Monday, April 30, 2018


I have problems saying no.  Not that I have problems pronouncing it - it is just I often say yes when I really should say no.  The only thing I really have is my time and often saying yes takes that time.  It makes someone else's priority my priority.

Fairly good article in Entrepreneur article on this here.

One of my favourite thinkers and authors is Daniel Pink.  It is worth watching his Ted talk.

I recently read his book – When – the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

His thesis is – “Success has a lot to do with timing”.  He cites many studies that back this thesis up.  He also shares many ideas on how we can improve our timing and hence have more success.

I know from my study of Time Management that knowing your high energy times and spending them on high impact activities can amplify results.  He has a chapter on body rhythms and how to maximize the use of them.  I re-emphasizes what I know.  Use high energy times for high creativity tasks.  Work to create more high energy times (mostly through good sleep habits and exercise).  And use low energy times for “maintenance” tasks.  

He talks about the power of breaks and the power of naps (not yet good on that one).  And of course one of my favourite breaks – taking a walk.

He talks about starting right.  I have been lucky in my life.  I had early success.  That early success has provided momentum for other success.  I wrote an article on the Power of Momentum and believe in it.

He talks about the power of “new beginnings” and gives 86 days each year that are perfect new start dates – your birthday, New Years, Mondays, first day of the month etc.  The real message – create any excuse to start or re-start.  On a similar vein – he talks about the power of the midpoint, mid life, half way through etc.

One interesting technique he spoke about when writing a book – end each writing session with half a sentence.  Makes it easier to start writing again.  I am thinking I will use that technique on my next book.

A photo from Amy Dobbins Photography.  I don't recall giving her permission to take photos of my grandkids. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stop Selling and Start Leading

My wife, Elizabeth, won (yes she came in first) in her age group in the Boston Marathon Monday.  The day was miserable – cold and wet.  Personally I think this gave the Canadians a small edge since training happened in the cold.  Amazing feat.

On average Elizabeth and I ran 13.1 miles Monday – no wonder I am still tired.


Stop Selling and Start Leading by Kouzes, Posner and Calvert is my most recent read.

When I saw the title, I had wrongly assumed it would talk about marketing as a way to sell – I was wrong.  The book uses the principles of leadership and shows how they help create sales.   It talks about 5 Principles of leadership – Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable others to Act and Encourage the Heart.  It then goes through each principle – explaining what is meant and giving examples of how to apply it.  

As I read, I realize I am good at Inspiring Vision and my natural selling method is to Encourage the Heart (I call it just being yourself or being genuine).  The book is inspiring me to figure out how to get all of Danby thinking along the same lines.

Each chapter ended with summary points (another thing I like in good books)

I dislike the pushy sales type and the book aligned with my values.  No pushy closing tricks.  No deception.

Quotes from the book - "Exemplary leaders understand the power of words and chooses them wisely.” “They imagine that extraordinary feats are possible and that something special can emerge from the ordinary” (Interesting comment on being ordinary.  When I was growing up, my brothers and I decided my father was nothing special (he was not a policeman, a fireman, a heavy equipment driver – just a plain ordinary man.  Of course as I grew older, he became my idol and I realize he was special – not ordinary)  “Leadership is an observable pattern of practices and behaviors, a definable set of skills and abilities."

There is a whole chapter on “Experiment and Take Risks”.  This is not an area I need encouragement on.  If anything, I need more focus.

I particularly liked that the book had short stories illustrating each point.

Easy read (although I am behind in my reading list so it took a few weeks to get to it).  Valid points.  

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Secrets for Successful Start up CEOs

A start up CEO needs a different skill set than a growth CEO or a steady state CEO.  In most respects it is a harder role.  Recently I was asked for advice.  I have found it very difficult to know what to advise - all start ups are different.  And by nature - entrepreneurship is uncertain and there is no one right answer.

Some rules and secrets on how to deal with things:

1 - You have no money.  What if the office needs vacuuming?  You vacuum it.  What if you do not have a vacuum at the office?  You bring it from home.  What if you have none at home?  You borrow it.   Ironically, the highly frugal times will be the fond memories (I recall sleeping in my car to save the motel bill, I always took food, never bought tea or coffee since they are low cost to make etc)

2 - Should you spend time on vision?  NO.  Vision is just something you wake up thinking about and think about on the treadmill and while driving.  Time needs to be spent doing.

3 - Who sells?  You do.  Partly because you need the sales but partly because you need to listen to prospects.  You need to hear what they are saying - figure out what resonates.  More companies fail from low sales than any other thing (close second - overspending - see rule 1 and third - low margin).

4 - No Magical Thinking.  Some CEOs imagine they will raise cash or make sales but they do not do the work to make it happen.  CEOs who succeed do the work.

5 - "Successful people do tough things".  We all like to stick with what we are comfortable with but often what will move us forward faster is doing the uncomfortable, out of our comfort zone tasks.  This requires eliminating excuscitis (We cannot do this until this happens, or this did not happen because that - in the end, the start up CEO is responsible for everything - even what happened to them that seemed out of their control)

6 - There is no serial.  Successful start up entrepreneurs do things in parallel.  Be a juggler. 

