Forming #Leadership habits: Getting to Inbox Zero while increasing sales

There are plenty of websites dedicated to helping you to become a good leader, and to form good leadership habits.  I believe that authenticity and emotional intelligence (EQ) form some of the hallmarks of a leader, but it is hard to demonstrate. Habits don’t make leaders in themselves, and neither does authenticity or EQ on their own. It all has to add up properly.  It seems that either you have authenticity or not. It becomes very apparent, very quickly, that you are simply ‘at it’ and people can smell that far away.

I started to look at developing habits that would help me to perform better as a team player and as a leader. I was also very aware that I needed to do better in sales, and I needed to record my sales better. I also needed to get better at following up with people. This would demonstrate EQ, since I’d be better able to show people that I cared by getting back to them. I also needed to follow up sales leads better, something I wasn’t good at.

I’m going to share how I got to Inbox Zero while increasing sales.

Get into the habit of… diligence

The number one point, though, is that at some point you really need to do the work. No Facebook, no distractions, no whatever; you need to plough through it. I created this system to help me to focus better, which, in turn, dialled down my email level and it also led to increasing sales for Data Relish. So here are the steps:

Get through email in Outlook like a Rockstar

I recommend you follow Luise Freese’s recommendations for setting up priorities and quicksteps for labelling email, which mean you can priorities tasks and emails like a Rockstar.  I follow every single step that Luise devised. Luise clearly explains how to set up your mailbox for productivity, using Quick Steps, folders and labelling. I follow Luise’s system, and I focus on the TODAY folder that she recommends you set up.

I changed the system a little. For the ‘TO READ’ folder, I set up a quickstep that forwards the email to Evernote. I have loved Evernote since 2011 and it is a great way of storing notes which I want to read later.

Get into the habit of… delegating

How can you delegate?

I hired a part-time PA

Initially, it was tough to have a PA because I am not used to diary management or someone handling my email. These are hard things to give up, but I had to do it in order to shed things that were holding me back from spending my time better.

Get into the habit of diligently recording every sales lead

It is important to record every single lead, no matter how small. It is a habit which is just as hard. It’s easy to procrastinate, or get distracted.

I use two systems; HubSpot and Insightly. HubSpot is great at marketing, and I use it with Power BI. I use it for my website, and mainly for marketing and sales tracking. I also use Insightly, which also works with Power BI. This might seem like a repeat step, but I like the small project feature which comes with Insightly because I can convert my Opportunities into Projects. HubSpot doesn’t have that final step. I use the Outlook addins for Insightly, Hubspot and Evernote.

I am still test-driving both systems, but it is easy to automate both systems. Put together, they enable my process for my marketing, sales and post-sales work. My PA can support me in this venture, too.

Get into the habit of… better directing your attention

I get a lot of requests for my time by people who want to obtain my help for something, and want my time for free. As an MVP and an RD, I’m active in the tech community and I do help people without expectation of recompense. However, I just can’t service them all. I got 20 requests in the past three days, and it’s a lot for one person.

I already do a lot of volunteer work so I already have an impact in the philanthropic and charitable space. So I have to triage and prioritise free requests for my time. I am trying to be fair to everyone, including myself. My PA really helps here; she gets back to people, explains that I am unavailable but I’ve suggested that they speak to X or Y (for example) or read Z as a starting point, and to come back to me if they are still struggling. So I try to help people on their way, within the limits of my capacity and demands on my time. Usually, people are pretty understanding, particularly if I explain that I’m doing some charity work which impacts issues I care about, such as diversity, and that there will be other routes for people to get what they need. It puts things into perspective, I think.

I have switched off email notifications on my phone, so I can focus properly.

Follow up on sales leads

If you’re following Luise’s system, then you have a Today folder which forms your working memory of things that you need to do.

Using HubSpot and Insightly means that I am better at following-up on sales leads. I use Outlook tools to log emails to both systems, since I’m still test-driving. This only takes a few seconds with both plug-ins.

However, the point here isn’t about the technology; it is about the process. I have a process which means I follow up on leads better. It was something I identified that I was bad at, and it really came down to having a proper process in place, supported by tech.

Actually doing the work

There are plenty of sites and books which promise productivity. The reality is, at some point, you have to do the work. It is not going to go away.

For me, I took out office space in Hertfordshire, and I find I’m able to work well there. I have a separate private room for phone calls, and I tend to book out an hour or so of my time to get through all my calls, one after the other. Once that’s done, I can concentrate on other things.

