Friday, February 24, 2006

No Sleep Pill and RIM/NTP

As a director of RIM, I was pleased to see that no injunction was granted in the patent lawsuits. All of the NTP patents were rejected as well. In a sense it is unfortunate that the legal battles take the spotlight off the great things RIM does. They have developed one to the great and new technologies of our time and truly changed the way people work and live.

Some day, this will make a good book.

Speaking of new technologies, there is a new pill that will allow someone to sleep deeper and better and get a full nights sleep in only 2 hours. Interesting time management tool?

I have often said "Sleep is for wimps" and have often used will power to limit sleep to reasonable amounts. Some have said "You can sleep when you die".

As with many new technologies, I am conflicted. In this case I want the result but worry about the long term effects. The conflict of efficiency vs health guy rages and in the end the health guy will win so no pill for me.

Good leaders think long term.

Technorati tags -

Thursday, February 23, 2006

6 Ways To Lead The Best Life You Possibly Can

I did my time management seminar this morning with about 50 people. Good group. I was inspired to set an even better example. In keeping with efficiency, I found this article on the internet that I thought was excellent (and it saves me time and I need to get back to my classroom (see the last point in the article):

6 Ways To Lead The Best Life You Possibly Can

By: Dan Preston

For most of us our daily lives seem to repeat day after day with little or no noticeable change. In the morning you get up, commute to work, come home, go to sleep exhausted and then start the whole process over again the next day.

The only thing really happening is were all getting older.

While preoccupied with our daily routines, we sometimes fall into a trap where we really don’t care or realize that there is a world full of excitement just waiting to be discovered.

It is now time to change your outlook and pull yourself out of the daily rut called life...

1) Face Your Fears – There are not many people in this world that like to do things outside of their comfort zone.

Whether it be a fear of pain, fear of failure or whatever it may be, in order to grow as a person we all need to step out of that comfort zone and push ourselves to do more so we can become more as an individual.

2) Treat Others As You Would Like To Be Treated – This is such an old saying that has been repeated time and time again, but unfortunately its one that is not practiced often enough. Far too often we lash out at others because something is not happening in our favor or we let greed get the best of us.

So the next time your about to let off steam or do something you know is wrong, try to pause for a second and just think how you would feel if someone were about to do the same to you. It is hoped that you will see more clearly and choose a more compassionate approach when dealing with problems.

3) Don’t Blame Others For Where You Are In Life – As hard as it may be to accept, everyone is where they are in life because of the decisions they make from day to day. It is far too easy to put the blame on others for our troubles and misfortunes when in fact we are in certain predicaments because we have allowed ourselves to be pulled into them in the first place.

The next time your looking to pin the blame on someone else for the troubles you are having, try and be constructive in your thoughts to overcome the obstacle in front of you and accept the situation at hand as a learning experience.

4) Look For And Bring Out The Good In People – When involved with people in our daily lives it is way too easy to pick out a persons faults or wrong doings which in turn always seem to overshadow the good.

The next time your dealing with someone that you really just don’t care to strongly about and for whatever reason it may be, try changing your attitude to a positive one and attempt to shift the mood by being kind and courteous to them in hopes they will see their faults and in turn give you the same respect that you deserve.

5) Be A Giver – A person’s greatness is measured by what they do or give to other people in need, while not expecting anything in return.

No matter if you just give your time, knowledge, or a helping hand, the gratification of knowing you did a good deed should be reward enough for someone who is a true giver.

6) View Life As A Giant Classroom – Everyday you wake up treat it as if it were your last chance to learn about the things you want to know about.

View the people you work or interact with as your classmates and no matter how little it may seem, all have some kind of life lesson you can use to develop into the person you want to be.

About the Author: Dan spends alot of time working on his internet ventures. He currently has a T-Shirt store at and an ebook store at

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

CEO Success transitioning from founder to CEO

There are interesting discussions at Rick Spence's and Noam Wasserman's blogs on successful transitioning from founder to CEO (or small to big company)

Naturally it makes me think. What do I need to do to successfully transition?

I have been actively asking this question and studying for the past year and a half when I did make a fair leap in business size (EMJ was about $375 Million and now SYNNEX is over a $ Billion). I have not been studying the question though of what traits make for successful transitioning, rather I have been very specific on what I needed to do to be successful.

