Category Archives for "General"

3 Reasons Your Efficiency Hacks Are Not Working

Who doesn’t want to get more accomplished in less time with less effort?  Efficiency hacks have been a hot ticket for the past several years.  So why do I constantly hear workers complain about their workload, no time for vacation, and the amount of hours expected at the office.  Why aren’t these hacks making it better?  Why have we yet to find efficiency mantras that actually work?  

We are following the wrong advice.  It’s the negative hacks that work; not the positive seeming actions.  Let’s start with this truth:  It’s not what you are not doing that is holding you back.  It’s what you are doing. Like trying to open doors that will always stay closed to you.  So stop spending time on the wrong things, like pitching funders that don’t fund you or offering jobs to those who reject you.   Start focusing on the things that work and your efficiency will soar.

Understand how to stop doing what’s not working:

  1. Its Counter Intuitive. 

As Americans we wrote the book on MORE, MORE, MORE.  The concept of doing less and getting more is counter intuitive.  We think one more go at it and this time it will work. Just not so.  Think about a much needed vacation, or rest.  After the vacation of actually doing less,  you can actually do more.

2. We Focus on YES, not NO.  

We are trained to say Yes.  As in, “yes i am a team player”, “yes I will help my neighbor” and the ultimate “‘yes i can do that’.  We don’t want to be the Debbie Downer that says No.  And yet it is the No that makes more space for our Yes.  Can you wrap your head around this?  No, leads to more Yes.  It hones your priorities.

3.  Maybe, Someday, and Tomorrow  are the Bermuda Triangle of Efficiency. 

In classic Yoda fashion “Do or Do not”.  Anything else is a waste of time.  Choosing an action, regardless if it’s an active DO or passive DON’T Do, puts you on a clear path with a concurrent action plan.  Waiting, undecided, lingering just slows you down and clogs your brain, your calendar and your energy.  Last fall I was featured on Marc Guberti’s (Teenage Entrepreneur) Virtual Productivity Summit.  My most liked efficiency hack was: ” Do what you hate first. Once you get it done everything else will open up”.

To make your hacks work, make them purposeful and easy.  Follow my advice on Maroon Oaks Blog – Lead Your Workday with 12 Efficiency Mantras.   

Maroon Oaks connects  Women – Entrepreneurs,  Job Seekers & Relaunchers through a free member network.  Developed for Women who ant a level playing field and a chance to achieve family-work-life balance

It’s a little of a spiritual concept to grasp.  Only the doors that are meant to open, do open.  It doesn’t matter how much you knock, honk, sneak in and try to get access.  When it doesn’t work, stop doing on it and spend time on efforts that yield results.

If you focus on the people, companies and workers who understand you and your products and say “No” to those who don’t, you will have more time to say “Yes” to those who want to work with you.  And as a by-product you will be happier.

Try No and grow your business.



Lead your workday with 12 Efficiency Mantras


Do I Annoy My Co-Workers? Take the Quiz and See.

I’m so  excited, I finally did it.  I created an annoying quiz just for you!

With 100% certainty I know what is going to happen to you in the coming weeks.   You will annoy a co-worker.  Usually not purposeful, but the end result is the same.  It gets in the way of the work.  Although we often don’t intend to offend, it happens.  We don’t always look at our behaviors or understand  our actions that annoyed our colleagues.

Who wants to spend their time being annoyed?  That’s annoying already.

I know what you’re thinking.  How can Ilene know my situation? My team’s irritating idiosyncrasies?  The specific nuances of my workplace?  The truth is, I don’t.   What I do know is human nature; human nature as it particularly relates to being part of a team and managing workplace dynamics.  And I clearly know about being annoying (have you met me?)

My new quiz will provide insight into how your co-workers interpret your actions.

With 50% certainty, I know you are going to struggle with honesty when taking the quiz.   When the words resonate, pick that answer or you will only be annoying yourself.

Aligned Workplace mentors business leaders and managers to drive their agenda and build workplaces where success, inspiration, kindness, and joy define the culture.   We provide specific actionable advice to put you on the path to being less annoyed at work by using tactics to instantly transform the relationship dynamic.  Because being annoyed takes away from you driving your business agenda and wastes your time.

What’s Next:

First step is to know your “annoying type.” — the quiz will help you.

Start the quiz and in 7 questions you will know your annoying personality type.

Take the advice and share, share, share your results.

The world wants to know:  What is your annoying workplace personality?