7 - Know the big important things.  For most start ups it is cash and sales.  Work on the big important - and deal with the little things in the gaps.  This ties to time management and is likely why I wrote my first book.  I struggled with the juggling so had to devise systems to deal with the volume.

8 - Study and learn but filter advice and what you read/watch/get coached on.  I see many start up CEOs fail because they think they know it all.

9 - Your title is janitor/receptionist/sales person/order picker/shipper/customer service/accountant/collection clerk/delivery driver etc.  Do not fall in love with title.  Many start up CEOs like the title but not the work it takes to build a company.  If you want to be more than these titles - make money so you can build a company to do some of the other tasks.

It is all about being effective.  This is the focus. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Clocks and Life Forward

I had a wasted day yesterday.  Or perhaps a better way of looking at it was I relaxed and recharged.  One article I read (while wasting time reading) was on how much time we waste reading and how so much of it is pointless.

I do know reading politics these days is stressful (even though I do not do politics) and mostly pointless.

I have never been more excited by what we are doing at Danby Appliances.  We have a lot of innovation happening.  One new product is the Danby Fresh herb grower - an appliance that allows people to grow wheat grass, cilantro, parsley, lettuce, basil etc indoors all year.  And a great plant starter.

Being excited by work is one of the best ways to have energy.
Here is an interesting NPR article on job automation.  The job issue is a complex one.  I believe in the value of work and the respect that comes from being able to earn a living.  I also believe in free markets.

I like the gig economy (things like Uber, AirBnb) that allows people to earn extra money.  I worry though when those are the only jobs people have and can they get by on those.

And in the end, I believe in entrepreneurship and think people should be allowed to start and run businesses.


In the spirit of moving the clocks forward, I thought I would share this article on sleep.  One of the regrets I have from my first book on Time Leadership is I suggested sleeping less was a good idea for productivity.  I now disagree with that.

I like new years.  I reflect and change.  Clock change time is also a good time for that.  I reflect on what habits (good and bad) I have and changes needed.  I work out quite a bit but am thinking I could always up my game.  Sitting here blogging might be my way of avoiding getting to the gym (although I am dressed to go and all packed which is one of my tricks to make it happen)

And a book suggestion  - American Kingpin, The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road – Nick Bilton

I found it to be a page turner.

Hopefully not to give you business ideas - but just for interest. 

From a trip a while ago - my grand daughter - Tabitha.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Beauty of Discomfort

I recently read Amanda Lang's new book - The Beauty of Discomfort.  Great book - simple messages.

She told a number of stories of people who had suffered great adversity (like paralysis, blindness etc) and had still managed to become great successes in life.

There is a section on Linda Hasenfratz who has build Linamar into the powerhouse that it is today.  I enjoyed that section because it rightly pointed out the success Linda has had despite being a woman and the daughter of the founder.  I know Frank (the father) well and am also friends with Linda.

From a Harper Collins review:

Truly successful people don’t merely tolerate discomfort—they embrace it and seek it out again and again. Business founders and university students, top athletes and couch potatoes, meditation gurus and military leaders all have very different ways of coping with discomfort, but the most successful among them believe that withstanding discomfort is a skill that has helped them in hugely positive ways. Some were forced into discomfort through no choice of their own—a life-altering illness, a business fiasco—while others signed up for it because they had goals they were determined to achieve.
Some degree of discomfort is inherently good for you. It can spur you on, pushing you to test your own limits. Learning to tolerate, and then embrace, discomfort is the foundation for change, for individuals and businesses alike. Becoming comfortable with discomfort won’t just make us more resilient and more successful, however we define success. It will also make us happier.
I find when I read or think about a topic, I notice more things about that topic.  I read an article in the NY Times on "The Tyanny of Convenience".  One line "Convenience decides everything".  I know this at some level so often set my life up to make it more convenient to do the right thing - like eating right.  If the good food is close and available - I eat that.  If the bad food is - I eat that.

And an article by Chris Bailey "Chasing Discomfort" talks about unpleasant things often being good for you so you should chase them.  I know that was how I felt working out today.

We work on building a life with convenience then have to work at making ourselves healthy by doing the things we conveniently avoided (like driving instead of walking)

Something to think about next time I have to circle the parking lot at the gym to get a parking space closer to the door.

And eat your greens to be smarter - see this NPR article.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Want some grub?

I am just back from China.  Some business, some sightseeing/vacation.

I am writing this on the flight (of course cannot post until I hit live internet).  I find long flights are excellent times to think and reflect.

China has come a long way.  It is smoggy but not as bad as it was.  The automation in the factories has definitely increased a lot.  Quality is world class (and automation helps that).  Motorbikes are out – electric bikes are in.

After doing business, we spent a few days in Unesco Heritage site – Lijiang.  It is old.  None of the streets (all cobblestone) are straight and the old city is quite large so it is easy to get lost (although there are maps every couple of blocks which helps immensely).  

Lijiang is a bit of a tourist destination for people in China.  Very few non-chinese.   It is a great adventure to get by where English is very limited.  For example – ordering dinner when the menu is only Chinese.  Hint – it involves a lot of pointing and sign language.

