Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Do I have Downtime?

Good workout this morning. 5K fast and abs and back work. Nice and sore tonight.

David Daniels did an inteview with me which he posted on his blog.

Today I did my “Time Leadership” seminar to staff in Guelph. Many people had done it before so the turn out was not as good as I would have liked. Not everyone is as into self development as I am I guess.

Interesting questions from the staff like “What do you do for downtime?” or “Do you have any downtime?”. The answer is of course I do. Fortunately my assistant was there and stuck up for me that I actually do have a life. Tonight, for example, I played duplicate bridge with Elizabeth – a social/competitive game (We won first out of 13 tables).

Tip 2 of the 17 Powers of Time – Be 100% in the moment. High focus and attention can yield greater results. There is a return on attention just like there can be a return on investment. The greater the focus and attention – the greater the return. This rule particularly is important when you are with other people (I speak from experience). For example, I try very hard not to do email or handle paper while I am speaking to someone (note I say try)

I always say “Work while you work”. Why put in the time and not work.

This power is an interesting contrast to the Power of While. The key with the different Powers is to use them at the right time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The 17 Powers of Time

Easy day yesterday (except for the hayfever). I now find it easy when I stay in Guelph for the day usually.

I had feedback that I needed to mingle more so on my time sheets, I noted how many of my staff I interacted with. Interesting study. It should be easy for me to increase the number of people I interact with. I do notice the high volume of email I get and the solitary nature of much of what I do.

I thought I would use my blog to share the 17 Powers of Time.

Power 1 (and my favourite) – The Power of While. What can you do while you are doing … What can you do while you are driving. For me, I usually listen to audio books. Even with just local driving, I never cease to amaze myself with how many books I can listen to. What can I do while I am working out? I usually use this as a time of reflection and contemplation. What can I do while I am waiting for an appointment (usually I read or do email on my RIM)

So the Power is – What can you do while…

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The One Thing You Need to Know

Mostly took the weekend off work (except for a bit of email and my usual reading)

Instead of workout Saturday, I split, hauled and stacked a full cord of wood for 3 hours. (I also cycled to market and back but that is another story). Thanks to my friends Trevor (who also donated the tree that got felled by the storm last week), Randy (who owns every power toy imaginable including a splitter) and Steve (AKA chainsaw). Mostly I just filled the wheelbarrow with wood and moved it a few hundred yards. I enjoyed the camaraderie and the physical labour. Sore now and hayfever is bad.

I have been thinking a lot about leadership. What people need is a definite direction and vision. The odd part of my current role is I need to get buy in from California of this direction and vision before I can impart it.

One of the books I read this weekend is “The One Thing You Need to Know… About Great managing, Great Leading and Sustained Individual Success”. It talks about using people in the areas they are most strong in – a concept I am a big advocate of. It also talks about true depth. So often I worry about shallow fixes for deeper problems. I know there is great power in simplifying things. Sometimes we simplify too much and work only on the superficial without fixing the root problems.

Part of running a great business is full utilization of resources and being lean. Sometimes we cut too deep in order to try to achieve this goal. Cutting things too lean does not allow us to do a few of the “new” things required to move us forward. We are on the border of too lean right now.

I often say “Fail often, Fail fast, Fail cheap”. We need to try a few new things in order to have a secure future. To try new things needs a bit of excess resource.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Too Tired for Wisdom

Some people have told me I am arrogant to try to post wisdom anyways. I am beat. Too many long hours and the morning will come early. So will keep this short.

Usual hectic day with mostly meeting and calls.

This afternoon we did our monthly in depth numbers review. Lots of numbers. I am trying to figure out how we can all get more value from these reviews. It is healthy to make sure everyone involved knows their business. It does also spur some ideas and cross department communication.

I always thought I was highly detailed when I did EMJ. SYNNEX taught me otherwise. SYNNEX is even more detailed on the numbers, cost accounting, margin analysis etc.

I stopped by the warehouse on my way home tonight about 9:30. The survey feedback indicated that some people were not happy with the situation there. They also said they wanted to see me more. I asked a few people what I could do to help them and did get a few ideas. We have a good crew there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Joy at Work, Typing with your nose and breaks

I started the day being a bit late to my workout with my friend Trevor so had to cut the cardio work out down to about 20 min. Then we lifted weights. Now I can hardly move my arms and am considering typing with my nose. I am thinking I should find a new workout partner – perhaps a small woman who cannot lift much. Not sure why I always choose the power lifters to work out with.

