Thursday, March 30, 2006

More on being Zen

I am a bit rushed between meetings so am using one of my time tips. Use someone else's material. One of my reseller friends forwarded this to me. The following is used with permission of the author, Jamie Broughton.

Your Problem Isn't the Problem

In a remote village in China hundreds of years ago there lived a wise farmer and his son. The wise farmer was respected in the village and also admired, for he owned a beautiful stallion.

One day, the stallion ran away.

The villagers flocked to the old farmer’s home and offered sympathies over the farmer’s loss.

“Oh poor farmer, you must be so sad to have lost your most valuable possession.” “What a terrible thing to have lost your stallion.”

“What ever will you do?” And so on…

The wise farmer responded, “Indeed, my stallion is missing. This is interesting.”

Weeks passed and still no stallion. Finally, one day, the stallion returned! With it, he brought a beautiful wild mare. The villagers rejoiced.

“What good fortune! You not only have your stallion back but a wonderful mare as well! How lucky you are!”

The wise farmer quietly responded, “Indeed, this is interesting.”

The farmer’s son was quite excited about the arrival of the new wild mare and saw it as an opportunity to tame her. The farmer agreed.

The time came to try and ride the mare. When the son did, the mare bucked and threw him, breaking his leg. The villagers soon heard of the latest turn of events and came running to the farmer’s home.

“Oh what bad luck!” they agreed.

“This is so unfortunate. What will happen if your son cannot work the fields?!”

The wise farmer was his calm self. “This is interesting,” he quietly repeated as he began to prepare for the journey to the doctor, days’ travel away.

Soon after, much to the dismay the villagers, the Chinese army came to town looking to take able-bodied young men to fight the latest bloody war.

The farmer’s son was passed over of course, left to heal from his (relatively) minor wound.

“Interesting,” thought the farmer.


Coaching Fieldwork

Life is a never-ending series of events. What you may not have considered is that each event is just that, an event – something happens.

Yet, as humans we unconsciously and automatically interpret that event and ADD meaning TO what happened. In essence, we create a story about it.

Based on the responses of the villagers above, some may have thought:

“Without the stallion, he won’t have much fortune left (and will live much poorer).”

“With the stallion AND the mare, he’ll be twice as rich (and will live more fully).”

“He won’t have the man-power to work the fields without his son (and will lose some portion of his crop…and be much poorer).”

These “stories” create problems, and lots of them. In fact, more often than not, it’s the story of what happened that’s the real problem.

Look at your life right now. Is there a situation where you’re stuck or resisting action? Big or small, it doesn’t matter. Here are some examples to get the brain started:

Making a request of someone
Purchasing something or not
Proposing a new idea
Making a change
Ask yourself, what “stories” have you created about the situation that are holding you back? What meaning have you added to the situation unknowingly? What is it you “know” will happen if you take action?

© 2006, Jamie Broughton

"By Jamie Broughton of the VAR School of Business. He assists VAR owners and management teams in their effort to grow their business in less time and with less effort. To learn more about his innovative programs and sign up for more FR*E tips like these, visit his site at"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Be Zen

I am in California at the HP conference. The grounds here (at Half Moon Bay) are beautiful (although it is raining). Oceoan view with huge waves. I would like to go swimming but it is not really set up for it (rocks, high waves (which I love), no one else swimming and a minor inconvenience of a "no swimming" sign.

I am irritated that I missed my workout due to unexpected business calls.

I guess I need to heed my own advice. Plan and schedule but also leave enough slack to deal with priorities and interruptions that come up. And regardless - be Zen about what is happening. It does not help to be upset.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Advice for New Bloggers

I am often asked for blogging advice by new bloggers. I thought it would be more efficient for me to post suggestions and refer people to this blog post rather than email each person. I welcome comments and feedback from you, my readers. Take what I have started with and add please.

Advice for new bloggers:

· Don’t start blogging unless you like to write. It is a bit of an obligation.

· I like keep blog postings short (400 – 500 words) and this seems to suit the attention span of most readers.

· Just to it. It is easy to start and in the worst case, you can stop.