Like many tourist towns, there was much duplication in vendors.  From a business point of view, I am sure they are business in a box because they all sell similar or identical product.  Many of the vendors are making the product they make and sell – ginger toffee, leather goods, flour cakes (sort of a small, sweet buns that sell for 10 cents), and silver smiths making bangles and jewellery and even some dishes/pots.  

Those who were not making what they sold were most often looking at their phones – absorbed in a movie or chatting.  And many of the tourists were doing the same while walking or eating dinner.  It really drove home the lack of social interaction smart phones can cause.  I am increasingly thinking screen time is making us dumber (except of course reading this blog).  

I did not have a problem with screen time in China since China banned Google in 2010.  This includes my gmail, my google phone, my blog (Google owns Blogger), any sites with Google ads (and there are lots of those), Google maps.  And it made me realize how much I Google things – Yahoo did work though.  And Bing does too but it was all in Chinese. 

I like to tour the markets and shops when I have downtime.  The deals used to be spectacular.   Now, prices are similar to North America or even higher in the high end malls.  I still enjoy walking through the open air farmers markets and seeing how things are different – we do not have a lot of live chickens, rabbits, fish or frogs at the Guelph farmers market.   Tofu was on display in 20 Kg blocks (you ask for a chunk and they cut it like a cheese market might do.  Tofu is a real staple in the population.

I like seeing what the street vendors sell and how they prepare it.  EG – using a blow torch to cook duck.  Lots of insects for sale on skewers or as part of a meal – grasshoppers, locusts, grubs, and larvae.  I attended Ideacity in 2016.  It was like a series of Ted talks.  One of the speakers from the science centre talked of the efficiency of raising insects to solve protein needs.  Her talk is here.  She spoke of the food value in them and how good they are for people.  She was trying to convince people to try them and was even trying to market insect burgers and products.  

When I see China already eats them.  And China has over a billion people, I think the best thing would not be to try to convince a few hundred million North American’s to not be squeamish but rather lets not change China to a North American diet.  I have always been looking for something to export to China since containers going from North America to China cost almost nothing.  So let me know if you have a good source of insects and we can start a new sideline business.

Contrary to what some would think, the cats and dogs are not food – they are, if anything, (over) pampered pets and there are lots of them.

I read an article on repetition and getting back to the basics that might interest.  The gist of it is we need to continually work to keep our edge.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

27 books in 3 days

I recently did a no internet or phone for 3 days Christmas with 2 of my grandkids.  The result  - I got 27 books read.  Some summaries:

Bring out the Best in Every Employee by Dan Brown and Bill Hawkins.  Good book - good studies on what works and what people want.  Good refresher since much of it is intuitive.

Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Very unrealistic and not many good business tips.

Distilled by Charles Bronfman.  A page turner for me.  The family that owned Seagrams went from glory to family infighting and losing their crown jewel.  Charles owned the Expos for a time.  I do not do sports but found some of it interesting.  And it covered much of his philanthropic endeavours.

Twas the Night before Christmas.  Not sure why I needed to read it again - I guess my grand daughter must have thought I forgot something.

Twas the Night before Christmas.  Yes read it again.  I thought children were supposed to have short attention spans but I was the one wanting to move on.

From Pain to Profit - Secrets of a Peak Performance Trader.  A self published book (so I found typos).  Suggested to me by my friend that runs BloomBoss.  98% of it was about psychology and how to think logically.  Interesting book.

Twas the Night Before Christmas.  This time I am wondering what the mice were supposed to be cooking and if it burned on since "Not a creature was stirring - not even a mouse"

Kidnapped by Robert Lewis Stephenson.  Can't be all business.  This was purely for leisure.  Slightly tough to read quickly because of the old English/Scottish.  It was still a good read.

Twas the Night before Christmas.  Who would have thought a 3 year old would know if you skipped a few pages.

Twas the Night Before Christmas.  I am worried Papa Noel (my granddaughter mostly speaks French) is not a good role model.  Over eats, breaks into people's houses.

Twas the Night Before Christmas.  I want to know how to slide down a chimney and get no soot on me.

Better Now - 6 Big Ideas to Improve Healthcare for all Canadians.  Good book by an MD who works in the system.  I agreed with 80% of what she suggested but not the other 20%.  Worth reading to just stay up on what is happening.

Twas the Night Before Christmas.  I am thinking I need to write a business book that rhymes.  It does make the reading more interesting.

Becoming your Best - 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders by Steven Shallenberger.  I had actually previously read this but wanted the refresher.  It is not a bad reminder of what we need to do.

The Zappos Experience by Joseph Michelli.  Great read.  Great reminder that culture is king.  Made lots of notes.  Will re-read.

Twas the Night Before Christmas.  I wonder - do you hit the NY Times best seller list by getting read 100,000 times or do you need to sell different copies?

Leaders Eat Last by one of my favourite authors - Simon Sinuk.  Definitely worth reading.  The gist - people are inspired by leaders who think of others and the good of the organization - not themselves.