What Everyone Ought To Know About Why I am Out of Sync and Need Help

I need your help.  I’m out of sync!  The funniest part is that’s how I made my living for years.  I knew exactly how to line things up and make them work.  I could spot what was out of whack much earlier than my colleagues.  That made me annoying.  Now I am out of sync.    

Four years ago I created Aligned Workplace, assisting C-suite Execs and Managers align their resources, team skills and messaging to quickly drive their agendas and grow their organizations.  Big shout out to those of you who bought my services!  And know how to drive your agenda, I did.  I was intense, pushed too fast, and was hard on you.  

Then something amazing happened. Managing Annoying People:  7 Proven Tactics to Maximize Team Performance was born.  The book officially launched January 2017.   It’s a fun, easy read handbook to deal with people in the workplace who suck your energy, time, and Zen.     “I built the book.  The book built the business and the business is building me” as said by Dean Minuto of Yescalate. Thanks Dean!

And now I’m not in sync. The book and business did really build me.  I’m different now.  More purposeful, relaxed and open.  I am at crossroads of what to do next.  Where should I be focusing my efforts?  Who is the exact customer that needs me and what should I be doing?

Data Points

I love data points, so here are mine.  Here’s what’s been happening:

  • Close to 500 copies of my book have made it into readers’ hands.
  • I speak and train new audiences on how to be better managers and handle difficult workplace situations (gentle reminder, send opportunities my way).
  • My radio interviews, guest blogs and articles (such as give career advice to new workers, mid-level managers and millennials on how to jump start their leadership journeys.
  • Through coaching, I provide CEOs and team leaders with action plans to broaden their spheres of influence.

My unique ability is to provide services, just in time.  I am in your corner as change occurs:  be it environmental, personal or workplace shifts that alter the existing rules.  What I find interesting is that everyone thinks their solution is so unique and yet they all want that one silver bullet  – the actions they can take to propel them forward.  They want answers.  They want shortcuts.  They want it wrapped up and delivered with a bow. 

So now the ball is in my court.  How do I reach and serve those who need me?   Originally targeted to CEOs and team leaders,  I now seem to be more useful to sandwich managers.  This is a term I coined.  Like the sandwich generation, stuck in the middle of two masters.  Sandwich Managers have to manage up and down and are usually annoyed all the way around!  I find these to be newish managers, late 20’s to early 30’s.  Particularly complicated now that everyone is gluten-free.

Here’s Where I Need YOUR Input:

  • Who should I be speaking to – where are the associations, populations connections to people and service organizations who could use my services?
  • Where are the right training opportunities with groups of 30 – 50 people?
  • What do you think of the creation of on-line “paid for course”?
  • Who would benefit most greatly from my services?
  • Who is willing to pay for this content?
  • Would it be fun to have more short videos with annoying situations played out?
  • How about more guest pod casts?
  • How annoying are these questions?

I am out of sync.  Now that I have repeated that three times – I think, you got it.

Hit REPLY and tell me what you think.  And a truly radical idea, pick up the phone and let’s have a conversation and catch up.

The lines are open 212.787.8581.

Spoiler Alert – next week’s blog will be a survey on How Annoying are You in the Workplace? 

Looking forward to connecting.

Un-Annoyingly Yours,


5 Things To Do Immediately About Annoying Misunderstood Habits

Being misunderstood sucks!  The worst part is we often don’t realize why our intent is not coming across loud and clear.  Do you know your everyday habits that cause people to form inaccurate or negative opinions of you?   Can you identify your behaviors that annoy others and repulse instead of engage?

I speak and mentor on how to turn annoying situations into amazing experiences, especially in the workplace.   Coaching managers over and over again, three distinct patterns repeat themselves.  The complaints, the explanations come in different forms, but they boil down to these annoying workplace habits: 

  • Being Anxious

Most of us live with some level of anxiety. We’re not really aware of how this shows up to other people. We think we’re covering it up.  You may talk too fast, too loud, or too much.  In reality it shows up as an annoying habit.

  • Controlling Behavior

For over achievers, it usually takes the form of micro-management.  Habits such as being aggressive, only wanting things your way and hovering over your direct reports run rampant.  Really you just want to be appreciated and of service, but to others you appear inflexible, tough, controlling.  Not fun for others.