I chew my way through my Today folder, and I follow the GTDish methodology: delete, delegate, defer, do. And I just keep going.

Remembering what you did

I often need to search for documents. I use the Insightly Opportunity tracking number everywhere, and then the Project number when the Opportunity becomes a real project. I hate spending time to search for documents. I also use tagging in SharePoint Office365.

Journaling

I journal to increase my EQ. I am watching myself for inconsistencies in my behaviour, and to look at things through different lenses. It means I challenge myself to see if I’m thinking and behaving with authenticity, and I ask a lot of myself. But, if it means I become a better person, then it is worth it.

 

I think self-improvement is important, and I’ll keep doing it until I die. This system may change, but it is working for now. I’m open to other ideas, so please feel free to comment if you have any thoughts which might help me.

 

 

 

 

Connecting #Azure WordPress, #HubSpot data for analyzing data in #PowerBI for a small business #CRM

I got to the end of the free WordPress account for my small business account and I wanted to analyse my CRM and sales data better. I wanted to dial up my sales and marketing, and, of course, use data to understand my audience better. With the free WordPress edition, I could not do some of the things that I wanted, such as HubSpot integration and advanced analytics.

Why CRM?

As a small business, I rely on a lot of word of mouth business. When business leads come in, I need to track them properly. I have not always been very good at following-up in the past, and I am learning to get better at actioning and following-up.

 

I love the HubSpot CRM solution, and I decided I’d take it a step further by integrating HubSpot with my WordPress website, which is hosted in Azure and you can see my Data Relish company site here, with the final result. HubSpot have got great help files here, and I am referring you to them.

What technology did I use?

Microsoft Azure WordPress  – Azure met my needs since it could give me the opportunities for integration, plus additional space for storing resources such as downloads or videos.

Power BI – great way to create dashboards

HubSpot – CRM marketing and sales for small business

I found that using Microsoft Azure was a great way to make the jump from free WordPress to a hosted solution. Now, I am not a web developer and I do not intend to become one. However, I do want to use technology to meet my small business needs, and to do so in a way that is secure. I’m going to write up some posts on how to get started.

To get started with a website in Azure, you can follow the instructions here or watch the Channel 9 video for instructions.

Now, I needed a way of working with the HubSpot data in Power BI, and this is where the CData PowerBI and HubSpot connector comes in.
In running a small business, you need to be super-precious with your time. I could spend ages trying to create my own connector, or I could use a robust, off-the-counter connector that would do it for me.

In a small business, spending your time badly is still a cost.

In a business, you have to decide between spending money or spending time on an activity. If something is taking too long to do by yourself and someone/something could do it better but you have to pay for it, then it’s a false economy and a bad decision to do it by yourself. You’ve got a choice between expending time and effort, or a choice between spending money. Experience will tell you when to do what, but wasting time is difficult to measure.

There aren’t many options for Power BI and HubSpot, but I was pleased to find the CData connector.

Disclaimer: I didn’t tell HubSpot or CData that I was writing this blog so it isn’t endorsed by either of them.

What does CData look like?

You can download the CData ODBC Driver, which connects Power BI to HubSpot. Here’s a snip of their site:

CData PowerBI ODBC Driver

I downloaded the trial, and then went through the install. It was easy and ‘next next next’. When it is installed, it launches a browser to ask you to log into HubSpot, which I did. Then, quickly, I got the following screen – yay, I am in business!

CData Authorization Successful

Then, off to Power BI to download the latest edition of Power BI Desktop. It’s easy to install, and I could get cracking very quickly.

How do we get access to the HubSpot data?

In Power BI Desktop, click on the Get Data icon in the Home tab, and then choose the ODBC option.

Get Data ODBC

Click on the Connect button

Look for the HubSpot ODBC connector in the drop-down list. It should appear something like this:

ODBC Hubspot Power BI

Then, you will be asked for your name and password, and then click Connect:

ODBC HubSpot Username password

Once you have connected, you will be presented with a list of HubSpot tables

Hubspot Tables

Click the tables that you want, and the data will be loaded into Power BI.

If you don’t know which table you want, load in the tables starting with Deals first, then then compare it with the HubSpot screen. This will help you to understand better how the columns relate to your HubSpot data on your screen.

