Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Reality TV

The first 3 days of this week were a blur. Monday was normal meetings/calls etc followed by a Rolling Stones concert with Scotiabank. I don't even follow music but enjoyed it immensely.

Tuesday was in New York for the day.

Today was a RIM board meeting in the morning and normal catchup in the afternoon and evening. Doing some financial analysis tonight.

I have been thinking about blogs and why people follow them. One reason is they are a bit like reality TV. People like to look into other peoples' lives. Not that I have watched much reality TV. As a matter of fact my time tip for the day is to get rid of your TV. It is North Amerca's biggest time waster. I do not own one.

Or perhaps my time tip should be to eliminate temptation. I do not watch TV at home because I do not own one, so I am not tempted to watch. I do travel a fair bit and all the hotels have them, and I do turn them on when I travel - so eliminate temptation.

Of course that does not mean get rid of your computer because then you could not read my blog and besides I sell them.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Stewardship and Team

Great meetings in Calgary. Met with many suppliers and customers. Dinner Friday night with customers. Breakfast Saturday after a short run in Avenue Diner which was excellent. It is owned by the wife of one of our customers.

Then, long flight home and short visit with friends last night.

Today I have spent in the office so far just catching up. I do plan to work out though and go home around 4 or 5. We have a company golf tournament today that I was going to stop in for the dinner but I think I best take tonight off to prepare for the week.

On the flight back from Calgary, I read Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs. It was recommended to me by one of my environmentalist brother, Glen, as a follow on to Collapse that I commented on Sept 10th. Dark Ages is a fast, simple and thought provoking read. Sometimes a bit political. This is not my usual business reading, it is more social and environmental commentary. I study environmental issues so it was interesting to me.

I also read ">Stewardship by Peter Block. This is an excellent business book. The thesis of the book is empower people to make decisions. It also speaks about serving as a method of leadership. It talks about team interests as opposed to self interest (the belief being that a strong team is the best for self interest) I agree with much of the thesis of the book although it is somewhat counter culture to our current culture at SYNNEX (and perhaps more close to the EMJ culture). A large part of my role at SYNNEX is to help mould culture. Good culture can make a company succeed or fail. We are not quite where we want to be yet but are moving in the right direction. I know there are frustrations with where we are but I think if people really look at where we are relative to where we came from, they will appreciate that we are moving to where we need to go.

Based on the relatively aggressive recent schedule, I thought I would share my time tip for the day:

“Set a pace you can maintain forever, but sense of urgency pays.”

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Too Tired to Blog

Back this morning on the red eye from Fremont. Meetings until 3. Nap, unpack and repack (I am off to Calgary tomorrow at 7 AM). Duplicate bridge tonight (yes - some people call be Mr. Balance). I wonder if sleeping a few hours at a time instead of longer has any consequences?

While in California, I was given responsibility for SYNNEX Mexico in addition to my other responsibilities. I like challenge and this will be one. My concern is that I do not feel I have Canada to where I want it and so now just one more thing. But I am a team player and do what is asked of me.

I am thinking I need to travel less to be more effective.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Scientific Advertising

Long day. Started at 2 AM on the time zone I am on now. Missed my workout since I had to be at the airport early.

I love the time I have on planes. I choose to make it solitary time. Usually on the flights out, I read 30-40 trade and business journals(this lightens my load considerably). Trade journals read quickly since I read lots of them so there is a lot of repetition and so many articles I can skip. My time tip for today is take a speed reading course and my specific speed reading tip is 95% of any magazine or newspaper article can be gained by just reading the first and last paragraph. For flights later in my travels, I read books.

On the 5 hour flight from Mexico City to San Francisco, I read 3 great books. Two marketing classics by Claude Hopkins – “My life in Advertising” and “Scientific Advertising”. They were written in 1927 and 1923 respectively so many of the vignettes were very dated but quite entertaining and almost historic. One concept that makes him a kindred spirit is his belief that work can be as fun as any play. He was also a great believer in change and adaptability. He knew that historic success does not ensure future success. They both inspired me to rethink our marketing. I loved both books tremendously and highly recommend them(I am a marketer at heart).