  • Insecurity

For those who are frightened of not being good enough, it shows up as needing constant reassurance. The habit is asking the same question over and over again. It makes others think you are insecure. Your friends or coworkers, or even your boss feel that you are continually saying the same thing over and over.  You don’t hear yourself and it’s frustrating to them. 

It is important to pay attention as to how you’re being perceived.  The vibe you give off has a direct impact on  advancing your career and your personal goals.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to be around an annoying person.  Take it from someone who thought she was being helpful, although I couldn’t help hammering points home, again and again.  Being anxious, controlling and insecure gives mixed signals.  Instead of making people more sympathetic to you, it turns them off. 

What can you do right now?  

1.  Be Aware.

Follow this analogy.  Body Dysmorphia is a disease where a person doesn’t see their physical self as they exist in reality.  This article on Bustle explains that it’s a much deeper issue.   Consider that you may have “Workplace Dysmorphia” and not see your actions clearly in business situations.  Sometimes, I overwhelm people with my excitement.  I didn’t see that my enthusiasm could be a turn off.  To start to change, I had to be aware that I did not see my habits as they appear to others.  Do you know how your behaviors appears to others?

2.  Breathe and Take a Moment.

This is always good advice whether you are entering a team meeting, an annual review or bungee jumping off of a cliff.  Take a moment, to breathe in success, breathe out fear and  ground yourself. 

3.  Apologize

Not necessarily for the behavior, but for the impact it has on others.  Tied together with awareness, you can tell when someone is not responding in a positive way to you.   In that moment say , “I’m sorry if we are not connecting right now” or “I see we are not on the same page right now”.  Or the line I often need to use is: “I know my ideas are overwhelming, lets start again.”  This will change the dynamic right away. 

4.  Ask for Help

From a friend or colleague you respect.  From your HR department, or from your mother.  Email me!  Ask others for information about how you come across and what would help you to be better heard and understood. 

5.  Replace it

Change your behavior.  If you are the one who keeps asking the same questions about yourself, turn it into questions about others.  If you interrupt when others are speaking (my most annoying habit) write down on a piece of paper what you want to say, instead of saying it aloud.  If you repeat yourself incessantly, say it once and count to 100 in your head, before you speak again.  

What’s Next:  Find a new behavior that doesn’t annoy others.  Take responsibility for your actions.   Understand that others may not grasp your intent.  Adjust your behaviors and see what happens.  What will you change today?

The Ultimate Guide To 4 things to Remember to Learn from Your Mistakes

What's next?  That was always such an easy question for me.  The situation was basically irrelevant.  I sprung into action.  I was on the ground running, ​brain and body immediately creating a road map.  And you know me; we are not talking about a straight line to a pot of gold.  This map was multifaceted with twists, turns and surprises.  Not much room for the unknown.  And usually it went according to plan. Usually until a few years ago.

​Last week, I had an interesting conversation with a Social Work colleague​​ about an article she read.  The gist, apparently as we age, we make more and more mistakes.  This was shocking to me.  Wasn't I supposed to be smarter, stronger, nimbler?  

As I thought about it, it began to make sense.  ​In my younger years while I honed my craft, raised my kid and enjoyed my life, I did things I knew how to do.  I got better at them over time.  Now, semi-retired, there are so many things that are new to me.   Suddenly, this making more mistakes thing has merit.  I've realized it is absolutely true for me.  Don't get me wrong, some of those early mistakes were doozies. Lessons long learned.  ​Now I am open to making totally new mistakes.  I'm in a space I've never been before.  This time being off-road means I travel without GPS and no maps.  What's next?  Usually a mistake... (and that includes proofreading!) 

​Research on being successful hails grit as the key ingredient.  I'm very gritty. I've learned it's just not enough. ​ ​​​My recent blog post on how to have a great second act​​​ takes a look at people who springboard from mistakes.  When I think about what's next ​and how to get there, I grit my teeth and say GGRR.  ​

The full GGRR explanations can be found ​in my Sixty&Me Blog Post.  GGRR isn't a roadmap, it won't tell you what to do.  It is a guide on how to use hindsight that propels me forward.  And hopefully you too:

1.  Learn to GIVE: Your SUPER PURPOSE™

2. GROW from your mistakes, don't just recover, evolve.

3.  Find you own REDEMPTION​.  Your inner peace.  That place where you are good at what you do and are truly comfortable in your own skin.  .  

4.  ​Know your  RELEVANCE​ and live it everyday.  

What's Next for you?