And finally - you guessed it.  Twas the Night Before Christmas.  I wonder if I can get it on audio.

A picture of us reading...

Monday, December 04, 2017

In Praise of Brevity

I wrote this a while ago - repubilishing now.

“I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter” by Blaise Pascal (1623-62).
We are inundated with information. People are starved for time and as such they greatly respect and value short correspondence, articles and blog posts. People actually use the length of the message as a way to filter what gets read.
I do not say this just because I am a Time Management geek.
If you want people to read something, make it short and concise. A paragraph that runs five sentences long is daunting and there is a good chance that the reader will not read it.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Use simple, short words: They are easier to understand — so use simple English even if it offends your sense of literacy.
2. Use dashes to shorten up a sentence – most readers are not grammatical experts and value sentences that are more in line with the way they speak.
3. Use bullet points and numbered paragraphs – it keeps the meaning clear and organized in our minds
4. Lines and spacing: The more white background space on the page, the easier it is to read the black text. Double spacing text is easier to read than single spacing
Less text is more effective. And I could keep writing but that would undermine my point.
And since a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps including pictures negates this position on brevity?  And yes that is a Danby fridge on her apron.  She thinks it says Daddy.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Random thoughts and a free business idea.

Sears Canada is closing for good.  This will leave 74 malls without and anchor tenant (this does not include the 8 Home Stores and 49 Hometown Stores).  These are large retail spaces and it is unlikely there is another retailer big enough to take most of them.  Most established players like Walmart, Canadian Tire, Brick, Best Buy etc already have stores close to most of these. 

So what is the best use for this space?  Likely not retail which is feeling the crunch from online retailers.  The best use is likely some sort of experience based service like a theme park, go kart track, paintball etc.   The space would also make a huge concert hall or live theatre.

The risk is the cost to outfit the space.  And from a business point of view, you would need to figure out likely revenue vs the cost.

Steal this idea and do it.  I do not have the time to implement it (and am not much of a leisure guy so do not really understand what the market wants).
A part of an email I received on Networking:

The trick is keeping connected to your network, establishing mutual respect, general interest, humbleness (no matter how big you get) and a general promise of reciprocity.   (what I’ve observed with the intros you’ve made and the comments about you from those people)
You give more than you ask of people. Your time is very valuable and your knowledge/experience is invaluable to others. 
The network can be easily built nowadays, the responsiveness from your network is not. 

I think your success with your network also has to do with your commitment to your values.   Being yourself day in and day out and holding to your values.  People that have met you 20 years ago say similar things about your character/reputation to people that have met you months ago.  

People are willing to bend for those in their network who are genuine, authentic, who give back, and who they have respect for.

You’ve built that feeling in many people by the choices you’ve made in how you run your companies, interact at functions, philanthropic efforts, etc. 

It sounds scientific but it really is not.  I think it is partly part of personality.

I get some emails that "make my day"  (and sometimes ones that "make it more difficult").  I keep the "made my day" ones.  Sort of an extension of being grateful.
I sent a book to my daughter in the US to save cross border shipping.  My latest grand daughter is planning on writing a review on it.

Having too much fun:

A moving video:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The lucky vs the happened to them

I notice a pattern.  Successful people say they are lucky,  Unsuccessful people have things happen to them.  What I have learned is you need to choose the former.

I meet people who tell me about all the great things they did and how they did it all on their own.  It tends to be those same people who have things happen to them.  It is almost as if "everything I did was perfect BUT then something happened that was not in my control ..."

The moral of the story - give luck its due. 

I have been lucky in my life.


I was interested to read that Dysan is introducing a car.   It will be so great to have the streets cleaner.


Interesting article on refugees being the problem.


And only for those with a sense of humour (yes - I know I will get flamed for posting this but...).   Some people think guns have gone too far in the US.  See this.

My little girls:

Monday, October 02, 2017

Tabatha Ann

My daughter, Laura had a daughter yesterday.  Mom and newborn are doing well.  The only reason Tabatha is crying is because someone put that silly hat on her.
I do not do politics but the current state of affairs makes it hard not to comment.

I have a simple, genius idea to balance the Canadian budget and help benefit those least able to afford tax.  Raise HST/GST by 3% then pay all Canadians who make less than $35K 3%.  Anyone making $35K cannot spend more than 3% on HST since many things are not taxable sothey would be better off.

Balances the budget.  Saves getting the Canadian system too far out of sync with the US.   Saves Canada from increasing tax complexity.

I am worried the current track will create lots of work for accounting firms on how to work around paying 73% tax so in the end, the government will not get the 73% anyways.  Sorry to the accountants out there.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Lying to ourselves

I thought this article from Nathan Collier was good so:

5 ways we lie to ourselves

Confirmation Bias: We look for evidence that confirms what we already believe and we discount that which makes us uncomfortable. Related to the Belief Bias; evaluating information not on the worthiness or credibility of the source but more upon how we feel (i.e. our beliefs) about the issue at hand.

Framing Bias: aka Blinders Effect: We define a problem or situation too narrowly, we laser in on certain aspects (often the most emotional or dramatic) to the determent of other, more salient aspects.