A partial list of what I needed to do was:

1 - As always, I need to think bigger. It used to be a $1,000,000 line would move the needle. Now, I really need to think bigger.

2 - Since I am a time person, I knew I needed to refine my time systems to handle increased volume. I continually tune my systems but this was one of the biggest one time leaps in re-tuning I had to do.

3 - I needed to get other people to make decisions. Organizations fail if every decision needs to be done by one person. This involves the discipline to not make some decisions that I know others should and can make even if I could do it easily.

4 - I needed to seriously consider where I might add the greatest value and leave areas where the value I could add was low. This involves trying to assess the areas that are competently handled and letting those areas work without interference. The decisions might go all the way from making a change to coaching people to completely letting others handle it. The key is to try to figure out what areas need what.

5 - I needed to figure out and address the needs of all my bosses - the customers, the vendors, the staff, head office, etc. Much of this involves trying to understand their needs. It is also about communication.

6 - I needed to understand a new culture. Choose what I liked and choose what areas to polish. SYNNEX is way more detailed on cost accounting than EMJ was so I needed to dig deep into that. EMJ was more vision based so I needed to start some of that at SYNNEX.

7 - To grow, I needed to give things up. This can be tough. Things might not get done exactly the way I want. I need to fight battles that are cultural (like doing stupid business) but not fight things that might just be different than the way i would have done them.

8 - Larger companies need more replicability. They need to be able to scale what they do. This means good processes that can be repeated. This can be tough on entrepreneurial spirit. But again, if the idea is big enough, then I take the cahllenge to come up with a process.

I am still learning and will think further on the issue.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Corporation

I read a book on the weekend called "The Corporation, the Pathelogical Pursuit of Profit and Power” by Joel Bakan. It seems a bit surprizing that I would read a book that is very anti-corporate but as I got into the book, saw that the primary view is that the corporations are not immoral, they are simple amoral. Any social responsibility that a corporation takes should be for the good of the shareholders is the thesis behind the book. “Executives who choose social and environmental goals over profits – who try to act morally – are in fact, immoral.”

As a marketer, I always look for any insights that I can get from books and although the book is certainly not about marketing, it does talk about the “nag factor.” The following is an excerpt:

Then, during the National Hockey League Stanley Cup play-offs, my son nagged me again, this time to buy him a 24-pack of Labatt Blue beer. He absolutely had to have the plastic Stanley Cup replica that came with the 24-pack, a promotion he had learned about from an advertisement run frequently during the games. Labatt must have known that the young children would be watching the Stanley Cup play-offs with their parents – it’s a national ritual in Canada – and also that most adults would not be enticed to abandon their preferred brand of beer to obtain a plastic Stanley Cup replica. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that part of the company’s aim was to get my son to get me to buy its beer – which it did.

In buying that beer (and being nagged to buy the Kia SUV) I was an unwitting victim of the Nag Factor, a brilliant new marketing strategy that takes manipulation of children to the extreme."

I have always been an idealist, not only for companies, but for people. The book does challenge my thoughts in this regard.

I still believe that being a responsible corporation is good for the corporation and the shareholders. The goodwill fostered in the supplier, customer and employee communities can pay dividends. When in doubt, I often give personally and let SYNNEX take the credit.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Be Thankful

Today I was a pall bearer at one of my good friends’ funeral. Christina Tyson died at age 36 of breast cancer. She is survived by two young sons and her husband Greg Bobier. There is a calendar being dedicated to her.

I have been fortunate in my life not to have had to deal with the death of very many people who I have been close to. It helps me to realize that I should be thankful for those people that I do have in my life and let them know that more often.

Days like today put any other "tough" days in prospective.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Search - Googles rise

I read an awesome book yesterday. “The Search - How Google and its rivals rewrote the rules of business and transformed our culture” by John Battelle. I always find it inspirational to read about people and companies that do great things. Of course it is technology which I also love. And it is modern business history. One of the things I like about being on the RIM board is seeing technological history made first hand.

It is amazing how a company like Google can come from nowhere to being a meaningful part of most peoples’ lives in only a few years. It is equally amazing to see which companies drop by the wayside at the same time (like Excite).