3 Reasons the Perfect Coffee Ritual Matters for Your Best Self

The perfect coffee ritual sets a tone for your day and gets you engaged, focused and grounded.  Good cup of coffee, good day.  Bad cup of coffee, not such a good day.  If you drink coffee, you know exactly what I mean.  If you don’t, pick your poison.   Day off, late start, retired, sipping that steaming cup of nectar with your ideas and thoughts swirling around.  Already at the office, running errands or in a meeting gulping that java while going over your mental to do list.   It doesn’t matter if it’s coffee, Matcha Latte, a smoothie or water.  This morning beverage gets you going and sets the tone for your day.

Originally published on my monthly blog on Sixty&Me where I blather about mindset, setting yourself up for success and taking what comes.  Really it’s the good kind of blathering.  The perfect cup of coffee is about balance.  Finding it, keeping it and tweaking it. 

1.  Get What you Want

Starting your day with a ritual makes you comfortable.   Being comfortable is key to being engaged. While I am not a fan of the “over a buck” for a cup of coffee, make your choice.  Know what it is, how you like it and what to expect.  This small ritual will put you in the right framework for the start of the day and let you worry about non-coffee related issues.  

2.  Maintain the Temperature

Just because you get what you want doesn’t mean it will workout.  Focus on the big picture and what else is going on.  We balance lots of things in a day.  Just be aware and know when to regroup, add cream or a little sugar metaphorically.  Go back and start again if you need to.  It’s just a cup of coffee – not the purchase of a car or a place to live. 

3.  Tweak It

Changes happen.  It is the only inevitable, everything changes.  Now finally in Spring the weather impacts your body and your mood.  Every change influences how you feel about your morning ritual.  It may be like it always was, but you may not feel it.  So make small changes.  Let me say that again, small changes.  Tweaks.   Tweaks will set you up for a better response to whatever comes your way in your day.  Still wanting more, supersize or have a second.  Problem at the team meeting, just make a small change – let someone else talk or let something that annoys you roll off your shoulders.  Make small changes for a big impact.

The perfect cup of coffee is about balance.   Remember these simple, easy steps to have an even keeled and perfectly balanced day.

Read the blog on What my search for the perfect cup of coffee-taught-me-about-finding-balance/ on Sixty&Me.

What small tweaks did you make today?  How did it go?

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What Everyone Must Know About the Bull on Your Team.

Do you know who the bulls are on your team and how to handle them?  Can you tell which team members are driving change and who is tangling-up the team process?  This blog originally titled Everything Looks Weak Next to the Bull is about how to get out of the way when the Bull is breaking all the China in the place.  It’s about those team members who are always raring to go.  They jump start the project.  They get things flowing.  They take a lot of credit for their efforts.  Eventually these are the team members who tangle up the process instead of driving it forward.  There are a confluence of factors that lead to this situation.  As a team leader or team member, you can learn to recognize the factors that stop process.  Learn which of these you can control and when you need to run and take cover.   Read the full article on Thought Leaders LLC.  to see why everyone looks weak next to the bull.

Sometimes the person on your team who is “driving change” is actually driving everyone crazy. How can you figure out the difference? What do you do when you learn they’re making everyone nuts?

1.  You Let Them Get Away with Whatever.

And I mean whatever. It doesn’t matter if you are the team leader or a member.  It’s too hard to stand up to them.  Actually, it’s just easier to not deal with it based on prior experience.  It will take too much of your time.  You can just deal with it later, whatever the fallout is.  Either way, they have the ball and you let them run, run, run.  And run all over you, they do.

2. Take Cover. 

You have that gut feeling that you will be collateral damage.  Run and take cover.  It doesn’t mean you don’t care about the team or the project or the outcome.  It just means you need to lay low until it becomes clear, how and what you can contribute.   There is an old saying for when a team member goes rogue “our job is to sell rope and let them get tangled”.  Because you care, cover your assets.

3.  Live with the Chaos. 

A certain amount of chaos during a new project is expected and during a change process, a given.  If you can’t live in the grey, then this is not the job for you.   Even when chaos is expected and real, it takes a talented manager to point the chaos in the right direction.  The direction that will align the team to work together and reach even better than intended results.  If you can live with the chaos, you can be the one to take the team forward when it counts.

Read the full article on Thought Leaders LLC.