The other book, Board Smart - Seven Keys for unlocking the door to Boardroom Excellence by Jim Brown of Strive! I read is yet to be published. I was proof reading it and offering suggestions. Although I had a few suggestions, the book is ready for publishing. Jim has studied many boards, done many many interviews and researched boards well. He is a good writer. It is a story about what makes a good board. Good governance is increasingly important. The days of the puppet board are becoming distant past. It used a fictional board example to illustrate best practices. The story was compelling enough to keep my interest. It was an easy and fast read. Board Smart is a highly recommended read that I believe will be a success.

Then landed in SF, did the airport rental car drill and drive to Fremont. Immediately immersed in board meetings and preparing presentations on my Mexico trip. The day went quickly.

Then out to dinner with the SYNNEX board and executive team. Now bed.

Monday, September 19, 2005


I arrived in Mexico city yesterday at about 1. Met with the SYNNEX Mexico people until the evening. We have a great office/warehouse with about 90 people here. Very high security.

Today I had meetings most of the day.

Although it is exotic to travel, the board rooms here are not much different than those in Canada. The meetings are also similar although slightly tougher to follow with the language barrier. Traffic is worse than Toronto and so travel in the city takes a lot of time.

My RIM works great here so I can keep up with email and calls. (so can we count that as a time tip?)

Up tomorrow at 4:30 to catch the ride to the airport. I go to Fremont to more meetings tomorrow.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

2 minute rule and Slush Folders

I am still in the office of a while, then to work out. Thought I would take a few minute break and blog.

Today, I am digging out of email. Dealing responsively to email and handling volume is a large part of my life.

One of the tricks I use is the 2 minute rule. If I can deal with an email in 2 minutes or less I do so immediately. When I am swamped, I reduce the time to deal with email to perhaps 30 seconds and sometimes what I do is just emergency scanning – 5 seconds. I move anything that will take me longer into a “TO DO” email folder. My inbox is almost always empty – I do not use that for filing.

Another trick I have is having a slush file. I simple have a folder labeled sept05 and if I am not sure I will need an email but might, I move the email there. Then if I get a call about something that I read in July, I simply check my July05 folder (and since I looked at it, I move it to Sept05). Then I can delete the folder if I have not looked at it in the past 6 months. I do not use my deleted files as a place to store emails.

So Time tips number 7 and 8 are – Email – the 2 minute rule and Slush files.

I am off to Mexico first thing tomorrow for 1 ½ days, then to California for a board meeting.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Think of Time as quality

Long day (6-10) although I did have a break for lunch with my daughter, Laura, who is taking her masters degree at U of Toronto. Great dinner (courtesy of Elizabeth who I appreciate waiting to eat until 10:30)mostly from our garden which has been prolific this year with carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, zuchinni and even cantalope.

I am tired from the past few days and the garbage still needs taking out (yes - even CEOs take out the garbage)

This morning I was at a seminar. One concept was to think in terms of the quality of time rather than the quality of time. Think of the major accomplishments or experiences of the past year. Usually they happened in 4 or 5 days or even 4 or 5 hours. Imagine if your productivity could be at the same level all year or even 3-4 times as often - how much could you get done.

One reason this concept excites me is thinking in terms of quantity of time by definition means scarcity. Thinking in terms of quality - we have lots of room to move.

It all comes back to Time Leadership. It is more important to move in the right direction than to move quickly. Leadership (goals) is about doing the right thing. Management(efficiency) is about doing things right.

So the 6th tip is "Think in terms of quality - not quantity of time".

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Quarterly Executive Meetings

I am just off the redeye back from California.