Self-Serving Bias: The tendency to see success as due to our ability/efforts, failures due to bad luck or outside influences; based upon a need to maintain our self-image/self-esteem and protect our egos. Success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan; in any success in which multiple groups/individuals participate, each tends to ascribe the lion’s share to themselves.

20/20 Hindsight Bias: aka “I knew it all along”. We forget the uncertainty that existed before the event, now see what happened as predictable, much more inevitable. This bias undermines our future decision making ability and greatly hinders our ability to learn from events.

Attribution Effect: We tend to judge ourselves by our good intentions (internal), others by their behavior (external) or even by the outcome of their actions/behavior whether intended or not. Worse, our fears often lead us to attribute negative motives to what may be benign motivation or unintentional/unforeseen. Or as the cynical saying goes: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”
Closing Quotes:

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.” – John Dewey, 1859-1952, philosopher, psychologist, educational reformer
“Your job as a scientist is to figure out how you’re fooling yourself.” – Saul Perlmutter, b. 1959, astrophysicist, professor of physics, Berkeley
“Men judge things according to the disposition of their minds, and had rather imagine things than understand them.” – Baruch Spinoza; 1632-1677; Ethics, appendix to book I 
“When a man finds a conclusion agreeable, he accepts it without argument, but when he finds it disagreeable, he will bring against it all the forces of logic and reason.” – Thucydides, 460-395 BC


I was approached recently by a company - Crowdster that I had invested in.  They do web sites/social media/programs to help non-profits and charities raise more money more easily.  They were asking for advice on how to sell more.  My answer:

Random thoughts:

1 - Persistence works but you need to keep pinging people.   Send FB, Twitter and Linkedin updates.  Not advertorial but for the benefit of the reader - enough the people remember you.  And add in the odd email and call and it is long term persistence.

2 - Fail often, Fail fast, Fail cheap.  So trying different approaches and tracking success.  EG - option 1 - buy a list and email, then call.  Option 2 - advertise on FB to get a prospect then email then call.  Option 3  -attend a show etc - you get the idea.  With limited resources, i track it.  EG - I have 1 sales rep on "alternative" channels like kitchen gadget stores.  He might spend 10 hours calling in person and compare that to 10 hours spent calling on the phone compared to 10 hours emailing etc.

3 - Sites like GoFundme, Fundly, Booster, Indegogo, Giveforward, Pursuit etc seem to be doing well.  Any way to scrape leads from them?  Many of these are not charities - they are individuals raising funds to help a sibling who was in a accident etc.  Some % might want to do a more organized event.

4 - I believe in buying lists.  Any way to buy a list of non-profit or charities?  Or races (thinking most 5K's are in support of some cause) or walkathons or Danceathons.  

5 - Try to develop a second way to source business.  You have a process and success with what you do - you can polish it but what I am thinking is a completely separate approach.  Might there be a different way.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Growing @ the Speed of Change

I suffer from great blogger guilt.  I have not posted for quite a while.  Not that I have not been doing anything but...

I read a great book by Jim Clemmer - a famous local motivational speaker. The book is "Growing @ the Speed of Change".   Clemmer is a prolific author on leadership and motivation.  Clemmer is a story teller which makes the book more interesting - personal anecdotes interspersed with advice.

Clemmer is also a quote junkie like me so this book contains likely 100 great quotes.  Some of them:

Knowing is not enough, we must apply.  Willing is not enough, we must do -  Goethe 1749-1832

There is more to life than increasing its speed.  Ghandi

There ain't no answer, There ain't gonna be any answer.  There never has been an answer.  There's your answer.  Gertrude Stein

From an Amazon review: "The basic theme of the book is how to thrive in turbulent times. The first third of the book discusses and tries to convince you that change is actually happening at a great rate. One of the early chapters is even titled I Predict...More Unpredictability."

I loved the title since I believe change is the only way to move things forward.  I now at Danby Appliances sometimes I need to slow myself down to allow the organization to adjust to change.  Then I step back in and... more change.

A pleasant unexpected surprise was an excellent chapter on Quantum Mechanics that is worth reading just because it simplifies the theory.  You likely know most of it but the simplification and clarification is excellent.  Of course he uses it for leadership and business comparison.  And the next chapter even touches on string theory.

Much of the book is devoted to self development.  It seems a bit repetitive with all the other self help books out there.  Still - I always like the reminder.  As he says "Leader need a strong sense of self".

Good book - worth reading.


Lifehack posted the 15 most important tips from productivity books.  First tip - Don't wait for others to set deadlines - do it yourself.


Mom gave up her license and got a Harley.  Need to talk to her about wearing a helmut.

Monday, July 10, 2017

What To Do When Its Your Turn (and it's always your turn)

That is a title of one of Seth Godin's books.  Seth and I go way back - he was an early blogger as was I.  We communicated a bit in those early days before he became famous.  I also met him a couple of times at YPO events.  And we traded some email over a business venture he was coaching.  He is brilliant and insightful.

Like most of his books - What to do when it's your turn is about branding and marketing.  And to some extent - being remarkable.