I’ll add more about HubSpot analysis in the future, but for now, happy PowerBI-ing!

Business Goals for 2019: Looking back over 2018 and forward

December is a great time for setting personal and business goals for next year. I’d hoped for some downtime at this time of year, but I’ve picked up a crucial data science project which needs to be delivered over Christmas so there isn’t much downtime. I’m also starting to write another book, which will be my fourth published book, and that will require focus. So I will be working every day except Christmas Day, and that includes weekends as usual.

As part of my MBA program, I’ve done lots of strategic analysis modelling for businesses, starting with the default SWOT and a PESTLE analysis through to different models: Porter, Business Canvas Model, SOAR, and so on. I am not going to share here. The reality is, with Brexit, it’s more difficult to plan. Markets, and businesses, do not like uncertainty. Businesses, like countries, benefit in the longer term from open trade. Increasingly, global competition will occur on a more level playing field but there has to be open access for that to occur. Brexit is a plan for the right by the right, and it is stopping the open access that we enjoyed previously.

For what it is worth, here is my take on Brexit: I believe that May’s Remainy Brexit plan will never get through Parliament because it pretty much keeps us in the Customs Union. This means that the People’s Vote option will become increasingly likely. We are no longer talking about the big red bus lie and we see the chaos. If there is another vote, I hope that we will stay in the EU as we are now.  So I am going to assume that all other things remain equal.

More than talking a good game

I was contacted me recently, by a former colleague who explained to me that someone had spoken to them about me. This ‘someone’ had told them that I was too small to deliver a project, that I didn’t know what I was talking about but I talked a ‘good game’, and that I would never deliver on time or on budget. The former colleague was so concerned about what they’d heard, that they invited me to lunch to explain the accusations which were stated behind my back. I was so horrified and fairly mystified; I had never worked with this individual and I didn’t really know them. I just asked for specific examples where I had just ‘talked a good game’ and not delivered on time or on budget, because I had no idea where they got their evidence from. It was all fairly alarming but of course the ‘someone’ hadn’t given any basis for their assertions at all.

In any case, the former colleague simply said that they would continue to work with me and they enjoyed working with me in the past; they had their own evidence to go on, and it is a mark of our good relationship that they talked to me about it at all. I was hugely relieved but I do wonder how often these tactics work, so I’ve decided to explain myself here and discuss this in terms of my goals.

So if you’re here because you’ve heard something similar, please let me know and we can have an honest discussion. I’ve got over twenty years as a Consultant, and I have postgraduate degrees plus industry experience in delivering Artificial Intelligence solutions. I’m writing my fourth book in Business Intelligence and I’ve edited another two. I have presented to five thousand people in the past month. So I do talk but I also deliver.

How was 2018 for you?

Data Relish Ltd was originally set up as Copper Blue Consulting, and was rebranded three years ago in order to make the offerings more clear. I have employed people in the past, and I had a business partner for a few years but that relationship is no longer in place. I do work for myself but note the following points:

Contracts and Partnerships

Current Status for 2018: I have partners who help me to deliver effectively. I have contracts in place with large partner organizations which allow me to scale; I have partnerships for 24 by 7 support, for example. Partnerships allow me access to sales, marketing and legal backup when I need it. Some of these partnerships are with Azure resellers and organizations, and I do not directly sell Azure so that my customers can benefit from the support that my partner organizations offer.

I am not releasing partner names here; I have a degree of concern, originating from the conversation with my customer, that there is a strong need for confidentiality on the basis that I’ve had the aforementioned stunt pulled on me. I am not giving any names away so that I inadvertently give detractors the opportunity to repeat their performance.

Customers

Current Status for 2018: 50% repeat customers with 50% new customers generated by word–of-mouth from previous customers

I am able to provide references on request from organizations of different sizes, verticals and global impact. Some of my customers are multi-billion turnover, right down to startups. I don’t make a huge effort to market myself because all of my work comes from word-of-mouth. Since I am so dependent on word-of-mouth marketing, it can mean I’m susceptible to stunts like the one mentioned above since I don’t have the flashy marketing that might give some people comfort. I have started to look more closely at marketing and I have set up a partnership with a small consulting firm to help me. It works well since they give me help, but I also pass on leads that I receive, and we have jointly delivered projects on occasion.

Business Community

Current Status for 2018: I started more business networking last year but it tailed off in February. Reason: I was not picking the right events well enough and I got disheartened.

