Book Review of Off Balance by Matthew Kelly


For those who wish to accomplish more in life and experience greater personal and professional satisfaction, I highly recommend Matthew Kelly’s new book Off Balance.

Work-Life Balance has been a popular theme in contemporary writings, but Matthew Kelly contends it is not only unachievable, but  undesirable as well.  In this book Kelly lays out the very system he uses with his clients and himself to achieve personal and professional success, how to create an energy-rich life, and he provides us with a clear strategy to prioritize and accomplish our dreams.

Matthew Kelly challenges the very idea of seeking balance in our lives and he asserts that what we actually want is for personal and professional satisfaction, not balance. Balancing, he contends, prevents us from these satisfactions and he illustrates that we, like all who have achieved greatness before us, must make sacrifices in some areas to obtain this satisfaction.  Matthew conducted a survey that found people overwhelming prefer satisfaction to balance in both the workplace and home. “Over the past three years I have asked more than ten thousand respondents, ‘If you had to choose between balance and satisfaction, which would you choose?’ Not a single respondent chose balance over satisfaction.”

This is a great book for corporations to give to employees, as graduation gifts to those about to begin their careers, and for you to add to your personal library. Everyone wants

to achieve more and make the most of their life, and we all experience periods of frustration and loss of energy, and lack of direction and drive.  Now it is time to do something about it. Read Off Balance an put it to work.

I am proud to have met and befriended Matthew Kelly.  He is a wonderful encourager and friend.

Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation

including corporations, schools, churches, conferences,

and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.


ISBN: 978-1-59463-081-1

160 Pages

Publisher: Hudson Street/Penquin

Publication Date: September 15, 2011


Reward Commitment: Invent a buy-back program

I picked up my daughter’s basketball sitting

Deflated basketball

where she practices at home.  It was as smooth as an apple.  Useless.  All the bounce was gone, and it was becoming threadbare in some areas. I was about to toss it in the trashcan and get her a new one when my daughter stopped me.  She told me she was taking it to practice with her that day and that her coach would give her a new basketball. In fact, she elaborated, her coach would give her a new basketball for every one she wore out.  Wow! What a fabulous idea!

My daughter’s coach did in fact give her a basketball for every one she wore out, but more amazing than that is that her coach instilled in her a desire to practice, gave her a visual goal, and reinforced the successful habits of a committed athlete. Well done.

I incorporated that idea into my own life. I have been wanting a new laptop for some time. Not just any laptop, but the new MacBook Air from Apple. I have saved my money and all I need to do is place the order, but I made a commitment to myself to wait until I have finished the book I have been working on for the past two years. My current laptop used for writing will be replaced with the new one when the book is finished and query letters mailed.

It’s easy to become distracted, but there are techniques we can employ to counter them and become more productive, and I believe creating your own buy-back program is an excellent idea to meet your goals.

Discipline, focus, commitment, and training are the keys to success in any area in life, whether it be writing, sports, art, or anything else. The distractions become less influential when we have a clear measurable goal in front of us.

I hope you can find an area in your life that you can set-up a similar buy-back reward program. Perhaps you can use it with a friend or family member, or perhaps even with yourself.

Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation

including corporations, schools, churches, conferences,

and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.


Five Ways to Improve Your Customer Service

UnknownI just went through an uncomfortable customer service experience with The Ford Motor Company and the handling of their recall of my vehicle. While I understand recalls happen and improve safety, I believe corporations should recognize some very basic principles in the handling of their customer service. Customer Service is paramount.

Here is my advice about how you can improve your customer service:

1) Care. Customer service is truly that simple. Show the customer that you genuinely care about them, and that you’re not just trying to cover your butt. Recognize the importance of the customer’s time, and acknowledge its value. Show the customer you care about them, not the problem, not the product, not who’s right, but the individual customer. Care.

2) Answer the Customer’s Question. Don’t answer questions so guardedly and evasively that the consumer is confused. Don’t make the customer go through a series of handlers before getting someone that can actually answer the question. Respond to the customer’s questions timely. Unanswered questions makes the customer feel unimportant. Ultimately the customer just wants to know if someone is doing something.

3) Ask The Customer The Magic Question: What can I do to make this better? You don’t necessarily have to give what they ask, but if it is the right thing to do, I hope you consider it. The customer will at least feel as if they were heard. Perhaps the customer doesn’t even know what they want, and this line of questioning will lead to a solution. Listen to the customer. Keeping records does not make good customer service. Just because you took notes about our conversation does not prove to me anything is being done, nor that you even listened.