When I first picked it up, it looked shallow.  It is a collection of articles - most only a page long interspersed with photos, diagrams, quotes etc.   The more I read, the more I liked it and the more gems I found.  I have a short attention span.  This book lends itself to reading a few pages at a time.  There is no continuity so you lose nothing by doing this.

There is quite a bit on failure (which of course I embrace).  Only those who try win.

I liked some of the pages on obligation.  No one owes you anything.  It ties into my recent blog entry about "What will you do for Canada".

Many of the pages provoke thought.  EG

"Motivation is for amateurs"  Chuck Close

"There is no terror in the bang - only the anticipation of it"  Alfred Hitchcock

"Fear is the mind killer" Frank Herbert

"How much do you get paid to watch TV?"

"The internet means you can learn anything you want, if you are thirsty enough to do the work to learn it.  We don't need badges."

Good book.
And for those interested in the brain:

And the grandkid pic of the week - this time with an efficiency tip included.

Elizabeth looks happy.  That must be because she does not know the next step is to go into the washing machine.  I do admire her mother for sharing my efficiency and do think it will be easier than giving her a bath - and gets the clothes clean at the same time.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

What will you do for Canada

Happy post Canada Day.

Danby has a couple of Canada Day things.  Our Canadian Translator is cute.   Would love to get that to go viral so please share it.

And this video on why we should be grateful - Danby New Canadians.  We are lucky.

This blog post is inspired by one Randall Howard wrote here.

Canadians, and others living in Canada, have the privilege of living in a great country.  It is safe, wealthy, fair, resource rich, clean, fertile and a good place to live.  Yes, we can find many things to complain about but those are all first world problems.

Where there are imperfections and problems, each Canadian can do a small part to help fix the problem.  The message is what problem might you be able to help fix?  By help, I mean what will you give up yourself (time, money, brainpower, comfort etc) - not just complain to try to force others to help.

My experience is people who help in one area, help in others.  The person who volunteers teaching someone English is likely to also pick up trash in the street.  The person who supports Heart and Stroke is likely to support United Way.  Being a good person inspires you to be a better one.

People like to give but not when forced to.  I view tax as the ultimate charity but admit that even I feel resentful at being forced to pay when I feel it is inequitable.

I like the high school volunteer hour plan... and I don't.  There have been many studies done that show once people are rewarded financially or with credits to do something that they no longer want to do it for intrinsic reasons.  See Daniel Pink's Ted Talk.

Having such a good country and easy life can make people start to think in terms of entitlement.  And dissatisfaction that some other people have better things/treatment.  I call this comparison dissatisfaction.

My best solution to this comparison dissatisfaction is to focus on gratefulness.   What are you grateful for?  Count your blessing daily.   Give thanks for all we have been given.  From a strictly practical view, this is better for your health - less stress.  It creates happiness.

I am big on borrowing good ideas.  So "Think not what your country can do for you - think what can you do for your country".

And of course - grandkid pics.  Notice the real baby lurking in the background.  And I included the one of her playing with a truck just so people don't think she is gender typed.  Although I do notice she seems to be way too gentle with it.  Not sure she knows at that age trucks are meant to be thrown, crashed and roughly handled.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Steps to Getting Your Steps

Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.

Mahatma Ghandi

To this - I say - possibly.  Or is it the other way around mostly.  Your habits become your actions, your actions shape your destiny.

I am a big believer in habits.

We are the product of what we repeatedly do.  Aristotle

One habit I am good at is getting over 10,000 steps in per day.   I actually do over 10,605.  5% more than 10,000 plus 1% extra since I alway do an extra 1%.  I average more than 13,000/day because I also try to do one day at over 20,000 steps.

I have blogged before about how much I love my Fitbit but there are other products on the market that also do this.  With Fitbit, people can see how many steps I do and I can see how many they do (if we are connected).  Part of that motivates me that I want to inspire people.

Some tricks:

1 - Most important is planning.  I review each day to figure out when I am likely to get those steps in.

2 - I love walking meetings.  I have a trail near Danby that takes 35 minutes to walk (including a short drive to the trail).   This limits my meetings to 35 minutes which is good for time management.  Walking is also very good for the meeting.  People are more equal when walking.  People think better.  

3 - I do the little "extra" steps.   I usually stop by other people's offices rather than phone (and I have a great bluetooth headset so never miss a call if I am out of my office).  I tend to make my tea at the furtherest coffee station.  I park far from the door (Except at work where people usually leave me a spot near the door.

4 - I usually walk at least 500 steps when I get up.  This is only 5 minutes.  Sometimes I get this by weeding or watering the garden (although don't worry, there are still lots of weeds).

5 - I just do it.  Sometimes I get home at 11 PM and am short steps so I have to head out in the neighbourhood.

6 - I play all sorts of games.  Like trying to string together the longest string of perfect days in a row.  Or walking a quick 1% of what I still have left in the day for a break.   Setting intra day goals - EG - 5,000 steps before lunch.

