In January 2019 I had the honor of presenting “Productivity Game-Changers for Chairs” at Chairworld in San Diego. My goal in presenting this information is to share what I have learned as a chair with others. We are all doing significant work. The more aware of the value of our time, the better we can protect it to be more effective and help more leaders. The following information includes the presentation deck, handouts, examples and commentary with links to additional ideas. I hope you find it useful!

What's an hour of your time worth?

1. How do I know what an hour of my time is worth?
Knowing the impact of an hour of your time will help you prioritize time more effectively. I use this with my members and myself and it has become a very effective tool.

I use my number everyday by asking, “Am I delivering $X value to my member right now? If not, what can I do differently?” I use it the same way when focused on my three things” (plan, coach, facilitate). I constantly ask myself, “What am I doing that someone else could or should be doing?”.

2. How do I maximize income by improving my utilization rate?
Design Your Time:
Begin with the number of hours per week and weeks per year you want to work. Then build an “ideal” work schedule. This gives you a target to schedule efficiently. Add in your annual income goals and calculate your income per hour target.

Capacity and Utilization: Enter the number of current members in each of your groups. Assuming 16 is full, calculate the available capacity you have in each group. Multiply it times the estimated income per member to get your available income by group. Total this across and down to help you find focus to optimize your income per hour worked.

Maximize Your Income: You will be able to see your current utilization rate and available income for the month and year. Look back with quick calculations on previous years to track your progress. Set a goal for this year and build the plan to achieve an optimal utilization rate and income per hour.

Over the last two years, I have been focused on recapturing my time and eliminating what I considered the top 10 time wasters for me. My income per hour has more than doubled from 2016 to 2018. I continue to find ways to both be productive and use my time for my priorities.

3. How do I optimize scheduling 121s?
Once you’ve established an ideal work schedule, you add meetings, 121s, VCG meetings and planning time. I start with meetings setting them for recurring days (i.e. first Thursday of each month). I add open 121 windows that are 1 hour and 50 minutes each. This allows me to run a few minutes over if needed. I have 42 monthly 121 windows.

Then I decide the area of town I will be in that day to accommodate travel time. I grouped areas into five zones (1-5 on map, color coded by group or coaching client). It took a number of months but I worked with members to reschedule 121s to better fit this schedule.

You can see my active 121 monthly view here.

A monthly view of my planned calendar

4. How do I make myself more available while protecting my time?
I use ScheduleOnce to connect open meeting times to members and prospects. At I open 26 slots for a 20 minute call. I generally set these for 8:10 am and 5:10 pm when I am driving to my first meeting or home at the end of the day. These are set up as recurring and when one is taken, it blocks the opening on my calendar. At I open 121 slots for members who need to reschedule. Once it is rescheduled I delete the previous slot and it opens it up for someone else. This enables me to work within my scheduling boundaries.

5. How do I cut email time in half?
I hate email! Email can be a huge time waster and pull you away from more important activities. I manage email in three ways; first, I use Spark. Spark is an app and desktop product that allows me to send email to the future. I use the phrase “send things where they go and when they go'“. Using this approach, I read email three times per day; when I wake up, mid day and end of work day.

Secondly, I have developed an Email Protocol. I add this to the end of my email signature so people will have an expectation of when I will respond. I do not treat email as urgent and let members know this. They can text or call me when urgent. I change my voicemail daily as well, (learned from Jack Daly). This adds to the expectations around communication and is valuable as a marketing impression.

Finally, I have a mindset of “Inbox Zero”, meaning I do not allow email to interfere with my focus and build up in my inbox. To model this for members, I do not email over the weekend or reply-all. Following this processed has dramatically reduced the volume of email I receive, allowed me to be more focused and helped members get control of their email.

What makes a great Vistage member?

6. How do I reduce member selection time with better members?
I am fortunate to work with some amazing leaders! I have developed a process over the years of member selection that hits the intersection of the right member and efficient use of my time. The selection process is as follows:

1) Candidate nominated by member or referral source
20 minute call with me to find fit
90 minute selection interview to confirm fit
Member selection team made up of current members
Attend meeting with signed agreement, yes or no

7. How do I use a website to enhance my brand and save time?
My website is an extension of my personal brand. Over the last few years, I carefully crafted my brand and built attributes to align with ideal member candidates. You can see my presentation on “Branding for Chairs” at Your brand starts with you, it is spread by how others describe you and is delivered by how others experience you.

My website was built using Squarespace. I’ve added to it over the years and designed the home page to highlight my brand attributes. I credit Jaynie Smith with helping me identify the strongest brand attributes for me as a chair.

My website is the starting point for anyone considering Vistage. Along with my Linkedin profile, Twitter account and Google search results, the webpage reinforces my brand attributes.