4) Offer Something The Customer Cannot Obtain or Achieve on Her Own Personalize the experience. Offer to do something the customer cannot do on their own. Ford offered to call the local dealer for me and the car rental place and make an inquiry. I had already done that. Living in a small town I asked them not to bother the dealer because the recall wasn’t his fault. I even asked them to document that request. It was overlooked and made me uncomfortable in my community. Again, listen to the customer. Don’t offer to do something I can do on my own, provide me with something beyond my ability.

5) If your Company has a slogan or motto, Live up to it! On Ford’s website it says: Ford: Drive one. Yet during the three months I was without my vehicle I was never offered one, even after I requested one. Ford hired Enterprise to provide me with a rental vehicle. Their slogan is “Enterprise: We’ll Pick You Up.” Yet, when I called them to schedule to pick up, they told me I was out of their delivery range. What!? If you have a slogan, live up to it.

I wish Ford well, in fact I own stock in the company, and I applaud the workers that build their amazing vehicles. However, Ford’s future success, and that of any company is not solely in their product, but their customer service. Sadly, my next vehicle will not be a Ford simply because they had me test drive a competitor’s vehicle for the three months of recall repair. (I share this post in hopes it helps Ford improve. I reached out to Ford through their toll free number, Facebook, and Twitter during my unpleasant Ford experience.) Recalls and repairs happen, but take care of the customer. For better or for worse, the experience will be memorable.

My local Ford Dealer was awesome! Each and every member understood and delivered excellent customer service. They followed each of the five suggestions for Great Customer Service above. The Ford Corporation however, didn’t deliver a good customer service experience at all.

A couple of my followers on Twitter shared these customer service suggestions:

@jcorppio on Twitter says : @kellycroy Best cust service concept: “I will handle that” and then doing it on time, with no negative nonverbal cues, even if you hate it

@grocer0123 on Twitter says: @kellycroy Well, don’t tell me I’ll get it tomorrow and it still not be here the day after tomorrow.

Click to email Kelly questions about presenting at your event!


Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event

The Lost Art of Letter Writing: Part Four of How Leaders Respond Timely

Mailbox iStock 000001202894XSmall5 I have embraced the power of technology and social networking but I have not been so foolish as to have abandoned the single most influential and personal form of communication available — letter writing. It still amazes me that I can send my words to someone thousands of miles across the country in such a short amount of time, and make an impact in their life, and perhaps even mine. Letter writing is indeed a lost art, and one leaders need to embrace and master.

Can’t afford to give your hard working employee a raise?Reward them with hand-written praise. Even a post-it note with a couple of well chosen words hand-written will go farther than your most skillfully worded email or text, because you’ve made it personal. You took time out of your day for them. You created something tactile. It’s art.

Letter writing isn’t just a skill, when it’s done correctly it elevates itself to an art form. Its power is only increased by the fact that so few others participate in its creation. Think about it. Nothing is more cherished in the mail than a hand-written card or a well worded letter. People receive hundreds of impersonal emails a week but perhaps only one personalized letter. (If even that.)

If you want to stand out and make an impact: practice, master and utilize the lost art of letter writing. People remember those who remember them.

Write letters. Write thank-you cards. Send a note of congratulations. Leave someone a personalized message of appreciation.

There are few things as exciting as seeing a personalized letter in your mail. Not a form letter or junk mail, but a real letter written by someone, just to you. You know someone took the time to pen this note. You stare at the envelope and wonder what is inside.

It’s Unique. No one else is doing it. Letters stand out. Wow! You took the time to do this for me!?!

Compliment: Corporations and organizations receive a lot of negative feedback. It is rare indeed when someone writes a letter to offer thanks or recognition. Sometimes they like to reward that. I actually received a phone call from the CEO of OGIO bags once because I wrote a letter telling them how awesome I thought their bags were. They loved it. I was invited to assist with a creation a triathlon sports bag. The product never got off the ground, but it all started with a letter.

To Thank & Congratulate: I am always mentioning my Moleskin journal in my posts because I know of its incredible value in my life. I always keep a couple of thank-you cards in the built-in folder in the back. I like being first to thank someone for their help or congratulate them on a success. I strive to be first and I strive to be memorable. Always write thank-you notes and send congratulation cards. It’s never too late. There is never a bad time to send a get well or sympathy card. Be on top of this!

