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Opinion: How is Your 'Professional' Hygiene & Time Management?

Published February 11, 2019

Editor's note: Trey Richardson is a marketing professional for hire who spent nearly three decades in virtually every supply channel of the cycling industry starting in retail service and sales before, during, and after e-commerce entered the marketplace. He has since held roles with key bicycle P&A manufacturers and distributors and has written articles for popular online and print media outlets. He has a LinkedIn page.

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Instead of talking about the same old apocalyptic industry news and dropping f-bombs on what happened to Interbike, let's back up and take a more intimate look at ourselves individually. If you asked me what I thought was the most significant thing that sets this industry apart from others (there are many), I would say it's each individual's personal and professional attachment to this industry and the very people (consumers), they serve. Elsewhere ... sure, people can care about and be proud of the work they do but not many industries come to mind where just about every individual is passionate to the point of being a customer or advocate of their own ties.

Think about that for a second. Whether you own/manage a shop or head up global sales for Sramano, no matter your role in this industry, you are an end-user and/or cycling advocate (a customer if you will) as well. In short, we are them and they are us.

But do they see us as we see them? How does our "hygiene" compare?

Before we try to "fix the industry" or adapt to what it being what it is, we should first consider how important it is to optimize and balance out personal and professional time management. I discuss this last, but time management is often more challenging to those working in the retail side of our industry. Their weeks don't often sync with many of their friends', family's, (and even customers'), and if not managed, can result in individuals burning out. Once burned out, motivation diminishes and things start falling apart (I recently discovered a sort of fun, analog way of doing something I've done for years ... but in a much more effective fashion and feel it's worth a conversation).

Poor Hygiene and How to Improve It

This isn't about bathing or conditioning your wizard beard, but when was the last time you checked yourself in the mirror or pretended to rub your eye with your shoulder only to inconspicuously sniff a pit to determine if your deodorant had expired? These things are a part of our daily lives because we care about our basic presentation ... yet we often overlook these attributes when it comes to our professional sides.

Stop looking at your hair and worrying about how many times you wore those socks ... (OK, maybe worry about the socks). Instead take a look at where your "Professional" Hygiene stands. What is "Professional Hygiene" you ask? At a glance, it's your professional identity and practices others observe during and OUTSIDE of your regular day to day. Oh ... and "PROFESSIONAL" identity and "social identity" are two very different things.

I looked at a good mix of people I know and know of and was a bit shocked how few either didn't have a LinkedIn account or hadn't updated it in years. Some just had an old profile picture with zero information attached and one of those owns a shop. I was also surprised to find, at the retail level, that mechanics seemed more likely to have an up-to-date account than other shop employees.

But I Don't Need It

But you do. LinkedIn is FREE and common ground for many of your moneymaking customers. Most are there to keep up and interact with others on a professional level as well as seek opportunities to collaborate and learn.

Facebook is social, and frankly, the ineffective white noise of the internet. On LinkedIn, no one is posting their kids' first day of school, there are very few political keyboard battles, and almost everyone is ... well, PROFESSIONAL! There is an unwritten rule of etiquette as LinkedIn is not the place to constantly pimp out everything you're trying to sell, however it is a great, more refined place to expose your own professional interests, events, knowledge, and accomplishments ... WHICH EXPOSES YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS! Who wouldn't love an opportunity to share all of those valuable assets with a likely successful group of professionals who like bikes ... FOR FREE? (Did I mention it was free?)

There are also an unlimited number of blogs and stories being posted by those you are 'friends' with or follow ... to which is yet another FREE resource of valuable information. Blogs like Occam's Razor offer an assortment of simple to understand viewpoints on digital marketing, consumer behavior, and more effective ways to engage them. Also, shops and employees can share everything from BRAIN articles and the latest promotional videos from brands you carry. Sharing pix and information about upcoming and past events, to passively bragging about the training seminars you send your staff too builds your brand's/business's integrity! Here in Atlanta, PMBA just completed a workshop with some great brands training shop technicians on some of their new technologies and assembly and maintenance procedures ... including e-bikes! Most of the attendees I know are sharing it all over Facebook but I only saw it posted twice on LinkedIn.