I also use my website to house resources for members and prospects. This list includes meeting schedules by group, upcoming speakers, Linkedin list of members, hosting information, venues and mid year or year end updates. Most resources can be found at

8. How do I get a 5X hour return with an admin?
My wife JIll and I had dinner with Jack Daly in early 2017. He got a kick out of being able to take a picture of “Jack and Jill”! In addition to spending time with an amazing person, I learned a great deal. Jack stressed the importance of my time and specifically as it related to an admin. He famously says, “If you don’t have an admin, you are an admin” and he is right.

I hired my daughter Linsay Humphrey, a former teacher and mom to our grandkids. Over the past two years, Linsay and I have worked together to develop the systems and processes to support me in just 5 hours per week. We focused on the biggest time wasters for me and created routines for meeting preparation, recap, communication, resources and follow up. We use Voxer to communicate.

Linsay recently launched Chair Support Services and is helping chairs with managing groups as well as website development. Email her at for more information.

Learn more at

Bringing it all Together

The Productivity for Chairs worksheet is built to help you bring this all together. Add in your impact number, work schedule, ideal work week, income per hour goal and available income. By knowing your utilization rate you should be able to build a plan to improve and become for productive and effective.

Essentialism, Greg McKeown
Getting Things Done, David Allen
Smarter, Faster, Better, Charles Duhigg
Atomic Habits, James Clear
This is Marketing, Seth Godin
Hyper Sales Growth, Jack Daly
The Power of a Positive No, William Ury
Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss

I hope this information has been valuable for you. Feel free to reach out to me with questions or set a call at Linsay is also willing to help and you can email her directly at We are happy to share any information we have that would add value to your chair practice! I have added other tools and ideas below that I’ve found useful.

Happy chairing!

Tom Cuthbert

Additional Information

Emerging Leader Group
In September 2018 we launched an Emerging Leader group. I’ve captured my build process and information I’ve learned at The group is a lot of fun and it adds value to our Vistage community.

From Here to There
I have been building a concept of “From Here to There”, how to grow leaders. I’ve presented this in both Keynotes and 90 minute presentations. More information and resources at

Business Journal Relationship
We have aligned closely with the San Antonio Business Journal. I have been speaking for them, most recently in “Smart Series” events. These are 90 minute presentations on a variety of topics (found here). They promote the event with several half page ads using my image and bio. We have had between 60 and 150 leaders attend the events. This has been good for brand awareness in the community and lead generation.

Trusted Advisors Group
Our Trusted Advisor Group launched in November 2016. It generated 14 nominations and 7 joins in first 12 months.  The group focuses on business growth and development for professional services companies. They support and interact with CEO members on a regular basis. I have the Sandler Training CEO teach a 30 minute session each meeting.  We share funnel's, networking ideas, tools, techniques and build referral sources. It has been a key part of our growth strategy.

Women in Leadership Event
In October of 2018 we hosted our first Women in Leadership event. The event was a big success with 130 registered and 111 in attendance. Most were not Vistage members and the event had a rating of 4.9. We had a steering committee made of of 8 women members and the MC was a CEO member of a non-profit.

A recap of the event can be found at and notes and ideas were captured at

Bullet Journaling

I utilize a Bullet Journal to keep track of goals, tasks, events, member notes, ideas and things I learned. I’ve been using an XL Hardcover Moleskine journal (Evernote edition) for several years.  After going Paperless in 2013, I went back to a journal in 2015.  The digital device (an iPad in my case) was a distraction during a 121.  Now, I never go anywhere without my Bullet Journal.  I added Rocketbook pages this year as well. Images and more information can be found at

We switched from bulky plastic nameplates to lightweight, custom ones we designed. The front of the nameplate has member name, company, year they joined, icons representing engagement and their Culture Index profile. The back has name, CI, questions (from Craig Weber) and reminders. Members love the nameplates and we use the Culture Index information often in group meetings. I like them because they are light and colorful!

New CI Logo 1.jpg

Incorporating Culture Index
I work with Doug Kisgen, my San Antonio based Culture Index expert. Doug and I have developed an approach for member selection and utilizing CI in our group meetings. When I have a member candidate, we send them the Culture Index survey. Doug will help me look for potential issues relating to the group. In group meetings, all of our nameplates (see above) have the member’s CI on it. Doug has come in and helped the group learn how to leverage this information to become a higher performing team. Contact Doug for more information at

Offering ReadItFor.Me to Members
Our members have access to a limited version of ReadItFor.Me. Read It For Me is an online service that reads best-selling business books for you and turns them into 12-minute animated videos featuring the main points. They are also a Vistage member company!

My members receive a summary of a current best-selling book every week, three book summaries each month (chosen by me) and a customized reading list for the next year based on their most important growth areas. I have arranged for you to offer this to your members as well.
Go to and sign up. (I have no financial interest in this).