Postcards: The power of a written letter is that it is personal. When you remove that personal touch and create a form letter that you mail to a hundred or more people, it is now reduced to junk mail. People just don’t have time for these. (Yes, I know there are exceptions.) My postcards are a little different because on the reverse side I have my art and that, at least for some, makes it a keeper and more importantly a reader. It is also very easy to personalize a postcard with one sentence and your signature. “I am looking forward to meeting you at this conference! ~ Kelly” A powerful one liner. Keep it short.

I recommend writing a letter a week to those you admire. Ask nothing in return. Just let them know you exist and you appreciate what they do. Practice your craft well. One day a door will open, and you will be remembered.

Be sincere. Be authentic. Don’t say what you don’t really mean. Keep your word.

You need to read well written letters. Study them. Practice. Enjoy the process. Find ways to make personal letter writing a part of your leadership practice.

Click to email Kelly questions about presenting at your event!


Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.

Virtual Leadership: Part Three of How Leaders Respond Timely

Screen shot 2011 04 28 at 8 19 49 AMA big part of leadership is presence. My first employer had this power over me to make me stand an inch taller when he was around. I wanted him to see my best work. I wanted to be a part of every project he was implementing. His presence alone inspired me.

I’ve heard conversations about who should really be “on” social media sites. Should leaders take part? Yes! Whole-heartedly, yes! If ever there is a place where people need to be held accountable, stand taller, and maintain high standards, it is within online social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Why? First of all, that is where people are spending their time. I just read a report that stated the average American spends as much time online in these social networks as they do watching television. Both numbers are high. Second, for some strange reason, some people mistakingly believe that they can lower their guard while online. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In reality, more first impressions are being made by a couple of search engine results before you ever get a chance to email, call, or write. Yes, leaders should be online and they need to know what to do. It doesn’t involve much time, there are shortcuts, and leaders simply cannot allow their online representation to be left up to chance or other people’s posts.

Twitter: An awesome resource for connecting with, networking, and learning from some of the best leaders in the world. You can ask them questions and they respond! No kidding! I recommend this as the number one social network to be on, and it is incredibly easy to learn and use. Did I mention it is quite enjoyable too? Hope we connect on Twitter. I use HootSuite to schedule future posts and sometimes connect those with Facebook using the hashtag #FB. I also use Instapaper to read tweets in greater detail later on my iPad.

Facebook: A great place to invite people to interact with you and the projects you wish to see completed. Another great place to ask for help and spread the word of upcoming events, and share information. This makes a great starter website. I have a personal page for my family and a business page for my speaking. Set a time once each day to go through your Facebook messages and posts. I make a playlist of about three songs. When it’s don, so am I. Next project.

Website: Having a web presence is important for any organization and leader. It could be as simple as a Facebook page. I recommend everyone at least purchasing their domain name if possible. From there you can build a simplistic website and add to it throughout your life. I have even purchased the domain names of my wife and my children. Don’t spend a lot of time tweaking it and getting everything perfect. What a time waster! Get something simple started. You can also make a great website from free WordPress.

LinkedIn: Not sure what is going on with LinkedIn. It recently has gone through a revamping. I don’t spend much time here. I add connections when asked but this site still seems awkward to use. I’m in, but waiting. It does have a decent foot in the door, but is lacking ease of use and easier connectivity. Waiting.

Google Search and Alert: You should add a google alert to your name. When someone mentions you on the internet, Google will send you an email.

Blogging: What a great way to practice and improve as a leader! Pick a couple of leaders you admire and follow there blog. Start your own blog to share your thoughts on leadership and inspire others. Leave some comments on other blogs and reply back to some comments on your own. Don’t live there. Posts should be aroudnd 500 words. Those blog posts add up and could become a book by the end of the year. Tag each post so that people can find you and connect with you. I use WordPress.

YouTube: Go ahead and use the camera on your laptop and record a short video once a month for those you lead. This makes great practice for you and resource for others. You will improve the quality with each recording. The videos should not be perfect. Don’t even try.

Emerging Social Sites: A word of caution, because there are so many emerging technologies that you can really lose a lot of time and productivity. If one seems interesting or has the recommendation of someone I admire, I sign-up for free and reserve my user name. I keep a distant eye on it and keep my focus on Twitter and Facebook.