The Search explains the good and the bad about google. Their internal statement is funny “Do no evil”. As if you need to state that and much more why be proud of this obviousness. Even with this internal statement, Google has had some interesting brushes with ethical issues (like selling trademarked key word searches to the highest bidder even if they do not own the trademark and even copying copy write material)

I enjoyed the intrigue stories of small entrepreneurs whose business had come to depend on Google who were wiped out as Google tries to stop people from cheating themselves into higher positions. The Serach explains how many people and companies try to cheat the system to get better placement and even click fraud to gain advertising revenue (interestingly Google benefits short term from click fraud also so it is a double edge sword for them).

It also sheds light on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and solidifies the conclusion I was coming to which is there is not right way to optimize a page. So I basically just ignore it. There is a whole subindustry selling SEO – much of which is questionable.

As far as gaining traffic, I find things like the Globe article and more recently an article I wrote on Carnival of Entrepreneurs get me more hits (and hit traffic continues to be high).

Thursday, February 16, 2006

IQ, EQ, AQ and now Executive Quotient

I recently read an executive book summary on Executive Intelligence – What All Great Leaders Have, by Justin Menkes (so one of my time tips might be to read executive summaries, although I don’t generally like reading executive summaries because they tend to not speed read easily and they often are one person’s interpretation or synthesis of a book. When I read the book and I compare it to the summary, I often get different information from the book.)

The thesis of the book is although IQ is a great predictor of probable success on the job, executive intelligence involves more than just IQ. The thesis of the book is that there are three primary intelligences that the executive has to have:

1. Task intelligence – the ability to find problems, solve them, and move them forward.

2. People Intelligence - the ability to communicate and get along with people – recognize conclusions and motivations of individuals including emotional interactions.

3. Self Knowledge - great leaders need to know themselves. They need to pursue and encourage feedback. They need to understand their strengths and their weaknesses. (and of course, I view life as one big quest for self knowledge so definitely can buy this one)

I have always liked books about the Qs. One of my favourite books is AQ on adversity quotient therory -- adversity and the ability to deal with it is what makes people successful. I am a great believer in EQ Emotional Quotient – the theory to get along and communicate with people is more important than other Qs and of course it would be great to have a high IQ. I am sure there are a lot of other Qs.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me to mind my Ps and Qs; and I have a good start on the Q's.

Planning Day, Snow and fairness

The snow storm certainly cleared out the Y today. There was lots of free equipment. Because the strom did not start until about 5, the snow removal at SYNNEX is not done yet which makes for a mess. Trying to clear snow with cars is not fun.

Yesterday afternoon was a planning day. This is the first time I have done one of those during the week. I did allow myself not to be disturbed and interrupted though and ended up doing email and taking calls so it was not as good as I had expected (although it could be that my expections are too high)

I might be violating one of my rules of blogging - only blog when I am positively inspired. I am upset and depressed. One of my dear friends, Christina Tyson died. She was about 40. She is survived by 2 young children and a husband, Greg Bobier. Sometimes life does not seem fair.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentines Goal Setting

The internet is an interesting and viral space. I was profiled in a Spanish blog by Claudio Bravo today. Looks positive from what I can understand of it.

What better time to set goals than Valentines day (OK so I don't need much excuse to set goals). And using one of my time tips by "borrowing with attribution", I found the following article by motivational speaker Ed Sykes:

Romance Your Goals: Seven Secrets for SMARTER Goal Setting

By Ed Sykes

It’s that time of the year when you are motivated and ready to take on the whole world. You know you need to set goals, but in the past you have set goals with mixed results. However, this year will be different. This year you will be S- M-A-R-T-E-R to romance your goal setting.

Romance your goals? What am I talking about? Think about a great romance you are experiencing or did experience. What makes or made your romance great? Passion. Well, we are going to create passion for your goals by applying these techniques so that you will achieve more in life.

The following are seven secrets to romance your goals for success:

When you were searching for romance, you had a specific idea of what type of person excited you. Suppose someone asked you, “What would this person look like?” or “What qualities or attributes are important to you?” Most likely you could, with out even blinking an eye, describe what type of person would excite you. In other words, what person would create passion in you? You probably visualized how this person looked, sounded, acted, and even smelled. Because you visualized this mate, “You would know it when you saw it.”