· You are not really considered to be a blogger until you have blogged from 4 – 6 weeks. I think it is a great idea to have a strong first post because some people read first posts but the next 4 – 6 weeks, you don’t really need to have tremendous depth or substance. I would suggest copying things that you find interesting but not pouring too much of your heart in to it for the first while.

· I suggest installing a This tells you what your traffic is and where they come from. It is free.

· Some people think blogging is technical; it’s not. Anyone can learn how to BLOG in about 5 minutes.

· I suggest finding a blog mentor – someone who can help you with the simple set-up and give you a little bit of support through the early days.

· I would not try to do anything to generate traffic in the first 30 days as you are really not a blogger until you have reached that point.

I am off on more travel today. Conference in California and while I am there, I will stop by Fremont head office.

Monday, March 27, 2006


My back is still a bit sore today from work outs yesterday. I did about 45 minutes in the morning fairly hard and an easy 2 hours in the evening. More than I usually do.

Yesterday, after brunch with my son, I took the back roads back to Guelph from London. I know the back roads well – I grew up in Woodstock and went to the University of Waterloo. The weather was beautiful. The snow from the morning had melted and it was almost warm.

I saw a huge double V of trumpeter swans. They migrate far to the north in early spring. My mother instilled an interest in bird watching in me when I was young and to this day, I know more about birds than most people.

I lead a good and privileged life. I take seeing the swans as a positive sign. We choose what we see the “signs” as. I choose to see it positively. Synchronicity is when things happen that just seem to make life come together well. For me this is Synchronicity.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Writing Flow

Last night I saw the Blue Man Group courtesy of Sam Sorbara where Elizabeth works as a lawyer. Interesting cultural experience.

Today I have a couple of articles to write. I seem to be "blocked" so took a break to blog. Perhaps I need to re-read my article on "8 tricks to write an article in 20 minutes". I could add a couple of tricks to the article:

1 - sometimes a break works well. If the ideas are roughed out and the article is just not coming together, I take a break then come back to it.

2 - Unrelated writing (like doing a blog post) can sometimes help get the flow working. Sometimes I just start to write anything and then it starts to flow.

Off to work out shortly then go to London to have lunch with my son David who is at Western.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Goals and vision

Long day so I am tired. Might be a bit jet lagged. It was not all work though. Tonight I played duplicate bridge after attending a reception at a local accounting firm.

As I often do, I have been thinking about my goals. Seeking clarity as always.

“There is nothing like dream to create the future” by Victor Hugo 1802 – 1885.

I have always been a great dreamer, although the line between dreamer and visioniary is sometimes blurred.

What I am looking for now is ways to clarify my vision as I have always found the clearer my vision, the better I am able to come up with the action plan and the tactics to create the dream.

I have often seen people who have dreams but don’t have the follow on action plans and don’t end up being any further ahead.

However, I find people with dreams and vision even without the action plan often get further ahead with no dreams and visions.

To smile or frown

This morning on the way to Ronson (about an hour drive for me), I was listening to an audio program.

The author said it was good to smile. It uses only 17 muscles compared to 43 to frown. Now as a health and fitness guy - is it not better to use more muscles?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Board Meetings, Branding and Time Use

I am in the airport lounge in San Francisco. I am tired. Perhaps thinking about the overnight flight back and the full meeting packed day tomorrow is what does it. Someone should start a business renting out beds in the airport for a few hours travelers have between flights.

I am reading a book called “The Imperfect Board Member” by Jim Brown. No link to the book since has not yet been published. I am proofing it and offering suggestions. The importance of board governance has never been higher. This book caters to that need. Good readable book.

When it is released, I will do a proper review of it complete with a link.

Interesting coincidence to be reading this book since I just came from board meetings in Fremont. SYNNEX has good governance and a very strong board.

On the flight down, I sat next to someone from HP(but not the divisions we deal with). When I told him I was with SYNNEX, he did not recognize the name, despite the fact that we do hundreds of millions with them. When I said I started EMJ and SYNNEX bought Merisel, he recognized both Merisel and EMJ. This shows the lingering impact of brand. Makes me think. Now I need to create a SYNNEX brand that surpasses either of those.