Better yet - just act like a child - allow them to be their natural selves and they will exercise.  So they need to be strapped in so they do not beat me on the steps.  Although in the case of Daniel, I am worried - he never gets any steps in.  He never walks.  Perhaps I need to have a chat with him.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

People buy logically - Not

Education is the most powerful weapon which
you can use to change the
– Nelson Mandela

But education is not just school.  It is more about learning.   I pride myself in being a constant learner and want that to be part of the Danby Appliance culture.

When I have a challenge, I devise a deliberate study plan.

I have learned about learning from my Syrian project.  You can learn some English in ESL school but those that thrive and do well implement a deliberate learning plan that includes not just sitting through class but learning.  They study.  They practise.

To learn English, we suggest ESL class, Duolingo (a free language learning tool), Mango Language (free computer learning if you have a Guelph library card), watching English TV with English subtitles, reading a few pages each day, English word of the day, conversation circles etc.  And study/work hard at it.

And much of learning is practise and just speaking English so interact.  It takes courage and it is work.
Speaking of education.  I am a big proponent of the "university in your car".  While driving, I always listen to audio books.  The most recent one was by a behavioural economist.  This is sort of a cross between a psychologist and an economist.   They study what people really do - rather than what pure economics would say.

The book is Misbehaving by Richard Thaler.

I love that the book is well researched and scientific.  Thaler is a university professor.  So many of the examples he uses are of studies.  For example - people who are buying a calculator for $20 are told by the clerk that the same item is on sale for $10 5 minutes away.  Most people spend the 5 minutes to save the $10.  The same experiment is repeated when someone is buying a $1,000 appliance and almost no one goes.  It is the same $10 so logic would say spending the same time makes logical sense but...

Another study was done on price differences for using credit cards.  When a gas station sells gas for $1 and says 2% surcharge for using a credit card - they are flamed.  When they price their gas at $1.02 and say cash price $1 - people love them.  But it is the same price.

When a store advertises buy 2 get 1 free, sales do much better than 33% off.

When a store advertises free knife with $40 cutting board, they sell much more than $10 knife with $30 cutting board.  The cost is the same but the sales are different.

I recall another book I read that had a study comparing free shipping to $0.30 shipping and the results were huge.  Even just $0.30 was enough to stop people from ordering.

Advertising and promotion is much about this psychology.

I have also thought a lot about value.  Some people can be "gamed" by the psychology but what really helps products to sell is offering a complete value.  People may say they want the cheapest product but in most cases they mean the best value.  So spending time considering what things consumers value and adding them to product is the best way to build sustainable edge in the market.

As a marketer, I find this subject fascinating.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Power of 3

There was a video that went viral on my Syrian project.  11,283,000 views so far.  I did not know videos could get that many views.  It spread on Facebook.

One interest side effect - other videos that featured me and this project also got more views.  Pervious videos increased by 200,000 views.

Not even sure why it went viral.  It helps the cause but also creates volume.  If even 0.01% of the people contact me, that is over 1,000 contacts.  I try to respond to most of them but...


I took a day out this week for a YPO HBS (Harvard) seminar this week by Boris Groysberg.  He was excellent.  Entertaining and challenging.  Prior to the day, we had homework (cases to read and questions to answer on them)

I always like taking a day out of my usual routine.  I wrote down a ton of ideas - many of them not directly associated with what was being covered.  My mind just goes into "thinking/imagination mode".

Not sure everyone at Danby Appliances appreciates it since I come back with a mass of questions/suggestions.

Spending some time on self development is a best practise that I highly recommend.


NY Times had an article a while ago about exercise.    Did not particularly like the title on best exercise for aging muscles since I am not aging.  The gist of it was - high intensity interval training is best (I do that), weight training is very good (I do some) and regular intensity exercise (I do lots) is still good.

Bottom line is what I always know - exercise is good.


The Power of 3

My to do list is a page long (and I use a small font).  I was listening to a book recently - The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey while driving that suggested a great time management tip that I have incorporated into my routine.

Every night decide what 3 things I hope to accomplish the next day.  Last night, for me, it was simply  -get caught up on my email (I was way behind), work out and do a blog (yes I feel guilty when I do not blog).  Then first thing in the morning say "what 3 things do I want to accomplish today" and figure out how to slot them in your day.

The key for me is to pick things that are big enough to move me forward but small enough to accomplish.  Gaining that balance took a bit of time.  I am one of those people who thinks I can get more done in a day than I can.

This simple practise has moved me forward.  Try it.


Monday, April 17, 2017

The simple 42 steps to making a sale

Many companies know who their target customers are.  In many cases their targets are limited.  For example - at Danby Appliance, we might target appliance stores.  There are only so many of them.  So the key is persistence.

One suggested process:

1 - call them and introduce yourself, get an email address.

2 - follow up with snail mail with a hand written note.

3 - stop in for tea.

4 - Connect with your main contact on Linkedin (I love Linkedin).  

5 - Send Daily or every other day Linkedin updates.  Not directed at just one contact.

6 - Call them again.

7 - email a follow up.

8 - send than a link to an article that might interest them.

9 - Send them something physical - some tea, chocolates, a pen, a hat, a mug.  Always with a personal note.  Physical things get noticed since they are not very common.