Lots of meetings and calls today. Too much driving between offices (although I am listening to some good audio books). It is fitting that I would be listening to Joy at Work at this time of refection and action planning on the survey results. The gist of the message from the book is to allow intelligent people to use their intelligence and not make them into machines. I think our satisfaction and productivity will both improve as we begin to do this more.

I played duplicate bridge tonight with Elizabeth. We came in second. I cannot think of anything much but bridge, counting cards etc. when I play well. So my tip tonight is to sometimes give your brain a break. Do something completely different. A break can allow you to break through.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Survey Says...

Long tough day. It started with not feeling too motivated at the gym at 6 (probably because I stayed up too late last night) but I did do 45 minutes of cardio and a few weights. Then meetings, email and calls most of the day. Finally home for dinner at shortly after 9 and by the time that was done and a short cycle (trying to get used to my new bike) and a bit of reading, the evening went by too fast.

I got the results of the staff survey back today. We have our challenges. Half the staff are happy and think we are improving and half do not. This to me is a failing grade. I particularly pay attention to the comments.

What I was encouraged by is that I know how to fix most of the problems (not that it will be easy). We need stability. People fear for their jobs and income level. People are stressed by the changes. Adaptability does not come easily to people. People feel overworked and under trained.

Most importantly, we need to treat our people decently.

These are all things that I know how to do. I have challenges now that I have many bosses. If I am to be a proper CEO though, I need to figure out how to do the right things. Like I always say “Successful people do tough things”. I will fight hard to make SYNNEX a good place to work.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Summerfolk and Genius

Saturday. Ran 7K. Visited my parents. Picked up my oh so cool racing bike. I don’t yet feel comfortable with the shoes clipping in and out and the speed. Will need to take it out several times to get used to it. Then went to Summerfolk in Owen Sound. A folk festival. Elizabeth and I scooped ice cream for a friend who owns Mapleton Organic. (never hurts to have a back up career ready). Ran into one of my friends, Dave Reynolds, who also grew up in Woodstock (the Ontario town - not that folk festival)It was fun.

Today I had breakfast with my son, David who is going back to Western shortly. It was great to see him as he had been off for the summer working at a kids camp (Celtic). Then spend until now at work but not very effectively. Effectiveness is more important than efficiency. Today I was not particularly either. I spent the time but did not get the results.

One positive - I finished a great audio program today. “Discover your Genius” by Michael Gelb. He tells of the lives of a number of famous people (like Darwin, Columbus, Einstein, Ghandi etc.). I always love learning about the lives of great people and this is one way I keep myself inspired.

I think people have this idea that I am always naturally 100% and always inspired. Perhaps the reason I do so many things that I do (and talk about it so much)is that I find it a challenge and always need to push myself .

Friday, August 19, 2005

Found time

I presented my "Time Leadership" course to the Fremont management team. It went well.

I pampered myself by taking an afternoon flight back from Fremont. Usually I take the red eye. Perfect uneventful trip. Lots of audio programs listened to.

I did watch the movie - "Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe". Not sure I learned much except it sure does not match the book.

My tip for the day is there is no waiting time - just opportunities for found time. During the various waits and lines, I managed to get some good stretching in (I have been having a problem with one of my Calf muscles). Used my iPod to listen to some great audio.

Now - it is late and the morning will arrive early so to bed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Self development day

In Fremont now after an uneventful 5 hour (plus a short ½ hour) flight.

Yesterday was a self development day. Almost a holiday. I sat through the management training session that Larry and John did. Lots of talk about flexibility, adaptability, change, leadership etc. Inspiring. I then lead my Time Leadership course.

After a few quick meetings, I was flying. Read “Disney Wars” which is interesting, long, almost a business thriller. It tells of boardroom intrigue, company politics etc. Almost more of a novel. If you choose to read it, it will take a few hours.

I also read John Maxwell’s 17 indispensable laws of Teamwork. His books are always very quick to read. He uses a lot of sports team analogies. Makes many excellent points. Worth reading.

I also listened so some Zig Ziglar and Sun Tsu’s Art of War (which is a long one). It tells of high violence and very much a win lose approach. It also occurs to me that it is easy to lead through intimidation (mostly beheading) but truly great leaders lead through inspiration.