I have started to attend Chamber of Commerce events again, and I met with David Gauke MP (Minister for Justice) and Richard Harrington MP (Minister of Business and Industry) this year. I am interested in learning from the local business leaders here in Hertfordshire, and also looking at ways that I can feed back into the business community. Networking is important and it builds trust. Additionally, being part of the local Chamber groups is offering the route of having our voices heard jointly in Government, and I was surprised to learn that our local MPs have regular and frequent meetings with Chamber representatives. Business is crucial to the success of society by keeping cashflow moving, providing jobs and stability and homes. I advise businesses strategically because I believe in putting the business back into business intelligence, and at the front-and-centre of artificial intelligence efforts.

Charity

I was a Data Ambassador for DataKind this year. Wow! What a rewarding, creative experience and it was incredibly satisfying to work with people who love data and want to do good with data science to help charities.

Current Status for 2018: I got involved with DataKind. You know who you are and I love you all; you have brought such knowledge, fun and great company to my life and you shine your light far out. You cancel out the darkness where people behave as in the anecdote above. Thank you for your healing.

 

So what are my Goals?

Here is the list of goals for 2019:

Contracts and Partnerships

Goals for 2019: I have partners who help me to deliver effectively and I will continue to honour the trust that they have put in me.

In 2019, I do not intend to employ people now since it takes me away from doing things that I love. I may do so in 2020 but it is not the right thing for me at this time. I have previously lost sleep over making people redundant and I do not want that burden again. I work on projects, often, that are simply too big for me to run out and hire a whole team of people and it would be madness to try. How could I even support things like 24 hour support? These are big projects and I need help quickly. Customers need help with AI, BI and Data Science leadership. So it works well.

Customers

I have done extremely well this year and I am proud of my customer list. Through partnerships and on my own, I have punched well above my diminuitive size to have a customer list where my customers have billions and billions in turnover and it is a mind-boggling amount when I add up the turnover amount of all these customers combined.

I do help them to be even more successful and I do help them make technology choices as part of the vision and strategy that I help them to formulate and devise.

Goal: More repeat custom and generate new customers. 50%/50% split between regular customers and new customers is a good split, and it worked well for me this year. As I lead customers to success, they drop off my customer list because they don’t need me any more; but that’s what I want! Self-sufficient, satisfied customers who are enabled and empowered to move on, and who recommend me to their colleagues and community.

Business Community

I am going to set myself the target of attending more business events this year. I am currently researching the business events that have value, and the ones that do not offer value to me.

Goal: I intend to re-ignite my business networking in a more targeted way. I have been pleased to meet leaders that I can learn from, and i hope to contribute more.

Charity

I was a Data Ambassador for DataKind this year. Wow! What a rewarding, creative experience and it was incredibly satisfying to work with people who love data and want to do good with data science to help charities.

Goal for 2019: More of the same. I get enormous richness from philanthropic efforts and I want to help people.

I wish you all the best for 2019! And don’t let anyone steal your pixie dust.

pixiedust

 

 

Financial Storytelling and Data Storytelling in #PowerBI

money-1604921_1920

As a consultant, I think it’s important to understand the numbers that make up a business. It means I can provide better advice to my customers since I can read their balance sheets, understand their financial statements, and translate these numbers into effective data visualization in tools such as Tableau and Power BI.

There are a number of accounting ratios which can be used to help determine the success – or otherwise – of a business. There is no ‘magic silver bullet’ that can help to determine definitively, but it is possible to put the ratios together to make a story that will help us to understand the business better. We can tell the story better through data visualization. So we move from data storytelling to finance storytelling.

Once we have the ‘story’ behind the accounting ratios, we can start to use these as a basis for storytelling in Power BI. In this blog series, we will start to look at the accounting ratios and how they are calculated. Then, we will look at how we can visualize this information in Power BI.

Accounting Ratios

Click here to see a bigger version.

Since we are looking at accounting ratios and how we can visualize them, let’s use this flow chart as a starting point. In the next topics, we will look at what these accounting ratios mean in more detail. We will also look at some of the McKinsey modelling, such as ROIC and the calculation of value.