Apply the same techniques to your goal setting. Take the time to visualize exactly what you want to accomplish. Take a few minutes, find a quiet place, relax, close your eyes, and think about what you want to accomplish in life. What is it and what does it feel like? The more senses you involve in your visualization, the more real it becomes, and the more passion you have concerning your goals. The more detail the better.

Know what you want!

In a romantic situation, the question is, “What is the next step?” or “Where is this relationship going?” or “Where are we going to be?” As in a romance, you need to be able to answer the following questions:
What are the steps along the way to accomplishing my goals?
How do I keep track of the steps I’ve accomplished?
What will happen when I accomplish each step?

Make sure your goals can be measured so that you know whether you are on track or behind and what appropriate actions you need to take to stay on track.
In a great romance, you are always working to take the actions to further the relationship. You buy flowers, go to the movies or a concert, or take some action that furthers the romance. In goal setting, what actions do you need to take to achieve your goals? Are these actions tangible? Are you clear on what steps to take when progressing to achieving your goals? Document the actions needed, take the action, and document that you took the action.

Great romances have realistic expectations about the direction in which they are going. The romances last because they are realistic in terms of values, perceptions, finances, etc.

Are you realistic with your goals? You may want to make $20 billion by the end of this year. Is that realistic? Most likely not since that depends on your resources, experience, confidence, network, etc. Work on your baby steps. For example, if you made $50k last year working for an organization, you may say, “I want to make $75k by December 31st of this year.” Is that possible? What actions do you need to take? Would you need a promotion or overtime? Are you thinking of starting a part-time business?

Once we start asking these questions, we will come away with the realistic answers for setting goals.

Time Sensitive
Great romances are time sensitive. The people involved are excited about their relationship and are sensitive about the time needed to accomplish their “love goals.”

It is important that you make your goals time sensitive. What are the deadlines to accomplish your goals? Make sure you break your deadlines into smaller time lines or events so that your goals are more manageable and realistic.

By setting time lines, you will have constant feedback to gauge where you are along the path to accomplishing your goals.
In a great romance, each partner is encouraging each other to improve themselves, to do better, and to believe in themselves. They are excited about the romance and are inspired to take their relationship to the next level, even through the ups and downs of life.

What inspires or excites you with the goals you want to achieve? Is it a good feeling, a new sense of confidence, encouraging? Use the positive energy and thoughts to fight through challenges you may encounter along the way to achieving your goals.

Great romances are very rewarding. The rewards may be the love of another person, peace of mind, finding a soul mate, etc.

How rewarding are your goals? Once taking the steps to achieve them or achieving them, what rewards will you receive? What financial, spiritual, health, educational, family, community, career, and business rewards will you receive? At each step to achieving your goal, what reward will you give yourself? It’s okay; I encourage you to give yourself an award or pat yourself on the back for achieving your goals. It could be as simple as renting a movie, going to dinner, or playing inspirational music. But the important point is to reward yourself.

Use these tips to romance and create passion for SMARTER goals and you will achieve what you want.

In addition to his web site at, Ed has a blog at

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The 12 rules of Time

I played duplicate bridge tonight. For me this is a great way to relax. It requires total focus so takes my mind off of all other things.

The following is an article I wrote for Profit Magazine a while ago. It was edited by my friend Rick Spence. It still seems relevant today (and it also appeals to my sense of efficiency - re-use good material to make for a quick blog posting).


By Jim Estill

My business experience has taught me one true thing: That maximizing your productivity, happiness, peace, or impact can best be accomplished if you clearly understand the 12 Rules of Time.

1. Have goals

Being more efficient with your time is irrelevant if you don't know how you want to spend it. In managing time, the compass is more important than the clock. Know where you want to go and spend your time on the things that get you there.

Many people spend energy trying to be more efficient without first doing what's important: setting goals. It's like being lost on your way to a new city. Driving faster doesn't help if you are going in the wrong direction. Figure out what direction to go in and head that way.

Once you've prepared it, your list of goals will reveal what is important to you.

2. Analyze how you spend your time

It is always good to know how you're spending your time right now. You can track this by setting a timer to go off every 15 minutes; whenever it sounds, write down exactly what you are doing. Alternatively, divide your day into 15-minute blocks and record each activity you do.