Won’t this take a lot of time? No. Don’t live there. Set a time of day and a timer to reply and comment to those who had the courtesy to leave you a message. Just a touch and go of thanks and I see you. You can personalize this down the road. I thank people for commenting and ask engaging questions. I enjoy it and it doesn’t take much time. Don’t lie there.

My recommendation: Control your identity: Grab your domain name, and experiment with social media. If you are already there or find yourself investing too much time in it back off. Social Media can be a great place to work on leadership skills, but unmonitored it can really infringe on time spent on more important projects or with family. Track your time. I use the timer on my iPhone and walk away when it goes off. I know exactly what I want to do next. Think BIG projects. Social media is not a project. Learn the shortcuts around these social media sites and how they can interact with each other. For instance, you can tag a tweet on Twitter with #FB and it will appear on your Facebook page is you have that set up. The three pieces I feel everyone needs immediately are: Twitter Account, Facebook Page, and a blog. You get all of those for free.

In summary, virtual leadership is indeed important, but we cannot allow it to infringe with our leadership roles with our family, employment, and dreams. Use social media and online communities to enhance your real world experiences, not replace them.

Click to email Kelly questions about presenting at your event!


Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.

Phone Mastery: Part Two of How Leaders Respond Timely

kelly croy keynote

Leaders must be able to make effective phone calls. It always surprises me how poor some people’s phone skills are, but it shouldn’t. No one really teaches people how to effectively use a phone. Without practice making calls, how can a person improve? This post will help you master your phone and better manage your time. The calls I am referring to in this post are business calls not personal. Business calls need to be short and effective. Like my email inbox I want to keep my voicemail inbox at zero and return calls to an absolute minimum.

Answering: I always answer, “Hi, this is Kelly Croy.” It eliminates the other person asking if Kelly is available and me acknowledging I am Kelly and all of that nonsense, plus they immediately introduce themselves and state their purpose. I then thank them for calling, ask a couple of probing questions, tell them I am short of time, and will get back to them via email if that is acceptable to them. This eliminates future calls and frees up time. (This is also why I have multiple email addresses. You graduate to my personal email over time.)

Journal: I do not write notes on scrap piece of paper, on the back of napkins, or type them on the comptuter.(Rude typing noises is a big turn-off.) If this number or message is important enough to be written down it goes in my journal. Everything goes in the journal. Get and use a journal.

Keep it short: Track the time you are on your phone. This can be done with a watch, a timer, and most cell phones have elapsed time of call on the phone. Set goals at the start of the call. Let the person on the other end know that you have somewhere to be, someone else to talk with, or something else to do.

Twenty-Four-Hour Rule: If someone calls you and leaves a voicemail connect with them within twenty-four hours. It should be by phone if necessary, but if it is something that can be accomplished in an email, apologize for not being able to return the call in person, and stress you wanted them to have the information to them as quickly as possible.

Magic Hour: Make all of your calls before between 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM this is the magic hour of making effective use of your call. If you cannot at that time, the second best window is 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Mondays and Fridays are not the best days to call, however, stick to the twenty-four hour rule, and any contact is better than none. Make that call.

Closing the Call: Give them an action and a due date. I always end the call with whom is doing what when. For example, “John, it was great talking with you. I have a meeting in five minutes and I need to review some notes. I look forward to receiving your proposal by email before Wednesday of this week. I have noted it on my calendar. Thank you. Make your day great.” End of call.

Speaker Phone or Headset: Using a speaker phone or headset is extremely useful because it frees you up to do other things. (Like getting your inbox to zero.)

Voicemail: Use it. Let calls go to voicemail. Your voicemail system allows you to spend time with the people you love or get your work done. You listen to the messages all at once and write them down in your journal collecting the numbers. Return the calls you need to within 24 hours. There are occasions where this should not happen, especially if you have arranged a time for someone to call you. Obviously emergency calls and personal calls from family are the exception. My iPhone allows me to rewind and forward the message to any spot easily with the touch of a finger, and to choose the message I want to play first. These are great, great features. I can rewind to a phone number, or skip to the most important message first. Nice. I always let messages at home go to voicemail so I can be with my family. I listen to them, find out what is needed, record it in my journal and plan my action response.

Your Voice: Don’t underestimate the importance of your phone voice. I am a speaker and people want to hear that I can communicate powerfully, effectively, and clearly. They also want to know what I sound like, and how I handle impromptu situations. The same will be true of any leader. Strive for clarity and energy when you speak. Make people excited to talk with you.

