Business Atlantic, Inc.
August 16, 2001
R. James Steffen
and Steffen Associates
CT 0681 0
on our conversation, I would like to offer the following observations about the
various programs of yours which I have participated in and/or used over the
years. Let me hasten to point out that the views expressed are my own and that I
am not speaking for IBM.
you know, I was involved in various aspects of education during about 15 years
of my 34 year career with IBM, including several Director assignments that were
either directly or indirectly responsible for training. We first met when I was
Manager of Executive Education with responsibility for training Customer
Executives and experienced IBM marketing people. I had nationwide
responsibility and managed the education centers located in San Jose, CA and
goal was to increase marketing productivity and customer satisfaction. Our
research showed that the more time a marketing rep spends with the customer, the
more they sell. A 5% or 10% increase in face-to-face time at little or no
additional cost could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
our target population was experienced marketing people, most, if not all, had
taken one or more time management courses already. But, we knew that some, if
not many, over time had developed bad time management habits.
also knew that increased productivity was not enough. Whatever we did to
increase customer and employee satisfaction. This would have to be the
motivator to get acceptance of any new tools for long-term improvement. We
needed a process that had the following characteristics:
A strong philosophical/psychological foundation for these experienced
The ability to increase productivity while adding to the employee's
Easy to learn and implement immediately with just two days in class
Most of all, simple to use with high long-term retention.
tested a number of courses from many different vendors. Some seemed great
in class. But we consistently got low retention/use levels.
heard you speak at a local Kiwanis meeting. I attended the SSA Time/Life Mastery
course, and felt it had all four of the above. I asked a number of other IBMer's
to attend the workshop. They came away with the same evaluation:
It was simple to use immediately
They experienced an increase in accomplishment and satisfaction in personal and
It changed their thinking and habits with long term promise, e.g. MIN (Most
programs I went to helped organize "to-dos", but the SSA Time/Life
Mastery seminar was a real system with the deep philosophical/psychological
pinnings we demanded. Because many of our people had a strong technical
background, a real system was important.
the same time, your system was simple to understand and use. When all was said
and done, you focused on just three critical questions to answer and one was
ready to begin. The concept of MIN (Most Important Now) has changed people's
lives. Experience proved they remembered it and continued to use it for a
you may remember, I was so impressed at the time that I even sent my wife and
two daughters to the "public" SSA classes at my own expense. Susan,
our youngest, is now a practicing physician and she gives your course credit for
helping her to get through Princeton and then medical school, by enabling her to
focus on her MIN. Barbara, our oldest daughter, used the MIN notion when she was
a dorm counselor in college to help confused and frantic freshman to get their
bearings on where to spend their time.
an IBM standpoint, Aligned Thinking used in the Time/Life Mastery Seminar helps
the individual align their individual needs to the needs of the customer and
company, a win-win-win.
of the success we had with a targeted group of people, we made it available to
the seasoned marketing people, used it with headquarters personnel and brought
it to the Far East when I was Director of Education for IBM's Americas Far East
all the initiatives IBM regularly had, it is hard to precisely pinpoint the
effect on the bottom line. We did get feedback that over 90% reported they
were more productive and over 90% said they were more satisfied. Remarkable
numbers, because IBMer's are not easily impressed.
have reviewed the new Time/Life Mastery course that is assisted by the Internet.
The Internet program gives a person, be they marketing or non-marketing, tools
that we never had in the pre-Internet version. These tools help solve three big
Constructing and regularly refining an individualized self-improvement plan
Creating and updating Professional and Personal Missions in a very short time
Consistently working smarter by setting priorities while avoiding some common
of this not only promises to increase productivity, but also helps a person
master the control over their time and their life.
the Internet tools, the teaching time has been cut to one day. Besides the day
saved, MASTERING YOUR TIME/LIFE on the Internet offers the help of a virtual
coach to review the self-improvement plan 7x24x365. I personally think the daily
coaching aspect is the key.
I was in charge of training my major concern was the actual building of new
habits. We always struggled for a good follow-up process to achieve optimal
retention and use levels. This new Internet assisted MASTERING YOUR TIME/LIFE
program has taken the concept of follow-up to build and retain habits to a new
level. I like the approach of having the participant receive three levels of
follow-up each week.
Daily - a list of the priorities they set or a reminder to work smart
Tuesday - a reminder of the self-improvement habits they are focusing on
Friday - an additional hint for Mastering Your Time/Life using Aligned Thinking.
me, because retention was the key factor in choosing a time management program,
MASTERING YOUR TIME/LIFE with the Internet to help has to be a natural.
closing, I thank you not only for supporting my efforts at improving
productivity at IBM, but also for the very positive impact you have had on my
personal life and that of my family.