Once you have your time logs, examine them. How do they compare to your goals? Are you spending time where your priorities are?

3. Keep a to-do list

This sounds too simple, but it really is the basis of all time-management systems. Your to-do list can be electronic, on fancy paper, bound in a notebook or loose-leaf. The key is to have everything you want to accomplish on one list. My to-do list might have a one-line item on it, such as "write annual report," which refers me to a much larger file or even a file box on that item.

4. Prioritize your list

Once you have the list, determine which are the important items. Mark these with a highlighter, a red pen, or in any other way that makes them stand out.

I sometimes find my to-do list is too big. Every item on the list calls out "pay attention to me!", even though most of them weren't highlighted as important. In these cases, I take a blank sheet of paper and cover my to-do list and write down only the three or four most important items. Those are the ones to focus on.

5. Control procrastination

I use a number of tricks to break any lingering tendencies to procrastinate. For instance, I happen to like having a hard copy of my digital to-do list. I reprint it every few days as new items are added and completed ones dropped. It is at these times that I look for the items that I've marked as high priority, but which are just not getting done.

People often say I have great self-control. In truth, though, much of it is environment control. I control my environment to eliminate things that I might use to procrastinate. Take games off your computer, for example, sell your TV, and get rid of the busywork jobs that you use to avoid the important tasks.

I have developed one effective habit that has helped break me of procrastination: "Do the worst thing first." At the beginning of every day, I do the one task that is causing me the most stress, and that I haven't been getting done. Sometimes I just give it a quarter of an hour — based on the theory that I can stand just about anything for 15 minutes. Frequently it is this short thrust that breaks me through.

If I still find myself procrastinating, I review my reasons for setting a goal. To create extra motivation to complete a task, I strengthen the reasons why it should be done. Similarly, many people reward themselves for completing a job.

6. Organize

Organization and time management are linked. I find that I get important things done when I have all the tools I need to perform the job.

The opposite of organization — chaos, clutter, disorganization — generally leads to busy work. If your desk is piled high, every piece of paper says "look at me." You can end up doing a lot of work without ever getting to the important stuff.

7. Delegate

One way to expand your time is to get others to help you with it. The key to delegation is to hand off any tasks that someone else can do significantly faster or more easily than you can.

If you're protesting that you don't have anyone working directly for you to whom you can delegate tasks, no problem. Consider delegating to a peer, a superior, a supplier, or even a customer. Treat delegation like networking: who in your network would be best for the job?

In some cases you will need to invest up-front to train someone so he or she can take over a task from you. The long-term savings are usually worth the up-front time and costs.

After delegation, remember to thank appropriately. You might think people would resent being delegated to, but exactly the opposite is true. People like to be asked, especially if it is to do something that they're good at.

8. Master efficiency tricks

The best trick I have found is "The Power of While." What can you do while you drive? While you walk? While you clean? While you watch TV? I am a huge audio tape advocate and frequently listen to tapes while I am doing something else.

Being a techno person, I love all the organization software out there that allows me to keep my contacts, to-do lists and appointments. I also use gadgets such as cellphones, wireless e-mail, and personal digital assistants. Good use of technology can save you valuable time.

9. It's OK to say no

Saying "No" can be the most powerful time tool you can master. When someone asks you to do something, ask yourself how important this is. Does it help you achieve your goals? Is this a task you would be better at than most people? Don't always look for reasons to get out of things, but be strategic about what you take on.

This doesn't mean that I always say no when asked to help out. But if I do say no, I am always polite and tactful, and try to suggest someone else who would do the job well.

10. Focus

Committing 100% focus and concentration on one task at a time can be very powerful. Eliminate distractions. Focus on the task. When you're properly organized and prepared, when your energy and power are high, you can often complete a task in 20% of the time it would take when you're distracted or open to interruption.

11. Build your efficiency bank

High efficiency is not possible if you don't look after yourself. Eat right, exercise, sleep well and drink moderately. Mom knew best: all the things she said were good for you just happen to be best for your efficiency, too.

I also believe meditation can be a great way of building your efficiency. It could be transcendental meditation, Zen, or just finding a way to get into a relaxed state that lets you focus on the task you have to do. No matter how you do it, recharging your batteries gives you the power to do more during the times you need to be at your best.