10 - Connect to everyone else in their company on Linkedin that you can.

11 - repeat steps 3, 6, 8 and 9 a couple of times. 

12 - refer them a customer.  People who you help succeed will help you succeed.

13 - Visit them with a product.  Nothing like showing them real products to build excitement.

14 - Take them to a hockey game, a play, an outing.

15 - Send them a baby gift (assuming they have a baby).

16 - Repeat steps 3, 6, 8, 9, 12, and 14.

17 - Visit their store opening.

18 - Have your CEO, COO, Product people etc meet with them.

19 - Do anything you can to help them.

20 - take them to lunch (I generally do not like this one - takes too long)

21 - play golf with them (again - too long for me)

Mostly - be genuine.  Be who you are.  People buy sincerity.

And keep doing this until you sell.  Why do I say 42 steps?  Just to emphasize it takes time and persistence.  Nothing beats having a relationship and being there when someone needs what you are selling, when an existing supplier messes up, when things are changing.

I have found many sales people just give up.  They take a few steps and are rarely heard of again.  Those who persist politely win.

The sales trick I am using here is sitting on my grandson Daniel so he does not get into things.  Like all happy customers, he does not even know he is trapped.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Happiness Equation

I just finished reading - The Happiness Equation; Want Nothing+Do Anything=Have Everything by Neil Pasricha.  It is a great book.

I like that the book started saying something like take what parts you like and it is ok to not agree with everything because I do not agree with everything.

Some of the ideas I liked:

1 - He believes in exercise.

2 - He has a concept of the 20 min replay.  When something goes well - replay it in your mind.  That act is like living it again.  It locks it into memory.  Of course the converse might also be true - do not keep replaying the things you want to minimize or forget.

3 - He like random acts of kindness.

4 - He talks about flow - concept I believe in and try to get to (although find it hard to achieve)

5 - He advocates 2 minute meditations.

6 - And he believes in Gratitude.  One success habit I believe is to have a gratitude journal.

7 - There is a section on the people who live in Okinawa.  They are known for longevity.  They have ikigai - a purpose to live -  a reason to get up in the morning.  He attributes their long lives to that, combines with their very tight social groups.

8 - One section on decision making suggests efficiency can be had by removing choice.  EG - have only black socks.

Concepts I am more on the fence on.  "do it for you".  He seems to advocate selfishness.  It seems to me the greatest pleasure is doing it for others.

Some Quotes from the book:

"I don't stand back and judge - I do"
"You can't have everything - where would you put it all?"
"Wealth consists not of having great possessions but in having few wants"  Epictetus
"Start doing something - you will continue"  (The power of momentum)

Tea time

Monday, April 03, 2017

Leadership Ego

In my last post, I spoke about leadership ego.  A friend then asked me how to keep leadership ego in check:

“Leadership ego is what kills most companies.”

I hear this message a lot, and try to live by it, but I haven't had much luck finding information on how to make this value actionable, beyond things like valuing ideas over seniority, avoiding a superstar culture, and empowering the people on your team to shine more brightly, even if it means personally being in the background.  

I responded:

Random ideas that help keep leadership ego in check:

1 - keep a gratefulness log and log what you are grateful for each day.

2 - Look at those much larger and more successful than you.  EG - every time I travel to larger cities, I marvel at how large the companies are by comparison to mine.

3 - I like reading business bios of people who have had great success.

4 - Study servant leadership

5 - learn something new every day.

6 - Do something that challenges you daily.

7 - know that if you "arrive", you are starting to fail.  I always think of it like a mountain.  Get to the top and you will head down the other side.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Great CEOs and How They are Made - The 7 Imperatives

I recently read a book by John Wilson - Great CEOs and How They are Made - The 7 Imperatives.

The first imperative - EQ.  I have long known EQ is critical for success.  I also believe in AQ (ability to deal with adversity).  I know my IQ is not as high as many people (hopefully than most of my staff) so have to make up for it with EQ.

The Second is Ability to Inspire.  I have thought often how I manage to do that and there is not a simple answer.  Part of it is having a great vision for the company.  Part of it is constant communication.  And part of it is "do the right thing".

The third chapter talks about team.  Clearly I believe in team.  Where I diverge is there was a lot of reference to A players - as if they just are A players.  I believe the job of a good leader to to make people into A players by process, systems, training, mentoring, inspiring and slotting people in the right job for them.  If I have C players it is my fault for not making them better.

The 4th is accountability followed by 5 - tools and KPIs.  In my mind these tie together.  You need the measures to tie with the goals.  He recounts a cute story:

”An Accountability Fable”
Four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody, have an important job to be done…and Everybody was asked to  do it.  Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about it because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody though Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done….and thus accountability was born”

Dan McCarthy, Director of Executive Development Programs, University of New Hampshire, Whitmore School of Business

And 7th is CEO connection.  No CEO should be alone.  CEOs need peers.  CEOs learn from other CEOs.  John runs CEO Global Network so has seen the power of CEO networks first hand.  And of course his book would speak to that.

Good book - fast read.