A Day in the Life of Jen Stirrup: Tuesday 17th July, 2018 #SQLCareer

I was inspired by Brent Ozar, Steve Jones and Iris Classon to write about my day. My work and life don’t balance each other at all; my work is my life and I love what I do and I’m an unapologetic workaholic. I’m also a single Mom, so life crashes down around my ears on a daily basis. So my take is slightly different and I want to talk about what it’s like to be a technical single Mom, which is another dimension to being a woman in technology. We are even rarer, I suppose. So this is my #SQLCareer post, 1 out of 4.

I live on cups of tea and tea enables and empowers me. I didn’t note it at each step but there will be tea at each point.

12am My day starts at midnight. I’m usually still working then, so I’ll start here. I’m doing my MBA at a college in Zurich, Switzerland and it’s a lot of hard work. I read very late into the night. I’m enjoying the challenge and I’m learning a lot. I’m doing it to qualify and validate my twenty year consulting career. I learned a lot from working in consultancies before starting to work for myself eight years ago, and I’m grateful for the experiences. I’m reading about change in organizations, and reflecting on my experiences of change management as a pawn and a player.

2am I sleep.

3.30am Dogs wake me up barking, insisting that someone is outside. My security lights have come on. It could just be an urban fox, drinking at the water bowl that I leave outside for the birds. But still. I calm them down, and then try to go back to sleep.

6.15am I’m back up again. My dogs, affectionately known as Copy and Paste, have somehow managed to get out of the dining room where they sleep, and have decided to sleep outside my bedroom door. They are a complete joy and they are patient with the fact that I’m not a morning person. I shower while they tear up my house and garden before I walk them at 6.45.

CopyAndPaste.jpg

My dogs Archie and Nimbus, also known affectionately as Copy and Paste. They are half-brothers from a different set.

6.45am I wake up my teenage son before I walk my dogs. He’s a morning person. I’m not. We grunt at each other and then I take Copy and Paste out for walkies.

7.15am. I’m back. My Alexa is playing BBC Radio 4 Today program, or the BBC World Service, whichever one grabs my interest. Teenager is showered and I’m shovelling things in his school bag, throwing lunch money at him, nagging him to choose breakfast cereal, fix his school tie, making sure he’s got his bus pass and fending off requests for Iron Maiden merchandise, a paintball birthday party, a bunch of comics and a manga book.

In the meantime, Copy and Paste have formed a protest group demanding treats, and are demonstrating by sitting in front of my fridge and staring me down accusingly. They are looking for cheese but Bad Dog Mom isn’t handing out treats.

7.16am Bad Dog Mom hands out treats.

7.17am Boy eats and dogs devour treats. I tidy up the house, which involves dish washing (my new dishwasher comes on Monday), taking out trash and recycling, zipping around with the hoover, and putting things where they belong.

7.45am  I shovel my son out of the door, and I drive my teenager to the school bus and I try to really listen to him. My Mom antenna are twitching for problems and I want to see he’s ok.

8am I drop off boy and I realize I haven’t eaten so I grab a croissant from Simmons bakers, who have been in business since 1838. I’m a regular. I drive back to my home, tuning into the Today program on BBC radio four.

Infonomics
8.15am I take the dogs out again. I listen to Audible while I walk them. I’m currently listening to Infonomics by Doug Laney from Gartner.

8.45am coffee is brewing and the dogs are settling for a nap. My dog sitter arrives and I leave to get my train for my customer visit.

9am I’m on the train, furiously emailing.

10.30am I’m at my new customer site so I get to know the new team I’m working with. I don’t officially start for another week but I want to visit them so we are ready to hit the ground running. We kick off a high level view of our approach to taking them to a data science platform, analytics and machine learning. We draw, map and use post-it notes to move technologies around, remove some, add others. We note out data sources and data consumers. I photograph it all, for recording later. We are still agreeing a data modelling tool but they like Toad and Sparx.

1pm I met an old colleague for lunch. He referred me to the new customer so I want to thank him. I’m excited to be working with him again. I worked as a consultant for large and small firms before starting my own business, and it was the best way to start out. It meant I built a wide network, and I learned sales, marketing, customer perception and voice by learning and watching what other people did.

2pm I travel home and I sleep on the train.

3pm I’ve been asked to be an independent expert for an investigation and I need time to reflect. I have a meeting with the panel soon, and I like to walk as it helps me to gather my thoughts in preparation. It’s obviously NDA so I can’t get into details. I will say, however, that it can be quite stressful and walking does help me to think clearly. It’s crucial that I get this totally right, like everything else I do. People are depending on me and I have to be absolutely bullet-proof and right. Dogs are over the moon about the walk so at least someone is happy!

philatelist-1844080_1920

4pm Home. I have a Microsoft Regional Director call. That’s NDA.

kitchen-2494409_1920

5pm Teenage boy is home and he announces that there is no food in the cupboard or fridge. Teenage boys eat like locusts. So I go out and get some shopping done and we eat ready meals.