12. Take care of yourself

It isn't possible to be "on" all the time. Take the time you need to look after yourself — body and soul — so that you can reach peak efficiency when you need to. Have a list of things you like to do. Find out what activities energize you, and spend more time doing them. This will give you the power and energy to be more productive when you return to work.

Finally, a word of advice. If after reading this far you're feeling a bit overwhelmed, I suggest you go back to Rule 1 and add peace (contentment) to your list of goals. Time management is not about adding stress; it is about giving you the time to be the person you really want to be.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lots of continued coverage and hit from the Globe article incluing being picked up in which seemed to generate lots of hits.

YPO meeting tonight. These would likely be my closest friends. We face similar challenges. We do not compete and we support each other.

One of the books that I read on the weekend was, “Getting results - Five Absolutes for High Performance” by Clinton Longenecker and Jack Simonetti. This was a quick and fast read. Much of it was a lesson in the obvious (but that can be very good and positively reinforcing. The theme of the book is that there are five absolutes that need to be done to get results.

These five absolutes are:

1. Get everyone on the same page: Focus on the purpose of your organization. As a leader, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what our purpose is and I have always found when the purpose is strong that we get results. I am a big advocate of this point.

2. Prepare for battle: Equip your operation with tools, talent, and technology. I spend a lot of time preparing (sometimes I think I spend too much). I think that is what all of the reading, self-development, studying, etc., is about. It is all about preparation for me so this is one that I really believe in. Perhaps I should spend more time combining it on the focus in number 1, so that I am preparing for the right battle.

3. Stoke the fire of performance: Create a climate of full results. This section of the book was primarily about communications and tracking of results. One thing that SYNNEX is excellent at is tracking numbers and since coming to SYNNEX, I have seen a lot of value in some of this detail tracking.

4. Build Bridges on the road to results: Nurture relationsnips with people. This one appears obvious to me. It seems that the most important aspect in any business are the people and the relationships. One of my limits always seems to be time to nurture these relationships.

5. Keep the piano in tune: Practice continuous renewal. This to me means be prepared for change, something that I talk about a lot and something that I prepare for a lot.

The book had eight common planning mistakes to avoid and I thought I would list them verbatim:

1. Being too busy or too undisciplined to plan.
2. Doing the wrong kinds of planning for your level in the organization.
3. Planning with inadequate information and input from your boss.
4. Planning in a vacuum without input from those who have to implement the plan.
5. Developing plans that are unrealistic or too sophisticated to get off the ground.
6. Failing to implement plans
7. Planning without accurate data.
8. Planning without a clear direction or real purpose.

I was also heartened to see what a big focus the book put on training. This has been one of my priorities for years and is one of our current priorities of our organization.

One of the funnier parts of the book was in the Afterword that spoke of a study done by Dun & Bradstreet that concluded that “Ninety percent of failures are the results of bad management.” Duh. You think so?

Making Ideas your own - Synthesizing

Blog readership continues to be high as a result of the Globe article. The viral power of the internet seems to be what really drives the traffic. The article or parts of it were picked up by many other blogs. So the pressure is on to "be pithy" as one of my friends said.

I seem to be getting a lot of press lately. One of my articles was picked up by DeAnna Spencer.

Last night I went to the Leafs game (They beat Atlanta, although I am not sure people check my blog for sports updates) courtesy of HP. Then I stopped by the warehouse for a short while. Things were running smoothly as expected.

Much if not all of what I do, blog about, my philosophies etc. are synthesis of different information I have taken in (books, audiobooks, seminars, listening to people etc.). I am a big believer in filtering information. Just because it is in print or said by a famous person, I find many people take it as the truth. The key is good synthsis. Take the ideas, filter them, apply them to your situation to end up with a lightly new or your own view.

One challenge I have is not rejecting an authors whole view just because I disagree with part of what they say. For example, I recently read “Fooled by Randomness – The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life” by Nassim Taleb. He speaks poorly about one of my other favourite books – “The Millionaire Next Door”. The challenge is for me to still learn from him on his other points.