Video conference: Skype, FaceTime, iChat and other video conferencing software are becoming more predominate. Give this thought. I recommend a headset at certain times. Give thought to your background and what you are wearing. Have a backup plan, like a cell phone number in case the technology fails.

If you feel your phone skills are lacking practice making business inquires, practice. It would be helpful to have someone evaluate your phone skills. Be a leader in all of your correspondence. Have the courage to pick up the phone and make things happen. Leaders respond timely.

Click to email Kelly questions about presenting at your event!


Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.

Dominating Your Email’s Inbox: Part One of How Leaders Respond Timely

KCblogdominateemailCommunication is essential to leadership, but how do we keep up with email, voicemails, texts, Facebook messages, Twitter, and everything else, let alone work, parent, and chase a dream? Without a plan it can be overwhelming.

Poor response times in dealing with communication can create some problems and a negative impression of yourself as pointed out in my last post, Great Leaders Respond Timely. And it’s true; great leaders do respond to all of their messages in a timely manner. Some have the luxury of assistants and a spokesperson, but most manage to do it all themselves, and so can you.

I would like to share some of the communication secrets I have gleaned from the greats, and a few I have probably mistakenly credited to myself, in hopes it will not only help you tame your inbox, but dominate it.

This will be a four-part series: Email, Phone, Social Networks, and the Lost Art of Letter Writing

Part One: Dominating Your Email Inbox

Here is the Email Rule: Get Your inbox to zero by the end of each day.

Here is how you do it:

Terminate Junk: I delete junk mail and forwards with a vengeance. If you forward me something, and it is really that cool, you can explain it to me when we get together. I only delete junk mail from corporations and silly forwards. I file everything else in folders.

Folders: I keep folders titled: Newsletters, Speaking, Financial, Orders, etc. that I feel I need. Keep your folder list to a minimum. You can search your folders for old messages, or your entire machine for the ones you need. I go into these folders often. I never, ever delete messages. Ever.

 Read, Respond, File: You read the email just once and then you either delete (which is practically a never), respond, and file, then move to the next, read, respond, file. Some emails don’t require a response.

Put the Ball in Their Court: I respond in such a way that they need to respond next. I don’t worry about the email anymore. I responded, gave them and action to get back to me when X is completed, and I filed it. These actions usually include a date that I need a response by, and a thank you, but you need to give them a command to get back to you for further action.

• Take Action: If the email is asking you to do something do it. If you cannot do it immediately respond immediately to the person and tell them approximately when you can, then add it to your calendar with an alarm and put it on the to-do list. I often respond with, “I received your message regarding a commissioned art piece. I have several requests ahead of you. I am adding you to my inquiry list. To remain on the list please mail a 25% deposit… I will email you once the deposit is received and an approximate date. If you are able to delegate it to another, do so, and respond telling them why you delegated and copy it to that person, and request notice from both that it is acceptable. If the email does not require action, file it.

Spontaneous Touch & Go: Isn’t it great when you get a “Just thinking of you message?” I send these out immediately if I see a friend reach an accomplishment or if I am indeed just thinking of them. Why? Because I sincerely like doing it, and I would like the same in return. Always be first to compliment, congratulate, and thank.

Accounts: This one is up to you, but it works great for me. I keep three email accounts, but all are accessible from any device, anywhere, and synced so when a message is deleted on one device it is deleted on all. I keep one email address for my family and friends, one for my business, and one for signing-up to new ventures. All of my messages go to one inbox.

• Optimize Email Organization Times: I complete 95% of my email management from my iPhone on the go. I delete and file in the checkout line at the grocery store, when someone else is driving, and whenever I have a moment to spare. I have a folder of attachments of frequently asked questions (most our about my speaking engagements) that I use with short personalization. Even more important is to schedule times that you do not check email. You need this, so setup no email times and locations and follow them. Your daughter’s soccer game is a GREAT example of where NOT to get the email down to zero. Do NOT make responding to your inbox your job. Move quickly and get that inbox to zero. If you find email taking more time than you want, just use your timer on your phone or microwave, or play one song in iTune, and get after it. When the song en or timer goes off, stop.

You can get your inbox to zero easily each and everyday. Remember you are not responding to an email, you are responding to a person.

My Next Post will be: Phone Mastery: Part Two of How Leaders Respond Timely

Click to email Kelly questions about presenting at your event!


Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker. He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired. Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.