As I take in all this information, I realize that many of my thoughts are just synthesis of many other people’s thoughts. This can be one way I add value. I process high volumes of information. Much of the study that I do simply triggers other ideas. If I need an idea, I just read or listen to anything business related and often good ideas come to me.

Monday, August 15, 2005

No Time Tips Today

I left Toronto 40 minutes late Sunday night. Arrived in Philadelphia 60 minutes late and ran with my bags to the connecting flight to Greenville. Fortunately (I thought at the time), the flight was delayed by 30 minutes. Not bad I thought. Then they changed the departure time from 8:30 to 10:30 then 11:30 then 2:45. I am thinking, as long as I get to Greenville in time for my presentation. Then at about 1 they cancelled it. So I booked a 6 AM flight to New York which had a connection to Greenville that would get me in before 11. So no point in trying to get a hotel room. I could rest with 100 of my close friends (other flights were also cancelled that night) in the super comfortable vinyl chairs while they vacuumed and cleaned with the lights on full (Great energy saving idea – turn out the lights!). The morning flight was delayed 30 minutes but I did make it to Greenville with my most restful sleep being the 2 hour flight from New York. Total travel time about 20 hours by the time you take the wait in Toronto (Thinking how long to drive?). Perhaps the perks of executive travel are not what people think.

So finally I arrived at SYNNEX 50 minutes before the end of the training (Usually I would take 1:15 to 1:30 to do my presentation.) No problem – John Paget had covered for me and filled the time. I ran through it fast – finished on time.

So it really is true, I can give my Time Leadership presentation in my sleep.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Framing Challenges Positively

I am sitting in the airport lounge waiting to go to Greenville where I will be presenting my Time Leadership Seminar to management staff at SYNNEX.

I am just back from a mini vacation (1 day). We went to Cobourg to a 25th anniversary party of one of my YPO friends – Kym and Brian Reid. Spectacular view and awesome party. Arrived Saturday about 5 and checked into a great Inn (The Woodlawn Inn), Cycled a bit and went to the party.

We had planned to cycle today. When we got up it was raining. Not what I had envisioned. Cycling in the rain is still OK (although I was not sure if pedaling harder would help heat me up or make me cooler because of more wind – would be an interesting study). It is just a different experience. Still fun, rewarding and interesting.

This is similar to my EMJ/SYNNEX change experience. It was not exactly the way I thought it would be. But it is still an interesting experience and I am learning a lot. Sometimes external circumstances change our experience but this does not have to detract from it – it just makes it different.

I see adaptability as one of the most important success attributes. One of my favourite books is Adversity Quotient at Work by Paul Stoltz. He talks about how the ability to handle adversity is one of the prime predictors of success and also how to strengthen ability to handle adversity.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Simple Recognition

Thursday night meeting Chris (my daughter Beth's boyfriend) went well. Played some euchre. He seems nice enough.

Yesterday was a highly challenging day. I was given some challenging feedback and ended up adding a number of new complex problems to my tasks list. However, this is what I do well - solve challenges.

I did have one positive. I had sent a very simple thank you email to a doctor who had saved my ife me 5+ years ago (as part of my ongoing networking, I went through my contact list so it reminded me). She sent me an email yesteday thanking me for thanking her. I made her day and she now made mine. My tip for the day is simple recognition can have powerful impact.

Have a great weekend. I know I will.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Responsibility to Blog

Normal day today. Started with a 7:30 conference call and ended with a 9:30 one. Started in Guelph for a few hours, ended at Ronson. I also had a YPO meeting tonight. Good for professional development and good support. Great group of people. Inspirational.

Sometimes it weighs on me to blog. It, like anything can become a responsibility. I feel a need to be profound but sometimes I don’t feel profound. I just feel like a regular person.

Today my assistant gave me 3 books to read – probably 1000 pages. I had requested them but even I can feel daunted. Blogging inspires me to keep learning fast so I can share more and reading is one way I learn what to share.

Our world likes to set people up on pedestals and make icons and legends out of them but many of these people are not that much different than “normal” people.

When I was a child, I was sometimes embarrassed that my father was just a “plain ordinary man” – not a fireman or a policeman. This was the biggest insult in life – to be ordinary. I vowed to be someone great. Of course since then I have gained profound respect for my father for being the icon of ethics, work ethic, conservatism and moderation. (of course that did not stop my quest to be great someday)

I am a business philosopher. I found out today that philosophy means love of wisdom (from one of my audio books) So a philosopher is a lover of wisdom. That would be me.