In the preface of his book he talks about his rules of writing including “Avoid discussing (a) anything that I did not either personally witness on the topic or develop independently, and (b) anything that I have not distilled well enough to be able to write on the subject with the slightest effort.”. Interesting view. I, personally, believe in sharing all even if I did not originate it (ideally with attribution). At the same time, I like the idea of distilling ideas so perhaps I am in sync with Nassim.

Nassim wrote:

"Purge the text from passages that seemed to come from a visit to the library.

I detest the practice of random use of borrowed wisdom."

To which I say:

You have come to the wrong blog. Most of what you find here will be my interpretation of the information I have taken in.

One problem with our education system is it trains people not to copy when in reality it is often smart to copy and ask for help. I am not proposing that people steal intellectual property rather use the “free” information that is available.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Using Habits for Success

Late night last night. Out at an Il Divo concert in a box courtesy of one of my YPO friends. Interesting cultural experience that I would not have done had I not been asked. This is part of my continued charmed life.

Did I say I love my Prius? It handles great in this snow. I ran out of windshield washer antifreeze and the revervoir holds a full 4 L. Makes total sense. Most other cars I get only hold 80% of a bottle so I end up carrying around part bottles.

Good drive into Toronto this morning even with the weather.

I will have habits - good or bad. Why not make them a choice?

Success comes from the result of habits. I continually try to refine my habits to make sure they are supporting me in what I want to do or be.

I have found that once something becomes a habit, it no longer requires discipline. For example, it takes no discipline for me to brush my teeth or fasten my seatbelt, I am so habituated that I feel wrong not doing it.

Right now I am so habituated to exercise that I have a hard time resting for a few days knowing that would likely be best for my sciatica. It is a good habit but I need to discipline and logic myself into knowing that a few days off will not turn me into a blob. And I can substitute softer workouts like yoga and swimming.

I have found that habits are easier to stop for me that to start. This is likely due to time constraints. Adding new habits often takes time (and at first, it takes discipline). One trick I try to do is if I add a habit that takes 5 minutes, I try to figure out what habit I am going to stop that takes 5 minutes. Without that trick, I tended to cut into my wind down time or sleep.

There are some habits that I seem to always backtrack on that I need to push again. One example of this is speed reading. My reading speed tends to drop back if I do not continually push but I can re-habituate myself fairly easily.

I also find there are many co-dependencies in habits (and since I view most habits as good, co-dependency is not a problem). As I refine my habits, I need to make sure I work with my co-dependants to support any changes I want to make. Co-dependants for me could mean a spouse, family, friends or coworkers. I probably drive my assistant crazy with all the new habits I implement.

So the tip for today - think about and plan your habits.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Globe and Mail article on Blogging

Good press in the Globe and Mail today. One of my friends had the nerve to say I looked younger in the picture than in person, but the RIM BlackBerry 8700 on my hip proved it was a current photo.

Also discussion at Debbie Weil's blog about the story.

Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management

One of my articles was picked up and run by Spartanburg Technical College.

I was given a great book for Christmas by my daughter, Laura, called Power Plays, Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management by John O’Whitney and Tina Packer. I think it is Laura’s attempt to add some culture and literature to my life since she is taking her masters in English Literature. The book is about John O’Whitney’s personal experiences in business and Shakespeare and what he has to say on life.

I have had many influencers in my life who are big Shakespeare advocates. One is Dr. Joe Martin who is a professor at the University of Toronto Business School who strongly recommends that any of his students attend a Shakespeare play to learn how to communicate. The second person is my Uncle Bruce Kellner who was a university professor and is a prolific author who is passionate about Shakespeare and culture. And of course my mom who took me to plays when I was young.

I enjoy live theatre but to be truthful tend to find Shakespeare daunting and sometimes boring. I tend to prefer Shaw and the lighter comedies.

Back to “Power Plays”, John O. Whitney appears to share many of my values (he is a very frugal person, has work eithic, is down to earth etc). Part of the book talks about the need for trusted lieutenants. Often in business people think that it is one person who builds the business but this is not the case. The only way that business people are successful is by surrounding themselves with many good people.

The book talks about creating trust and how trust is needed for leadership. This is one of the goals that any leader needs to work towards; however, it tends to be very delicate.

The book has an entire chapter on the uses and abuses of perks, pay, and privileges. Clearly John would like my office with my used furniture purchased at an office auction, etc.

