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A telecom leader shifts his communication and regains his life

Communication takes up eighty percent of any entrepreneur’s time, and a few years ago, I was drowning in it. Managing the daily onslaught of email and phone calls separated me from my family, sapped my enjoyment of life, and took away from the most important aspects of my work: leading my company and developing strategies for growth. I needed to retake control of my time and my life. 

Email and phone calls were stealing my time

Robert Hartline relaxing on vacationEmail was my company’s go-to method for internal information exchange, but it was a poor one. I could spend hours crafting the “perfect” message but still be misunderstood. To compensate, I spent too much time over-explaining, which made me neither a better communicator nor a better leader.

And the phone? I sell phones for a living, and I absolutely hated it when my phone rang. I’d stop what I was doing and take on the caller’s agenda as my own. Multiply that single distraction by 50 daily calls. The stress was incredible. Something had to change.

I decided to try video. Being in sales, I’ve always paid attention to body language, and I knew that video had power. It could inspire people, help team members build rapport with each other and with clients, and eliminate misunderstandings.

We experimented with FaceTime, video conferencing software, pre-recorded screen casts, you name it. Each method came with its own set of problems, whether it was the need to install specific software or travel to a single location to conference in via high speed internet. It wasn’t working.

But just as I was about to give up on video, an employee showed me Marco Polo. I instantly knew it was a game changer.

A playbook for streamlined communication

Robert Hartline recording Shift Your Time videoTo start with, Marco Polo is easy for anyone to use. And unlike the phone or other methods of video delivery, I could decide when and where to receive and act on information. I could also create and connect with groups, potentially eliminating the need for most meetings. The possibilities were exciting.

In fact, I first made the mistake of getting too excited and tried to roll out Marco Polo without getting my teams fully on board. They resisted or used the app inconsistently. So together, we created a playbook for using Marco Polo in conjunction with traditional communication methods. I shared tips for making them feel comfortable with the app and with video in general. And I stressed that using Marco Polo was not about me – it was about streamlining how we functioned, increasing our flexibility and free time, and improving the quality of everyone’s work life.

After that, my teams started to work more effectively on their own, and I started to get a lot more done.

If you want to get more done and do it effectively, you have to do it face to face.

Radical efficiency

Marco Polo has absolutely changed my business, and my life, for the better.

  • I now get one tenth of the phone calls and half the emails that I did eight years ago, even though my companies are substantially larger. The reduction in distractions, interruptions, and resulting stress is immense.
  • Daily all-hands meetings are a thing of the past. I’ve set up Marco Polo groups instead. For project management and updates, there is nothing better for me or my teams.
  • My company has grown from 100 to 400 team members. Marco Polo helped us create an enjoyable corporate culture that people want to be a part of. 
  • Increased efficiency and agility enabled me to focus on growth. Since we started using Marco Polo, annual revenue has gone from $23 million to $100 million.

Marco Polo helped create space for me to get things done – to think big, lead my teams, develop new strategies and tactics, and live my life.

Top 4 reasons Robert can’t live without Marco Polo

#1: It’s simple to use, with less chance of error than other video technology. We’ve all been in meetings with people who don’t understand how the mute button works.

Robert Hartline with family

#2: You don’t need complicated video software or a fast internet connection, and you don’t need to travel. I have friends that do weekly or daily “huddles” where everybody’s got to go to a certain location to call or teleconference in. And at 7:30 am on any interstate highway in America, you’ll see people stuck in traffic, going to an office to do work they could have done from home. That all costs time and money.

#3: It’s on demand, so you are in control. You can watch and reply to a Polo immediately or wait until you have the time and capacity to respond effectively. This helps eliminate rambling and bad ideas, two notorious productivity killers.

#4: It promotes honesty. Sales people will generally tell you things that you want to hear, and they’re really good at it on the phone! But when I’m getting status and sales figures over Marco Polo, I’m getting the truth.

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