Tomorrow I meet my middle daughter, Beth’s boyfriend. She has been going out with him for over a year and I have yet to meet him since he lives in Kingston. Beth swears he is a student but I worry that he is out on a day pass from a different institution in Kingston. And furthermore what is my little Beth (who is only 21) doing going out with a boy in the first place.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Nuture a Network

Long day today, even by my standards. At least I was home by 11.

I sent a couple of hundred emails today (well technically, Pam sent them for me but I did have to tell her who to send them to) so on top of my usual volume, I had tons of bounced back and many replies (go figure – send an email, get a reply).

So my time tip today might be “Nurture a Network”. By staying in touch with friends (and most of them are friends even though I know them most through business), I tend to get more business opportunities. So how does this save time? Maybe it does not but I still like the opportunities.

I am also in the middle of a deal (yes – the same one – just long and drawn out) which tends to be incremental to what I usually do. I could tell you all about it but I would have to kill you since I signed multiple confidentiality, NDA, never say a word type agreements about it.

The power of Dictation


Although I spent a few hours at work, I did not get much done. Too much time out of the office leads to too much busy work upon my return. I need to work on my systems while traveling to make me more productive.


I slept through my work out. Must have been tired (duh).

I did get to work before 8 though and had a highly productive day. This could partly have been that I had all the unimportant things done Sunday. My assistant, Pam, must have been swamped but she did a stellar job of keeping up with my output. I use a solid state voice recorder to let her know what to do. This has been one of my secret tricks that I have used for years. Although I think I type fast, I can speak much faster. Pam is set up to send emails that come from me. In a productive day, I (actually Pam)can send 40-50 emails. She also orchestrates my schedule which can also be a huge chore.

My time tip today would be to dictate if you can afford to have an assistant. It can more than double your output.

I read a great quote by Ralph Marston “To a large degree, the world around you is a mirror of that which is within you. You see what you look for. People treat you as you expect to be treated. The things you experience come from the actions you take.”

“With your thoughts and actions you can make it what you want it to be.”

Monday night, I did walk for over 2 hours. To my parents for dinner. My middle daughter Beth was also there. It was great.

Now I am going to run and lift weights.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Perks thanks to Acer

I did not get much done today. I slept for part of it. Generally I do not like to sleep after a red eye. I prefer to just get back into my normal schedule and go to bed a bit early the night I get back. Of course now I am wide awake when I should be getting ready to wind down.

I did manage to get in a 6.5K run and some weight lifting.

I also am excited to have ordered a new Triathlon bike. Actually this is the first real racing bike I have ever owned. I was doing my triathlons on my 20 year old hybrid bike. I also took the old hybrid in for repair (I think one of the bearings is gone). I cannot wait to get the racing bike. Perhaps I will do a short Tri on labour day weekend. I will not be able to use the poor bike excuse.

Tonight Elizabeth and I went to a Hamilton Tiger cats game with Terry Tomecek, Rob Dance and the Acer team. It was an interesting experience (even though Ottawa won big time). I consider it to be part of the charmed life I lead. I have been able to experience many things in life that many people have not. I cannot remember a week without some sort of charmed experience even if it is just a nice dinner.

Sometimes people ask me how many hours per week I work. I can never answer because what is the division between work and not. Was the game tonight work? Or was it a perk?

Friday, August 05, 2005

On Challenge

Preparing to head to the airport.

I am as up to date as I can be for being on the road.

My daughter Beth Estill asked me to promote one of her projects on my blog. Good to see she has a marketing flair. She is currently working hard to plan and organize Arts and Science Orientation week at Queen’s University. An important part of their week is devoted to raising funds for Shinerama, a charity which raises money for Cystic Fibrosis research ( ). If you have anything you would be willing to donate towards this very worthy cause, be it money or items for their raffle, please contact her at:

I had lunch with Bob Huang today. He commented that the distribution business is a tough business. I agree but also think most businesses are and need excellence in execution to win. It is this constant quest that will make us great.

And the thought for tonight (not a Jim Estill Original but modified from somewhere)

I do not wish for less challenge (or for the not so positive – less problems). I wish for more strength, tools, systems and persistence to overcome the challenges that come my way. I do not wish for more strength, tools, systems and persistence to overcome the challenges that come my way, rather I will strive to create them.