I was in executive meetings for Sunday (focusing on Canada), Monday and Tuesday. These are very detailed numbers reviews. Each time I attend one, I realize I need to get even more detailed than I am.

I always learn a lot and get ideas that we can implement. I always consider when I travel – did I pay for my trip? Actually I have to do a lot more than pay for any trip. I often think in terms of turn key costs. What does it cost to turn the key in the morning (IE daily expense). It is my responsibility to earn not only this but a small profit. In this case – absolutely I covered the overhead plus some.

But it is not all numbers. There was some good healthy debate around employee, customer and vendor satisfaction. I am gratified that the whole company is beginning to focus on excellence. Of course this is a process and nothing is instant. But like anything, continual focus will cause improvements.

The only challenge when I travel is I tend to fall behind. Especially when I miss my weekend like this past one. So best get at it.

Like the Indian proverb say "the best way to cross the river is to cross the river" or as the Nike proverb says "Just do it".

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I am in California in meetings today including a detailed review of my performance. A consultant did a 360 review. Talked to 35 people – peers, superiors (they had to stretch since Bob Huang is the only person I have ever worked for in the past 25 years so they used board chairs from some of the boards I sit on), customers and vendors. Interesting process and interesting results.

It sure highlights vividly any areas of strength or weakness.

I have a philosophy of working more and capitalizing more on my strengths. Of course I want to make sure my weaknesses are not show stoppers.

For someone like myself who takes self development very seriously, this was an interesting and worthwhile exercise. Now the work begins.

On the flight down, I read Collapse by Jared Diamond. This is an awesome must read book. It talks about why empires or cultures collapse. The author is an anthropologist/historian who obviously spent years researching the topic. He approaches the subject scientifically. It is a bit of a tough read (long and not well organized for speed reading) but it is the best book I have read in a while. I will not spill the punchline except to say that societies tend to collapse fairly quickly and that we need to care for our environment.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Challenging thoughts on Learning

My mother reads my blog. I think she is worried I am trying too hard to learn everything. She sent me the following quote.

"There are too many things to be learned, and life is too short to learn everything. Let us complete what we have begun rather than dabbling in many things."

-Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey,

Thought provoking.

Off to California today for quarterly meetings this weekend and next part of next week.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Art of Possibility and reframing

Long day yesterday 6 until 9 and I missed my workout.

I finished a book last night - “The Art of Possibility”. Great title but not as inspiring as I had hoped. It did have one quote that I liked. A great maestro, Herbert von Karajan jumped into a taxi and shouted to the driver “Hurry, hurry”. “Very good sir – where to?” said the driver. “It does not matter”said von Karajan. “I am needed everywhere”.

That’s the way I felt yesterday. Full of people needing my time. In person, on the phone and on email.

Part of how I deal with stress is by reframing. I could say “isn’t it awful to not have enough time.”. Instead I say “isn’t it great that so many people want me”. Much of stress in life is caused by how I think of things.

Lots of preparation for my California trip on Friday night.

Off to the gym now.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Katrina and the "Don't do" list

Sore from an aggressive workout this morning. Third in duplicate bridge tonight. Who says I am not balanced.

I think we are all touched by what we see happening in the aftermath of Katrina. It is horrific to imagine the plight of those who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their jobs and the life they knew. I am thankful for the employee who approached me to have SYNNEX contribute to the relief effort – we will be contributing.

I will not comment on the politics of the situation. Why – because I don’t do politics.

This is my time tip tonight. Have a “don’t do” list. This saves me a lot of time. I don’t do politics so do not have to go to political meetings, do fund raising etc. I don’t yet play golf; again saving hours (I could likely play almost every day in the summer if I wanted to). I don’t fundraise. I give generously and support others that do but I don’t currently fundraise. The better I know myself the better I am able to construct my “don’t do list”.

One way I do it is by tracking my time and logging what I like doing (and hence am usually good at) and what I do not like doing. Taking things from my don’t like list and adding them to my don’t do list is a great time saver.