And my time tip of the day. Because I blog, I tend to spend my time better. Why? Well, I would not want to blog that I sat around all day and did not accomplish anything. Tracking things can help keep you on track. This works with diet, exercise, time use – just about anything.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Naked Corporation

On the Flight to Fremont, I read “The Naked Corporation – How the age of transparency will revolutionize business”. You likely think I must have issues since I always read about “naked” (Like “Naked Conversations”) but don’t worry – its not like that. In this age of Search Engine Optimization, I wonder if the authors thought they might get more hits but that is another topic.

The Naked Corporation talks about the transparency needed in todays post Enron, post Worldcom environment. The basic thesis of the book is that this transparency is good. I agree. It talks about the benefits to the company for being transparent and how it saves money and builds support for the company.

If I have a counter view, it is not to transparency it is to Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) which attempts to legislate ethics and in doing so imparts a huge cost and overhead which ironically might hurt the very shareholders they seek to protect. In some cases, SOX is like buying a safe for $1000 to protect $500 worth of valuables.

The book actually did make the point that often companies are not transparent because the law requires them to complicate things. Just look at the filings and annual reports of many companies. Warren Buffet says “you should be able to understand the financial statements of a company in a few minutes”.

One part of the book I found interesting was the story of poor ethics and no transparency at Chiquita Bananas. Fortunately, they have moved to high transparency and appear to have mended their ways. (Fortunate because I like bananas).

One quote which I love (and will use) is by Warren Buffet “If you lose dollars for the firm by bad decisions, I will be very understanding. If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless.” I have believed for a long time the reputation is far more important than money. I like many of Warren Buffets’ philosophies and in a article some years ago, EMJ was cited as being a perfect Warren Buffet company. I am not sure when it comes to ethics though that selling sugar water (Coke – on of Warren Buffets’ companies) would count as good ethics. So as with everything, I need to filter what I like about someone from what I do not. Learn from the good.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Frequency and saving time.

I got up early today and already feel my day is half done. I fly out this afteroon to Fremont and wanted to get a jump on my day. I also wanted to get a 2+ hour work out in. And of course I have a huge list of things I would like to get done. not the least of which is tidying my den.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how changing the frequency of something is a great way to save time. What started me on this was getting my license and health card renewed all in a couple of months of each other. If the government would change the renewal period from 5 years to 7 years, it would save the government 40% and even more importantly save the citizens hundreds of thousands of hours.

The same principles can be applied to many things that we do. I know in our accounts payable department we pay invoices every other week – monthly is a little bit too long and vendors would get upset.

I know I can live by only tidying/cleaning my den or car every couple of weeks. Much more efficient than doing it every week. Of course the balance is the order and messiness I am willing to put up with.

Of course with any frequency issue, you need to take into account what the downsides are doing it less frequently. I am not sure brushing your teeth once a week would be a good idea.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Productivity and Downtime

My daughter Laura published an online paper. I told her it was off topic and that I could not find the efficiency tips she was trying to get across. Still, I am proud of her.

I find as Laura gets older she is not as obedient. I forbid her to turn 24 but she is likely to disobey. Children these days...

I met recently with one of my friends, Bryan Kerdman, a highly successful entrepreneur who sold his business and is now a venture capitalist (Edgestone Capital). He challenged me to think about my productivity. We talked about work hours and work ethic and discussed the differences between hours and output. Of course I study how to be more efficient all the time. I am also a great believer in needing a bit of down time to recharge. I do admit, I tend to minimize the downtime though. Thinking...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What Generates Blog Traffic

As a blogger, I am always interested in what generates blog traffic. I do not like to give a talk to less than 100 people. For the same reason, why would I want to blog if only a few 100 people read it.

About a third of my traffic are repeat so I have a core following. Likely a good number of these are staff, family, customers and suppliers etc. People who know me. Some are the self development freaks (not a put down – I count myself among them). What I am not sure about is whether these people log in once a week or every few weeks and read the whole week(s) or if they are daily followers.

I get a fair amount of traffic from my articles. Some of this is from free article sites but an equal amount would be from other blogs that republish an article.