Positve Attitude

I am in Fremont now. Major travel hassle day getting here. Although I did have time to read almost all the material I had brought with me. I also listened to some great audio programs including programs on negotiations and gol setting.

One of the books I read on the flight was "How Full is Your Bucket" by Rath and Clifton, a grandfather (the founder of the power of positive thinking psychology movement) and grandson duo. The book is short and simple and at the same time, powerful. Very simple premise. People respond better to positive feedback than negetive feedback and become better as a result of it. One interesting scientific study cited claimed that people who experience more positive emotions live 10 years longer than those that do not. Part of my health bent is a desire for longevity. Perhaps I am just a wimp and don't want ot die but I prefer to think that I need longevity to accomplish what I hope to accomplish on this earth.

Yesterday was a detailed review of the US numbers. I learned some things and made some notes on where I can contribute. It does tend to be draining and time consuming.

Today will likely not be as full so hopefully I can stay on top of things more.

Tonight I fly back on the red eye.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Travel trials or opportunities

Once again, I am back in the lounge. I boarded the flight which was only 15 minutes late. We then sat on the ground for 2 hours with mechanical difficulties. The flight crew time expired (they were not allowed to work more hours) so now I leave at 1 PM.

This is a great opportunity to practise my "what is - is" attitude.

Also, this is precious found time. I have already finished all my trade journals, forbes and business weeks. Now I can start my book. I likely do not have enough reading material with me but I have a lot of new audio on my iPod so I am sure I will enjoy myself. Time tip - learn to enjoy the found time and always have things to do that are gratifying.

Air France Flight 358

It was good news that no one died on the Air France 358 accident yesterday. Also great that it likely had nothing to do with terrorists.

I was in my office at Ronson when it happened. It was close enough I could see the smoke. I thought for sure that it was a plane crash and thought that no one walks away from that.

I am flying to Fremont today. Will have to be a short blog since I had expected to blog in the lounge but the lines to get through customs etc. took forever so I am short on time. (of course when am I not short on time?)

I knew I was flying today. Before I knew the outcome from the crash yesterday, I knew I needed to practise my best Zen. What is - is. If I choose to travel frequntly (and I do choose this), then I simply have to accept those things I cannot control.

What is - is.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A Short History of Progress

Restful long weekend. I did go into the office for a few hours on Saturday and did work a few hours today. I feel quite caught up which is good since I go to California this week and usually fall a bit behind when that happens.

Elizabeth got a new bicycle on Saturday so we did have a cycle adventure on Sunday. 3 ½ hours of cycling (from south Guelph to West Mountrose) followed by an unfixable flat tire followed by a long walk and eventually a ride by the son of a friend (thank you Rob). It was perfect weather for an adventure. Moderation is not yet something I have mastered.

I finished 3 books this weekend. (I always speak in terms of finishing books since I tend to read 4-7 at a time. A few chapters of one then another, different books in different places for different circumstances.

My health book was “Body for Life” an old classic by Bill Phillips. It was good and inspirational although I disagree with some of his theory. For me, I would rather just eat real and healthy food rather than synthetic shakes. Part of maturity in reading is filtering information – accept the good stuff and filter what is not agreeable without rejecting the whole work. One method he uses that is great he calls the high point technique. I call it peak training. Progressively work at higher intensity until you cannot lift (or run) more, then reduce weight and then go to the high point again. I do know this is the way to gain strength.

My business book was “Fast Innovation” by Michael George. This work is based on one of my favourite books “The Innovators’ Dilemma” by Clay Christensen. It talks a lot about disruptive innovation. Major changes in process or product that can give a company an edge. In our case it is likely to be process that will be the disruptive change. One of the challenges we have a SYNNEX is we tend to sell a non-differentiated product. As such, the margins are razor thin and the business is “cruelly efficient”. Still we need to seek that disruptive difference that can separate us from the competition. The challenge in lean companies is they often lack the resources to innovate.

And my favourite of the weekend was “A short History of Progress” by Ronald Wright. Similar to another favourite of mine – “Guns, Germs and Steel”. The book starts with “Where do we come from?”, “Where are we?” and “Where are we going” and proceeds to follow this through from the stone age to the present. One of the theories he espouses is “sometimes there can be too much progress”. Like making explosives that can blow up the world. Or on a smaller scale, the extinction of a species due to superlative hunting and harvesting techniques. This is a fast and riveting read – highly recommended (even though it is primarily recreational).