Notice the word yet or currently. I don’t YET/CURRENTLY. This gives me to option to take it up at some future date when I feel I have the time or the inclination.

Bruce Johnson’s blog with further expands this topic.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I will dream Tomatoes and the 5th Power Tip

Sunday was a lazy day. No work out. Minor household chores (but not enough). Read lots though. Elizabeth ran/cycled a Duathlon (and won 3rd in her age) on Saturday but was not as tired as me and still went on a run.

Today, Elizabeth and I helped can 10 bushels of tomatoes. We are friends with an older Italian couple who as tradition invite a group over to make tomato sauce. Fun social time and enough tomato sauce for the winter.

Ran 5 K. Still feeling sluggish from the triathlon.

Now I am spending time on my goals. This is something I do quite frequently but there are 2 special times of year – New Years and now that feel like new beginnings so I spend an extra amount of time on them. I have a book that I keep my goals in. Reviewing them tends to keep me on track. It helps me come up with action plans on what the next steps are.

For me, I only work on 4-5 goals at once. Any goal that I am not prepared to spend at least an hour per week on cannot be a real goal. I constantly drop and add goals to my list as things are accomplished or become habits.

If you want to get from Toronto to Kingston, you will get there faster if you check a map first than by just driving 150K/hour.

This is my 5th Power Time Tip. Replace your clock with a compass. It is better to know the direction you want to go than to try to move quickly. Effectiveness is more important than efficiency. It is more important to work on the right thing than to simply work quickly.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Triathlon and the Power of 3 Goals

Yesterday I did the Guelph Lake Triathlon. I did the sprint distance which was 750M swim, 19 Km cycle and 5K run. I had not trained for it but, like a half marathon, I always want to be in good enough shape to do a sprint tri. It was my first time swimming this year. Sounds like excuses. My times were poor. 1:36:42 total.

The swim was hard and seemed long. Half way through the swim I decided I was not going to do another tri today. There is an Olympic distance (twice as far as the one I did) today and I had half thought I might do that today. I rarely swim in open water. Kicked many times unintentionally by the crowd. The water was choppy.

My cycle time was slow as I realized I need to get more comfortable with speed. I braked on some of the hills and was passed by 30 riders (although I did pass 10 or so on the up hills). I also need many more hours getting good with my shoe clips and gearing.

The run was the only part that I did OK placing 120 out of 385 with a time of 23:43. Not a record time by any means – partly because of the heat which I am particularly sensitive to. I figure anything under 25 after the swim and bike is not bad.

My transitions were slow and I should practice – 2:54 and 1:22 respectively. So I could feel bad because of my poor showing but…

This brings me to the next Power Tip which I read once in a running book. The Power of 3 goals. My 3 goals were to finish, to finish in the top half and to place in my age category. I finished so I did accomplish one goal. I was not in the top half (272 out of 385) and clearly I did not place. I use this trick in many areas of my life. On sales calls – one goal might be to introduce myself to their executives and explain more about SYNNEX, the second might be to win their HP business and the third might be to win primary status on all lines that we sell.

By having 3 goals, I can come away from almost any situation with a sense of satisfaction.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Third Time Power

The work out came early today since I went to the warehouse for a couple of hours after work last night and did not get home until almost 1. It was the end of our quarter, so an important shipping day. I am glad that I did not miss my work out.

The third time power (and I think my favourite) is "do the worst thing first thing". If you swallow a frog first thing, the rest of the day has to look better. First thing when I arrive in the office I look at my to do list and choose the toughest, worst thing on it and put in just 15 minutes on that task. If it is completed in that 15 minutes, great. If not, I give myself permission to stop doing it (although by then I often have momentum and just finish it). I have extended this habit to first thing after lunch also. Why not have 2 first things.

We are a product of our habits. This one habit has taken me further than most of my other habits combined.

Do the worst thing first thing.