My Flywheel
After hearing Jim Collins speak at Chariworld, I was inspired to build my own flywheel. I used his new monograph, “Turning the Flywheel” as my guide. The resulting diagram along with my Hedgehog Principles can be found at

In 2016 I started piano lessons. My mom was a professional pianist and always wanted me to learn. This was to honor her and challenge me.

In 2016 I started piano lessons. My mom was a professional pianist and always wanted me to learn. This was to honor her and challenge me.

Reflections and Goals
I set goals annually and share them with my members. My Vision, Mission, Lenses, Core Values, Value of Time, Three Things and goals (along with a video) can be found at Additionally, I require members to do the same. We use a Reflections document that is a look back on the past year. I review their goals and reflections with them in our January 121s.

Additionally, I scan them and email them to so they show back up in our inbox in December. Information on FollowUpThen (credit Dave Nelsen!) at

Business Goals for 2019
1.  Maintain 100% capacity all 5 groups with 85% retention, 85% attendance
2. Attend Chairworld, five VCG meetings, 10 hours training, read 20 books
3. Improve Vistage Chair Net Promoter Score quarter to quarter
4. Sandler San Antonio exceeds budget, open second location in new market
5. Achieve Master Chair designation and find ways to present and help Chairs

Personal Goals for 2019
1.  Lunch or dinner with Jill each week, 2 date nights per month, 4 trips
2. Limit work to 200 days, no weekends, 40 Fridays off. Sabbatical in July
3. 240 days at gym, maintain good labs and fitness. Weight lower Q to Q
4. Practice piano 3 times per week
5. Daily Bible study + BLE.  Make my faith visible to others

Eliminate Top Ten Time Wasters
(bold = completed)

1.     Meeting prep and supplies – Done by admin.  Resets boxes, nameplates and group binders

2.     Member selection interviews – 100% referrals.  Staying with selection process reduced hours by 75%

3.     Driving - waiting for fully autonomous Tesla!

4.     Rescheduling 121s and Selection interviews/ candidates – using ScheduleOnce
Link is (for 121s) and (for 20 minute call)

5.     Coordinating speaker materials –Done by admin

6.     Member host scheduling - Admin sends "How to Host a Meeting" and make a list of venues available.

7.     Remembering things and staying organized - I use a Bullet Journal and text ideas, notes and actions to admin

8.     Orientation for new members – Sent by Admin.  Developed a "Welcome to Vistage" email

9.     Meeting recap and attendance – Done by Admin

10.   Sending out members resources – Built a collection of common resources at

3842 2734 5 year award group.jpg

Other Ideas

Increasing group engagement - Business Canvas - Core Values - Member Commitments

Built a Resources page for members

Created a Linkedin list of members to help them connect with each other (examples: 2734, 4446)

Highlight Vistage membership benefits and build a checklist to increase activity - Benefits page

Create a new Check in sheet to surface topics, clarify focus and identify issue trajectory

Built a books page to share summaries and invite members to do the same

Lenses are guiding principles to keep us on track.

Use Lenses in my daily decisions to keep me on track >>>>>

Join boards and increase community visibility - Tech Bloc - (websiteGetting Uber Back) - SA Works (website / press release)

Produced a video series - Videos 

More group events and mixers - Craig Weber Event Recap - Promoting Upcoming Speakers 

Build referral sources - This has been an important part of our approach. I identify and cultivate 20 key leaders in San Antonio that are influential. I invite them to speakers, Summits and events periodically to keep Vistage top of mind.

Downgraded my first CE group to SB leaving me with TA > Key > SB > CE + Coaching + EL

Highlight reaching 100 members in September 2018 >>>>

Limit myself to 200 workdays per year.  I use scheduling boundaries to keep me on track

Created Google Maps of member locations to make 121 scheduling more efficient 2734, 4446

Calendar EVERYTHING (meetings, 121s, travel time, calls, gym, dates with wife, time with kids, naps...)

With my son rebuilding houses on San Antonio on sabbatical

With my son rebuilding houses on San Antonio on sabbatical

Teach a class on Time management and productivity to learn new ideas.  

Know what an hour of my time is worth and track utilization rate, time invested in service and my hourly rate

Use Pipedrive to track prospect and funnel management

Use the Tile App so you don't lose things

Take a sabbatical month (Mine is July) >>>

Utilize the #1 tool for follow up: Follow Up Then.  Helps put things where they go and when the go

Scan everythingFujitsu ScanSnap i500 Scanner 

Read Getting Things Done once a year

Get a stand up desk and stand on a balance board to keep my phone calls shorter

Use Dropbox to store files and Evernote to store notes and reminders

<<<<< Avoid Distractions

Take Uber or Lyft a day a month

frunk library.jpg