Required Reading -- Training for Success

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Customer-facing employees have a lot on their plates. That can take a toll on health and mental wellness -- a fatigue that can impact the quality of service they provide and have an adverse effect on customer experience. In Executive Stamina, father-and-son authors Marty and Joshua Seldman parallel business management with physical training. The elder Seldman, a trained executive coach for more than 30 years, combines his business insights with those of son Joshua, an athletic performance coach -- and Editorial Assistant Lauren McKay didn't even have to break a sweat when she spoke with them.

CRM magazine: Where'd the inspiration for this book come from?

Marty Seldman: When under stress, [people's] diets get worse and they start going to the gym less. I've talked for years about how to combine both [business and athletics] with coaching. Most executives see themselves as having a mental job, but there's a strong physical component. Executives are scrutinized at all times and need to be "on" at all times. They need to be in top physical shape.

CRM: What about the balance between work, home, and health -- is it possible to keep all three balanced?

Marty: That's the heart of the book: "If you are too busy to exercise, you are too busy." Josh and I have taken that further: "You are too busy not to exercise."

Joshua Seldman: Fitness will save you time in the end. When people get stressed, paying attention to health can be the first thing to go. With our tips, not only do you maintain fitness, but you do so in a time-effective way. A lot of the workouts are short, but...the amount of energy that you get from exercise increases your productivity. It�s like having a really short saw to cut a tree: You take time to sharpen it, and you work that much more effectively. You reduce the risk of making huge mistakes.

Marty: [At] a certain point, one aspect of how you're judged -- and it's not always fair -- is image. Research shows that fit people are judged as being more capable. Fitness [also] gives you the mental capability to do more. People who don't exercise experience a drop-off during the middle of the day. Combine fitness and work -- coordinating walking meetings or reading work material on a stationary bike. If you're creative, there's always time.

CRM: What's the biggest mistake busy employees make in terms of nutrition?

Joshua: They yo-yo. They never really have a stable sense of energy. Instead of a muffin and cup of coffee for breakfast, have a whole-wheat bagel and juice. That gives you so much more of a stable output. If you start off with one good meal, you are hungry for similar good foods.

Marty: [You] make poor decisions out of fatigue. [With] too much caffeine or if you're too sedentary, you won't rest fully.

CRM: What advice do you have for people who feel like they're getting swallowed in work and don't see a way out?

Marty: Why wait to de-stress at the end of the day? There are [on-the-job] techniques that are invisible -- for example, slow, measured breathing is physiology designed to calm you down and it works.

Joshua: Identify [what] might be taking away energy; look at what you're saying "yes" to and what you're saying "no" to.

Marty: We [write about] "soft NOs" -- how to say "no" to save time, but still convey you're confident [and] collaborative.

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