I get some traffic from blog exchanges like Blog Explosion, Blog Soldiers and Blog Clicker (although I do not surf enough to get much traffic this way). I also wonder at the value of truly random hits.

I get some hits from Technorati and many from Google.

I get some traffic from sites that link to me or mention me. For example, I got a good review of my recent talk at WLU on Thusenth. These generate more or less depending on how big the site is.

I get regular hits from the SYNNEX home page and from our marketing stuff that go out.

I know I get some from print articles but this is tough to quantify which source they come from since many of them would be google searches or people who key in the URL directly.

I think bots generate hits but of course are not “real” hits. Since I turned off “word verification” to make commenting easier (I still proof everything that goes before it gets posted) I have been getting 5-12 spams per day. I am so flattered that all the bots think I have a “great blog” and “inspiring” etc.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

9 ways to network Easily

My flight from Vegas on Sunday was 2 1/2 hours late. I had a bad attitude about it which is unusual (I normally consider delays to be "found" time). The LV ariport has few redeeming characteristics - no lounge and no fresh food.

Last night I spoke to a group of Wilfred Laurier Business students. I alway find the inquisitiveness and energy to youth to be invigorating.

2 of the students asked me about networking. The following is an article I wrote that applies:

9 ways to Network Easily

By Jim Estill CEO SYNNEX Canada

One of the easiest ways to increase sales is through networking and one of the best ways to network is to network easily. What I mean by this is to do things that come naturally to you.

Some of the ideas that can be helpful for networking are:

1. Join groups that you would be interested in joining. For example, if you like to run, join a running group; if you like to play bridge, join a bridge group; if you would like to go to church, become a member of a congregation. Joining a group just for the sake of networking, generally doesn’t work.

2. Volunteer to speak at events. You can start by speaking to small groups and then in time you can become more selective and speak to larger groups. Toastmasters is an excellent group to join to improve your speaking ability as well as another networking opportunity.

3. Write articles. There is something that makes someone seem like an expert when they write an article on a specific topic. Articles are easy to write if you are passionate about what you are writing about. There are also hundreds of publications that are hungry for material. Again, you will have to start small with local publications and work up to other publications.

4. Keep a Rolodex (I use Outlook) and keep it organized. Ideally include not only names and address but also a few points of interest about the person or their business.

5. Keep in touch with people. The best way to do this is to know what interests the people have and then send them personalized emails or notes with articles of interest attached. Do this with no intention of them buying but the more they know you, the more they will tend to buy.

6. Become an expert: Becoming an expert in any field is simple to do. First pick a topic that you are passionate about and then spend an hour a day reading trade journals; going to trade shows; and learning about that topic. Within six to eight weeks, you will be close to an expert in that field and people will turn to you for solutions.

7. Be generous: People tend to link happy occasions with gifts. Be prolific with gifts; for example, baby gifts – you will find that people are very grateful that you remembered their special occasion.

8. Follow-through: If you are trying to sell a product to a customer, make sure that you follow up with them so you can make the sale. Many times people will provide the information on the product and will tell the customer that they will get back to them, but don’t, so the sale falls through.

9. If you are going to be out there, work the room: What I mean by this is why go to a function and sit only with the people that you already know. No need to sit in the corner when you can mingle with new people and get to know them. This skill does not come naturally to introverted people; however, it is something that can be easily learned by stepping out of your comfort zone.

People tend to buy from people they know. Become more known and sell more. This is one way smaller companies and beat larger companies any day.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Still in Vegas but flying back shortly.

This morning the hotel had a free "introduction to pilates" class. I was the only one who showed up so it was basically a personal tutorial. Pilates is all about core strength (lower abs). I have had pilates on my list for a while but it has never been important enough for me to do. Of course one class does not constitute taking up pilates.

Pilates is not very gratifying compared to weight lifting or aerobic exercise. However if done properly, it is still difficult (and I know I need it).

