footprint
  • Decades of legacy infrastructure
  • Users in the 10’s and 100’s of thousands (*Cost savings scale)

I wake everyday with a desire to help my clients improve their business.

Can you benefit from a trusted technology adviser for your business?

Together, I will help you execute a business continuity plan that makes your business more nimble, more productive, and more efficient.  Using the steps below I have helped business save millions of dollars per year.

Let’s walk through how it’s done.

Step 1: Perform a file system assessment of your NAS infrastructure

Nearly every assessment I’ve seen looks almost identical to this… so as a rule of thumb consider yours to be 33/33/33 as well.


Step 2: Calculate your cost per GB

Step 3: Find a low cost storage repository

Home directories and networks shares are typically scored as LOW security so you can find many repositories to host them: AWS, Azure, etc.

If there are security, compliance, or data residency concerns… that’s easy to navigate… but it’s also a long conversation.

If you’re at the Petabyte level… consider building a private repository which delivers cloud economics. I find this to be a growing market space in the Enterprise space. One large client decided to build a private cloud storage repository which brought their cost per GB down from $1/GB  to .10/GB.

Step 4: Prioritize your NAS footprint

By doing this you will identify the low hanging fruit – the easiest and quickest type of data you can move. We call this your “quick hit ROI”.

We find that home directory and desktop data is by far the easiest to move. Once that’s moved… go after your team/network shares.

Based on this model… that means 66% of your data is off your expensive NAS infrastructure. The cost savings start to add up.

Step 5: Migrate your data

There are a few ways to do this. Some clients prefer to use the DIY approach. This requires quite a bit of time, development, and actual “work” but they CAN successfully move this data using provisioning and migration API’s.

There is another method that works great and requires the use of special software. We found this requires little to no coding. It even keeps your permissions intact. This is especially effective and fast for moving home directories, team shares, SharePoint, and even non-sanctioned cloud accounts… i.e. Dropbox accounts!


SMB, mid-market and enterprise customers can all learn from this cost structure around home directories and network shares and can see monthly savings.

I’m watching clients follow this methodology leading to HUGE cost takeouts across Mid-Market and Enterprise clients.  I want to help you leverage technology to better service your customers and grow your bottom line!


When you have technology questions, who do you call?

If you need a second opinion or have questions, I’d love to connect.


Michael Spence has worked on the carrier side of the broadband cable industry as an account executive, sales manager, corporate trainer, performance coach, and technical trainer.  Michael credits his industry knowledge to the hundreds of brilliant engineers and network innovators he has been privileged to learn from.

  • Ethernet network design and management
  • RFP and Vendor management
  • Network hardware life-cycle management
  • Data Center and colocation consulting
  • IP Phone Service – SIP, VOIP
  • Telecom audits