6pm My son and I walk the dogs. I want him to spend time away from a screen or anything electrical. It also means I get to talk to him, really talk.

Tokyo_Ghoul_volume_1_cover

7pm My teenage son is bored with my presence and goes to his room to read Tokyo Ghoul. I have also sneaked a read of it, and I thought it was outstanding. In any case, I need to get some work done for a US based customer, and they are online now. The dogs alternate between running amok in a playful fashion, or lying in a heap because they have worn themselves out. It’s nice outside so the doors are open, and they bolt in and out of the house.

I work in an ad-hoc fashion and this US based customer has a deadline of next week. I am using Power BI to create data visualization templates and I am creating them a Style Guide as I go along.

9pm My teenage son goes to bed, after having sent me an Amazon wishlist of ten Iron Maiden tshirts.

I am still working, and I will do so until midnight, when I call off my official work. My work involves the billable work but it also involves catching up on the following:

  • I have press releases to do for a keynote so I need to answer interview questions by email
  • I am featuring in a tech magazine so I have to prepare some materials for that
  • I need to approve headshots
  • I need to lead the developer who is building my new website for me. This means I need to deliver content, do things at the Azure backend so he can move on to the next step, and answer all of his questions. He is an owl like me, and we both work late. He’s an Artificial Intelligence postgrad and he’s doing the work for me in his evenings.
  • I need to sort out my accounts.
  • I need to delegate work to my personal assistant, who is currently creating PowerPoint templates for me. When she’s done that, I’m going to give her my presentations to be redone in the template, and it will be new content for my website. It’s hard to delegate since I need to be very precise, but it is about investing time now to get time back later.

12pm – 2am MBA reading. I drop billable work at midnight and I start to read again.

That’s it!

Email is a huge part of our lives. How can you set yourself up so you find it easily, when you need it most?

Ever had to provide email for legal evidence? If not, good… but one day, you might have to do that. How will you find it?

Email is serious stuff and you need to look after it. In this blog, I’ll explain how I set myself up with email for a balance of keeping my primary email mailbox small and archiving my email for fast retrieval when I need it. I use Microsoft Office365 archiving, Microsoft Flow and Google Drive to help put together a system I’m happy with.

logo-brightwareSo here is the back story. I used to be an Artificial Intelligence consultant for a small company called Brightware, who were eventually bought by Oracle. My focus was mainly on natural language processing in emails. The idea was that we used algorithms and a knowledge base which worked out the meaning, or the intent of the email message. The Program, known as Answer Agent, would conduct the calculations using the model I’d built.

As part of my work, I learned a lot about Microsoft Exchange and other email systems which were in vogue at the time, such as Lotus Notes, Pegasus and Mercury Transport Systems. In order to split data into training and test sets, I was usually given a huge PST file which I could split out for testing and training my models.

Even after I left the organization in 2002 after a five year stint as an AI consultant, I’ve continued to practice many of the things that I learned in that time. It was great to get fantastic consulting experience with big name companies, and the people that I was working with then, are now in senior positions now as we’ve all ‘grown up’ together. It’s very true that ‘people may not remember what you did or what you said, but they remember how you made them feel’. One contact, who hadn’t been in touch for almost 20 years, got in touch to say that he is a Director of a small AI firm and they needed some extra help with a strategic direction and Microsoft technology roadmap, so he got in touch with me to help them with their growth trajectory. It’s funny how you work closely together, don’t see each other for 20 years and when you meet, the years just roll away.

So, throughout my career, I continued to back everything up to Outlook PST archives; not just for myself, but for people who sent emails as part of my company as well. Email really is a huge part of our lives, and what we email says so much about us: the good and the bad. Having read so many emails over my life, I’m amazed what people will type and commit to email in a professional setting. Email does not belong to you; it belongs to the company, particularly if the company paid for your network, laptop, email account and your time spent reasonably during the working day sending the email. You are what you write!