Pilates is a bit of a metaphor for the little things in business that cause success. It is not galmourous. Not particularly gratifying. Fairly difficult to do and easy to find excuses not to do. Easy to cheat on but you get no benefit by cheating. But in the end, it is the small, unseen things that can be the most important and allow the higher visibilty,higher impact tasks to be done.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Naked Conversations

I am still in Vegas on the SYNNEX executive quarterly review. I always come away from these reviews with new ideas - often more than I can implement. The review makes me realize how little I know and how much I have to do still to make us excllent.

On the Flight down, I read Naked Coversations by Shel Isreal and Robert Scoble. I had heard Shel speak at the Association of Internet Marketers. I always like reading books from authors I have heard speak.

It is an excellent book. I am passionate about business blogs. I truly believe they have value for a business. The book re-affirms this. Naked Coversations is easy to read, fast and well organized. It combines advice on blogging (and why blogs help companies) with stories of real bloggers.

Blogs have dangers but those dangers tend to be over rated. Not blogging is a greter danger. As I have said many times, blogs are a new media. Companies that ignore it do so at great peril. At the same time, blogs cannot be blatant self or company promotion - readers (and other bloggers see right through that and can decimate a company).

This book ranks an 8 out of 10 on the Jim Estill Scale (and I am a tough marker). How do I know if a book is good? If I make a change as a result. I turned off word verification on my blog to make it easier to comment (I still review all comments and don't let spam through but am trying to make it easier to have a conversation). I get twice as many emails as comments on my blog as a result of my blog. The book drives home that comments and coversations are good.

I also know a book is good if I buy multiple copies for people that I think should read it. And in this case I did.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How I use my travel time

I am in the airport lounge about to fly to Vegas for the SYNNEX quarterly executive meeting.

I use my flight time to get caught up on trade journals. I take a huge stack to the lounge and quickly flip through them and rip out the articles of interest. This way I reduce the pile from 5 KG to perhaps 50 pages.

I also bring books.

I do have an iPod with tons of audio books on it.

I take a notebook and sometimes do email (although this time, I am up to date so likley will not).

I always have my RIM for short emails as well (although don't worry, I obediently turn off the radio while flying).

I always carry a note pad to take notes. Often I am inspired by what I read and so I write my ideas. I find a long flight is often the perfect venue for me to collect my thoughts and flesh out plans.

I actually treasure my travel time (although I could live without the lines through security etc). No interruptions. Solitary time - its good.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Guest Speaker

I spoke to the Association of Internet Marketers today. The topic was blogging and my co speaker was Shel Israel of Naked Conversations (its not what you think – his book is about blogging). We were quite in sync on what we were saying. I will read his book and report on it.

The group asked a lot of good questions about blogging. What about the legal department? Forget them but don’t be stupid. What about kids, wives and family – do they mind? Sometimes. How much time does it take? This of course is where I shone and shared my efficient blogging techniques like how to write an article in 20 minutes and some of my tricks like doing book reports, borrowing material etc.

I am preparing for more travel to the SYNNEX quarterly executive meeting later this week. When I travel I need to cram a full week’s work into a few days – so I seem a bit over busy. So I guess things are usual.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Dumb is Smart

I was in Mexico last week on SYNNEX business. There, I was introduced to Antonio, who is a friend of another Canadian Business man friend of mine. He is an awesome person – very generous with his time and just an overall nice guy. Antonio is a bit of a deep thinker and business philosopher. One line he uses which has served him well is “Act Dumb”. By acting dumb, he can ask lots of stupid questions. Also, people tend to underestimate him and want to help him. It also keeps him out of trouble.

Dumb is smart.

Interesting idea.

The Viral Impact of Internet marketing

I have had a lot of press on the internet lately. This has exploded my blog traffic.

The Globe article from a few weeks ago was big. Most recently, the Forbes interview which was also picked up by Yahoo Finance.

Of course the RIM Settlement with NTP drove a lot of readers looking for inside scoop since I am on the RIM board. I will write something more sometime on it but not yet.

I also have had a number of my articles picked up on various sites. The most successful one (when measured in the number of sites which picked it up) which I republished as "12 Ways to Maximize Time and Life" has been picked up by no less than 33 different sites including DailyIndia, Ezine, Articlesbase, Life Organizers, Postive Articles, Articles Beyond Better, ESL Teachers board, Andhimazhai (interesting because half the site is in a language I do not recognize (perhaps Arabic))and more (you can do your own Google search to get the rest).