Every company, retailer, and individual in the bike industry should have an up-to-date LinkedIn account but read the next paragraph before getting too excited. There is a little upfront effort involved and it's important to get it right.

First Thing's First

Even if you've been in the same position for 10 years or own your business, everyone should have a current resume and curriculum vitae. Looking for a job isn't the only reason people build a resume or CV (though it is absolutely required if you are), but I cannot express enough how valuable it is to have an up-to-date record of your work history and accomplishments.

A resume should be a clear, one-page display of your work history with bullet points in order of importance under each employer and association (Include volunteer work as it oozes integrity). Usually no more than 10 years of work history is needed unless there are some key roles that relate to what you're doing or seeking to accomplish. Building a resume is also a great way to reflect on your professional growth and focus on your where you want to go.

A Curriculum Vitae (commonly called a CV) is more centered on actual experiences and accomplishments. Again, it should also be a clear, one-page item but allows you have a little more freedom in how you lay it out. It doesn't always have to be in chronological order and should be laid out based on what you want it to say about you. You can even have a few different versions depending on what you want to accomplish. While a basic, no-frills resume and CV are fine, there are a thousands of examples out there to help you determine your layout as well as services who put them together for you.

Time Can Be On Your Side

I was a great example of what not to do when it came to time management. There was a point in time I almost lost everything I was trying to accomplish ... and that was before I had kids! I Had a full-time job, worked weekend at a shop when I wasn't traveling to races, was a full-time college student, and got up at 5 a.m. to get in a couple hours of riding almost daily. I was used to maintaining a pretty insane study and training schedule in high-school but working so much started causing me to fall behind (and asleep) in class, be late to work, dating ... (what's that?), and constantly stressed. I eventually hit a wall but I wasn't going to settle just yet. I trained on an organized 'periodization' schedule so tried adopting other things to that format by jotting my daily schedule down minute by minute. I began with a block of required sleep time because I knew every other item's accomplishment relied on it. It was eye opening because I then started re-prioritizing my training and race schedule around my work and school load. Before I even put my schedule in play, I had this weight lifted off my shoulders.

Now with kids and some gray hairs, things are a little more predictable to manage, but some common phrases I hear myself say relate to putting off things I wish I hadn't. This includes personal projects, riding, friends, and worst of all, my family. For years I have continued to keep notes in endless medium sized spiral notebooks for both personal and work-related items and I have become a master of all things Google calendar. Well, I recently discovered there is a next level of organization to be had and I encourage everyone with a semi-busy life and ideas and creativity swarming around in their head to look up "Bullet Journaling." The best part is it's fun and instills a feeling of accomplishment every time you use it.

Arm Yourself with Bullets

I'm just going to say it ... I have a fancy little bound notebook with top-notch paper (Leuchtturm1917 A5) and a couple of dedicated pens. I even put it in a nice, handmade leather cover making it even fancier. It's called a Bullet Journal and it's the best thing I've done in a long time. There is an insecure group of men that have referred to it as a BuJo (let's agree, that's worse), but considering I shaved my legs for 25 years and rode everywhere in spandex I don't worry about things like that.

Here's a video explaining the basic format but the way I look at it, a Bullet Journal is a sole, central hub where you manually input everything from your personal and work life, to ideas and positive thoughts into a strategically indexed format. I still rely on Google Calendar as I live by several audible daily reminders, but nothing helps me remember or follow through with something better than opening a book and writing it down. Even seeing my rather well thought out content page triggers things I may have forgotten to address. It also keeps me on task with things I say I want to do to the point I actually follow through with them. For those that always feel they're playing catch-up (raises hand), this takes a lot of the edge off at the very least.

Don't Procrastinate and Take Care of Yourself First

We're in the middle of what some of the country calls 'Winter' and this is the perfect time to prepare for and make subtle changes ... including getting more organized. If you don't take care of your own needs and happiness first, it becomes harder to accomplish the things others, and you, are relying on. Breathe and start by doing something for you. And just create a LinkedIn account already!!! 

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