You never know when it’s going to come back on you, which is where this email is going. Recently, I learned that a former employee of the client was being accused of something illegal. I was summoned to a client that I hadn’t seen for a very long time, as a witness to an internal investigation. Reading the details, I was stunned but I was happy to help, of course. The client needed to get a fair and external understanding of what had happened. I won’t go into details, but the accusation focused on illegal behaviour. Note that I was entirely innocent but I could comment and show evidence on people’s behaviour, and that was my relationship with the issue. I had not been at the client for at least a year, so I really needed to dig back in my memory.

The thing is, we tend to assume that an accusation is the same as evidence, and it is not. It’s the same with gossip; the assumption goes along the lines of ‘well so and so said it, so it must be true’ even though there is no data to support it. With gossip, people don’t tend to go back and validate its veracity over time, and it gets forgotten about but the vestiges still remain. It gets tucked into our mindset as some sort of evidence, which is likely used to support another piece of gossip as it comes our way. We don’t always see the silliness of the gossip, but we do sometimes remember that the gossiper made us feel ‘bad’ so we don’t always remember what they said or what they did, but we remember how they made us feel. So gossip, and accusations with no data, are foundless. They are not evidence.

Fortunately, accusations require proof in the legal system, and I was asked to provide evidence on the behaviour of other individuals. To my relief, I had backed up all of my emails and it was easy to go through them. I could submit them as I had been the cc recipient of some relevant conversations, and this helped to bring the issue to a close.

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Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/193584-193584/

As a consultant, I run into toxic situations now and again, and these are the situations that help you to grow as a consultant and as a person. I like to believe that emotions should not dictate our decisions, but this can be easy to say but more difficult and challenging to put into practice. Having been an advisor in some internal company cases on racial and sexual harassment has meant that I really have to put my own experiences and feelings aside, and look at the facts. It is a sobering experience, but it means I have to rise to be the leader that I would want to be leading me if I was the focus of these investigations.

I’ve also found two other ways of backing up email using Office 365 and Google. I’m going to lay them out here, and I hope it helps.

Archiving your Email

Why does Microsoft have more than one Archive folder (it seems!), and how are they different? There is the Archive folder and the In Place Archiving functionality. Essentially, the Archive folder in Outlook 2016 is available from your devices, but the In Place Archiving isn’t available on your device in your mail client. It’s that simple. In Place Archiving is for real archive, but you can find email again easily. Plus it keeps your mailbox small, which has got to be good, right?

Archive items in Outlook 2016

The ‘Archive’ folder is accessible on the left hand side of Outlook or through the Archive button in the Delete group on the ribbon. You can move one or more messages to your Archive folder without deleting them. The main benefit is that you can still access these emails on your phone and tablet, so they are still easy to find. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Select one or more messages that you want archive, but still find if you’re looking for them on your phone etc.
  2. In the Delete group, choose Archive.One Click Archiving
  3. You can also use the Backspace key to immediately archive one or more selected messages.
  4. Your message(s) will be moved to the Archive folder. If you archive a message by mistake, go to the Archive folder and move the message back to your Inbox.

Note: The Archive button is only visible in Outlook 2016. Your Archive folder already exists, even if you’ve never used the feature before. If you can’t find it, go to File > Office Account > Update Options > Update Now.

I don’t use this feature, because when I want to archive, I really want to archive. So I use the In Place Archiving Feature instead.

In Place Archiving in Office 365

An In-Place Archive in Exchange Online in Office 365 helps people to file emails by providing additional email storage. It’s not in your device mail by default, but you can find it using Outlook or Outlook Web App.

You can view emails in your archive mailbox and move or copy messages between their primary and archive mailboxes.

Here’s a screenshot from Technet. I’ve used this screenshot since I don’t want to display my own email.

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Credit: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn922147(v=exchg.150).aspx

You can find out more by visiting the Technet Site.

What about email attachments? Using Microsoft Flow to archive inbound documents to Google Drive

I use MIcrosoft Flow to automatically store inbound attachments to Google Drive, as a ‘cold storage’ mechanism. I use OneDrive and Google to store data. If, for some reason, I can’t access OneDrive, then I know I can find things in my cold storage.

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service created by Google. It allows users to store files in the cloud, share files, and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with collaborators.

To find out more about the Microsoft Flow connector, click here.

You can set up a Flow quite easily, and here’s the page that will take you through the wizard for Microsoft Flow:

Here is the final flow:

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I hope that helps you to see how to store email easily. You never know when you, or someone else, might need it badly.