The book talks about the parallels between acting and being a good CEO. There are three characteristics that are in common that are needed: physical stamina, energy, and mental stamina. It seems that much of my life centers around trying to increase all of these three characteristics.

It also talks about being genuine and not copying from someone else. I have always found that if someone else tries to prepare a speech for me, it never comes off very well. I have often found if I try to be exactly like someone else, it just doesn’t work. My best solution is to try to filter and take the best parts from different people.

John has been involved in a number of turnarounds and in turnarounds there tends to be hundreds of problems (SYNNEX is not a turnaround; however, there always seems to be hundreds of problems). What he looks for in these is to find a keystone. The one problem with solutions that will resolve the others. Solving that one problem will give the company the overall focus that it needs to get healthy again.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Blog! How the newest revolution is changing politics, business and culture

Very lazy day today. Did not leave the house. I did have some errands but by the time I had the ambition to go out, the storm had hit. Good day to stay inside. No work out but I am trying to take a few days off to rest my sciatica so that's ok.

I read so many books today, I don’t know where to start.

I know a lot of bloggers read blogs. One awesome book that is a must read for bloggers is “Blog! How the newest revolution is changing politics, business and culture” by David Kline and Dan Burstein.

It talks of the power and influence of blogs. It uses political examples. Through these examples we can learn what good blogging is (honest, open) and what it is not (poorly written, blatant marketing). It talks about freedom of the press and countries and companies that try to suppress blogs. It also warns and gives examples of blogs that share insider or confidential information and what happens. Most of this advice is just “don’t be stupid”.

To quote from it:

“..most people – or at least most of the media’s coverage of business issues in blogging – are missing the fact that the real excitement here is not how much money business can make from blogging, but how dramatically blogging will reshape the world of business from top to bottom and create new sources of competitive advantage for firms that learn how to use this new medium intelligently.”

“Bloggers not only tend to be more passionate about their interests and hobbies than other people, they also have marketplace influence far beyond their numbers”.

Much of the book consists of interviews with famous people who blog. It asks their view of the Blogshpere and what is happening.

This is a highly inspirational read for anyone who blogs. We live in revolutionary times and as bloggers (and blog readers) we see history being made. We are truly cutting edge. The world is changing before our eyes.

As A. J. Liebling a great 20th century journalist said “Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one”. With blogs, anyone can.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Fooled by Randomness

I read a great book last night (although it won’t be for everyone) called “Fooled by Randomness – The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life” by Nassim Taleb. He is a mathematician who studies randomness (but the book is not a boring math book – not that math is boring)

In simple terms it talks about luck and the problems it causes if we start to think it is skill or knowledge and not luck.

Much of the book is about stock markets and I am not really a stock market guy (too focused on running SYNNEX to spend much time on the markets).

He talks a lot about learning from mistakes and the fact that people are not very good at it.. True wisdom is being able to learn from other people’s mistakes. I am still trying to learn true wisdom.

One interesting story he told was of a person who lost $15,000,000 but was still worth a million dollars and how devastated he was. To quote: “There is a difference between wealth level reached from above and wealth reached from below.”

Still, all this said, I am a great believer in the following quote which is attributed to Thomas Jefferson (and also Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) but since Jefferson came first (1743-1826), I accept him at the originator)

“I am a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it”

At the same time, I know I am a very lucky person. There are few that have been able to live the experiences that I have.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Good Old Days

Rough traffic on the way to work this morning. I left a bit later than usual. I need to leave by 5:45 to have lighter traffic. So my commute was 15 minutes longer. I remember when traffic was not as much of a problem.

"I wish for the good old days."

This is the refrain I hear from many people including some of my staff. I could be tough and say “get over it, the good old days will never come back”.

Much of the “wishing for the good old days” has to do with change. Change is opportunity. I always try to figure out what the opportunities are in every change. Much our business success is based on taking advantage of change.

If things do not change enough, I will even force change. Much of my quest for learning has to do with preparation for the unknown future (even though I try to impact what the future brings).

Mostly I am certain that some day in the future we will remember these as the good old days. Why not cherish them now?

I remember fondly periods of time in my life where I was dealing with great stress in what seemed like unbearable circumstances. In hindsight those were good times. So regardless of circumstance cherish the present.