Guerilla versus Gorilla which I thought was a better article was only picked up by 12 sites. "Efficient Blogging" was picked up by 21 sites. "The Top 10 Ways To Grow Your Small Business" was picked up by 19 sites. "Good Ways To Procrastinate And When Procrastination Might Be Good" was picked up by 18 sites. "9 ways to Network Easily" was picked up by 29 sites. "How to write an Article in 20 minutes" was picked up 24 times. "The 10 rules of Blogging" was picked up 10 times.

I am thinking the article title is important in getting picked up. I also think it has to do with the length of time the article is out there.

I am trying to figure out the value of that many sites picking up the articles. As with most things, I am not sure it is just quantity, it has to do with quality. I am thinking about the quality of the readers and for that matter how many readers each site actually has. I know with paper press, an article in a national newspaper like the Globe is read way more often than a small Chamber of Commerce newsletter. The same is definitely true on the internet since a small blog with 25 readers can pick up an article or Forbes which has thousands of readers can run something.

At the same time, I am impressed with the viral nature of the internet.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Full RIM/NTP press release here.

RIM Settles with NTP

It is good to have the RIM settlement with NTP finally done. Now RIM can get back to business.

TORONTO, March 3 (Reuters) - Research In Motion has settled its patent dispute with NTP Inc., Canadian broadcaster ROB-TV said on Friday.

In the United States, CNBC also reported that RIM and NTP reached a settlement and said it was worth $612.5 million.

The settlement would avoid an injunction that would have shut its U.S. BlackBerry service.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Forbes Interview

I was interviewed for Forbes online. Read article here.

And those fine folks at Technorati solved my problem fast. Must be a good day. I hope my flights go as smoothly.

On the Sleep Theme

Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise

Ben Franklin 1757

Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize.

Al Gore Junior in 1996 (no politics here but this rhymes better and organization never hurts)

Still - what's with all this going to bed early stuff?

Partly the reason for the shallowness of this post is that Technorati is not indexing my blog properly. They only pick up the previous listing and not the most current one even though I ping them. So one solution to this is for me to post something short between "real" posts. Any ideas on this one? Technorati are nice people but my relationship with them is becoming a bit one sided (I send them emails on my problem and they don't reply - well they did once but never after that).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

8 Tips for Sleeping Less

It seems many people are interested in sleeping less. The theory most people have is they will get more done. I do not believe in oversleeping and think in many respect too much sleep is overrated.

I love the early morning time and have many many things I love to do before the world wakes up including working out and getting a good jump on my day.

And there is a buzz on the net these days about Polyphasic sleep. This is sleeping for 20 minutes every 4 hours for a total of 3 hours per day. I have toyed with this idea but have yet to get my courage up to try it (among other things, napping seems a bit weird since every 4 hours it would definitely interfere.

And of course the No Sleep Pill that lets you get all the sleep you need in 2 hours.

My top 8 tips for sleeping less and still feeling great are:

1 - Be inspired. If you truly are passionate about life, you will natually function well on less sleep. You also will not want to miss anything so will sleep less.

2 - Avoid drugs. Caffeine and alcohol are two bad ones that come to mind. Both impact sleep negatively.

3 - Wake up at the same time each day (I am not perfect at this but it helps).

4 - Sleep well when you sleep. This means a quiet, cool, dark room. Relax well before going to bed. Clear your mind.

5 - Exercise. This helps you to sleep better. It also helps you to be more alert during the day.

6 - Eat well. Healthy eating leads to healthy sleeping.

7 - Just do it. Like any habit, it is easy to get used to less sleep (to a limit). I do think it varies from person to person.

8 - catnap if you can. Learn to nap for only 20 minutes (a trick stolen from polyphasic sleep). I have begun to master this one and it works great.

Given that you are not over sleeping, perhaps the idea should be to be more productive with the time we are awake. And you know if you follow my blog that I spend a lot of time and focus on being productive.

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