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Featured in The Single Most Important Advice for Your Career

Good career advice and career guidance are like a good hairstyle.  You want to know where to get it and how to keep it.   The single most important career advice, after being competent which is a baseline “give-me”  is don’t annoy your boss.  If you learn the common mistakes most workers make, you can fix them and move up the corporate ladder.  If you annoy your boss It all boils down to one solution.   Honesty.  It’s that simple,  You can embellish, subtract and tone-it-down, albeit it all comes down to this.   A good boss can smell the BS cubicles away.  Fool them once, and there will not be a second time.   Honesty about your abilities, efforts, and work status is key to building your reputation and a good relationship with your  boss.  

Follow the logical career advice of why honesty is truly the best policy.  Or, if you must, follow the yellow brick road but, it’s the long way around.  Learn this simple career advice and be honest with your boss:

Your Boss will win the race

The Boss will figure it out, before you do.  Usually the boss has smarts even if you don’t see it.  This means unless you get a crash course on whatever it is you are lacking, a good boss will figure out that you don’t know before you figure out how to know it. 

Ask your Boss for face-time and career guidance. 

If your Boss is fair and not a jerk, he or she will value the opportunity to show you their way, teach a new skill and mentor you.  A good boss intuitively understands that employees value face time with them.   Therefore, they want you to learn from them.  They may not know you need the help.    Ask for what you need.

Learn to ask without being needy

This is a hard one for most.   Keep your voice, your mannerisms and your tone calm, cool and collected.  Don’t give long explanations.   Just ask for what you need.  For example:  “Can you show me how you would like the pivot table?”   If you ask, your boss will make the time to show you what you need or find someone else to help you.  

See the big picture.   

The boss has to see the forest and all the trees in that forest to keep the forest growing.  Know the type of tree you are and where you fit into that forest.  Make sure you keep your tree strong.  If you don’t get this advice, email me.   You need my help…..

This article in covers the 8 Worst MIstakes That Annoy your Boss More than Being Late.  It’s a quick read and worth it. 

Follow Tip #7 from yours truly:   You say you understand – when you really don’t!    It all boils down to simple honesty.  What do you think?  

I Crossed the Picket Line and Other Tales for Getting Over the Hump.

Thanks to the FastLeader Legion and Host Jim Rembach for a fast paced insightful interview.   Jim’s engaging style moments puts leadership into action.  Leadership is a hard won skill, once your get management right and impacts your workforce every day.  

Click here and listen to this upbeat discussion on the Fast Leader Podcast


ToTweet:  I helped the Fast Leader Legion get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow with @BeyondMorale – check it out at

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @talkism and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet 

“As the leader, you have to separate yourself from the pack.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet

“Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it meanly.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Avoiding, in an annoying situation is perilous to you and your organization.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Someone at work is going to annoy you, how can you be ready and not react?” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Setting expectations and setting boundaries is extremely important.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“People actually enjoy hearing no sometimes.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Pride of ownership is very important to success.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“How do you help your employees make that idea their idea, not your idea?” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“If employees feel they’re part of the solution, they’re going to be a lot more bought in.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Leadership is a righteous perk, once you get management right.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Good managers are leaders and good leaders are managers.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“What makes you a leader is working with a team, having a vision, and having them own that vision.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Everything is about the integration between my vision and how to put the pedal to the metal.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“I have an economic contract with my employees, and that’s the basis of our relationship.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“I need the job done, it’s not just about being friends.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Make sure you come with your joy and who you are to everything you do.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Most of us have careers that have blended our work and our lives.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“If you don’t bring the joy, what are you doing?” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“If you’re not loving who you are and how you do it, do something else.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Set the goals, watch the steps and bring your team along.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“If you don’t believe in your ideas, no one is going to.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“There’s always options, it’s our job to find them and make them work.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

Do You Know How to Get Things Done?

Insightful article on how to GET THINGS DONE.  Not just saying that because I am quoted – I’m quoted because I agree that managing process for your team is a cornerstone skill for leaders and managers.   Setting the tone and process for your team is always a timely topic, whether tweaking an old project or starting on a new endeavor – timing and process is key to success.  

Communicating with your team about the priorities is critical to organizational success and moving the work process forward.  Aligned Workplace helps C-Suite Executives, Business Founders and Managers hone their messaging and align resources and tools to get things done.  Being able to define the process to your team, breaking down the process and the hand-offs between departments/units/divisions is a key competency of good leaders.  Make sure you know how to get things done.  

Check out this article on the Wrike Management Blog that includes stories, & new approaches to work management,collaboration, & productivity.

Learn anything new? Let me know.

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