Sunday, April 30, 2006

Willie Nelson and filtering our reading

The big news is my son, David Estill, has a blog.

Early and busy day today. Arrived at Ronson about 7:15 (and it a 45 min drive to get there) and found out my card to the gym does not work that early on Sunday. No problem though - it worked when I tried again at 1. I was inspired by one of my friends who is competing in the Penticton Ironman. I know I do not have time for that kind training right now but that does not mean I cannot be inspired to up my normal training a bit.

Of course my problem is I tend to become over inspired to train and that can lead to injury. I still have a bit of a sore back and sciatica today (on the other had, I ran 5 miles so perhaps I should expect a bit).

Then back to Guelph for tea with my oldest daughter Laura. I do not see her often so that's good. She is preparing to move to Windsor where she will commute to Wayne State to take her PhD.

Then to a Willie Nelson concert in Hamilton tonight. It is his 73rd birthday today. He was still great on stage. Lots of experience. When they introduced him they said how many CDs, songs, etc. and it was amazing. He has accomplished a lot. NOt only that, he uses Biodesiel on his busses. My brother, Lyle Estill, even sold him some.

The warm up group was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. They were just as good.

Awesome evening.

And for those readers who want business advice. My refrain is always filter what you read and make it yours. 2 quotations from Forbes magazine I read today. I will let you guess which I believe:

"Ambition is a poor excuse for not having the sense to be lazy" Milan Kundera

"Education...has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading." G. M. Trevelyan

(hope this does not reduce my blog readership)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

CEO Blog and links

I changed my CEO Blog domain to off of blogspot about a week ago. So please change your CEO blog bookmark.

I changed to my own domain after studying internet search engine behavior. With my own domain, I can gain more hits as I get the credit for the traffic rather than Blogspot.

As with many changes, this is short term gain for long term pain. I lost my Technorati ranking. I was at about 40,000 with 116 links from 55 blogs. A week ago, I started at 1,200,000 with no links and am now at about 600,000 with 6 links from 4 sites. So feel free to help me out and link to CEO Blog at

I also start from scratch on many of my other rankings and referals. Of course my old CEO blog points to my new CEO blog so if people click on one of the articles, Amazon book reviews, old links etc, they still get here.

One of my friends was in town last night and staying over today. He is a big triathlon guy so we were talking about running, training etc. so Elizabeth broke out the Jack Daniels. I told her it was a bit early in the morning but ...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Psychology of Winning

Today I had a long YPO event. Took me out of my comfort zone which is good. I often do things that are a bit beyond my comfort zone. It helps me to grow.

I read a very fast book recently called, "The Psychology of Winning" by Dr. Denis Waitley. This book is almost too shallow in that most of it is about thinking positively and having positive thoughts. On the other hand, sometimes the simplest of ideas are the deepest and have the greatest impact.

One thing I always try to do it to plan appropriate responses to challenges. Reframing can be very powerful. Reframe what happens into a positive. My assistant recently did this for me. I was telling her about an aquaintance who just died of cancer. Her response was "it makes us realize how lucky we are".

Because the book is such a fast read, I can't suggest anyone not reading it.
I won't give away the punch line; however, it never hurts to think positive.

Just Do it - 9 ways to keep inspired to blog

Last night I met one of my blogger CEO friends at a Communitech function. I won't identify him because I do not want to embarrass him. His CEO blog is not current. No entries in the past month. His excuse - he was too busy. When is a CEO not busy?

It got me thinking of how to keep people inspired to keep their blog current. Here are my "9 ways to keep inspired to blog"

1 - Keep a file of blog ideas. As I come across things that might be of blog interest, I clip them and add them to my file. I have a physical file an electronic one.

2 - Get a few blog entries "in the can". Sometimes I feel creative and the blog entries just flow. In these times, it is easy to write an extra entry. Then when I post it, there is usually only a few minutes of polish to make it right.

3 - Book reports are an easy way to create a post for me. I am going to read anyways so may as well do a short summary and comment on the books I read. I usually post my review on Amazon as well so this brings a bit of added traffic to the blog.

4 - Borrow a complete entry from someone else who has a good entry. I follow a few blogs and can easily use technorati to search for blogs that might have appropriate entries I can use. Of course I ask for permission but no one ever says no. I do the same thing with articles.

5 - Use a guest blogger. I have not done this but am sure many people would be willing to do a few entries if asked. This is a great way to cover if you are on a vacation.

6 - Just start to write anything. I find usually this gets the juices flowing and soon I have an entry.

7 - Use and comment on a quotation. There are lots of sites with quotations out there. Just choose one that resonates and post it with some comment.

8 - Entries do not have to be books. Short is fine. I like to limit my time for a post to less than 20 minutes. Readers do not like them much longer and it makes blogging justifiable in my mind.

9 - Just Do It (Nike - feel free to sue for trademark infringement but know that I have a lot of runner friends)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blueprint to a Billion - 7 Essentials to Achieve Exponential Growth

My brother Glen has finally joined the blogsphere with a blog at My brother Lyle has had a blog forever and even got a Biodiesel book published from it.

One of the latest books I have learned from is "Blueprint to a Billion - 7 Esentials to Achieve Exponetial Growth" by David Thomson. He talks about businesses that successfully move from zero to over a Billion dollars in sales. According to Blueprint, the odds of doing this are one in 20,000. Does not seem like totally bad odds to me.

Of course we are over a Billion now but I can always learn. One of my principles is to filter information and morph it into something I can use.

The companies that hit this Billion $ status had a start up phase (called the runway to growth) where things move at a normal sales growth. This period takes 4 to 12 years. Then an inflection point where revenue breaks into an exponential trajectory. My challenge it to figure out what causes the inflections.

The book talks about tying growth to marquee customers (dangerous but can work - eg there are many successful car parts companies like Linamar and Magna). It also talked about working with alliances - tying in with a big company not only as a customer but in a stronger partnership.

Billion $ companies are masters of exponential returns. I could have figured this - I just need to figure out how to get it.

Of course I like the book because as I have said before, growth is key to a healthy company. Good growth (growth not lead by just price cutting) leads to painless efficiencies.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Winning in Life and Sales.

I moved my CEO blog to my own domain courtesy of Buy your domain names from them - they are good people. So if you bookmark this change it to

I was advised that this is a way to increase the legitimacy of my blog. Ultimately this yeilds more traffic. I figure if I am going to blog, I might as well have lots of readers. I checked and most CEO blogs are on their own domain.

It was good to play duplicate bridge tonight. Takes my mind off a stressful day. I won with only a 54% average. Most of the other players played between 47 and 53.5% games. Not much difference.

It reminds me of the very small difference between the winner and the rest of the people in life. It applies to many areas. Great Olympic atheletes are only fractions of a second faster than ones you have never heard of.

A lot of what we do involves sales. Coming in second in sales mean you make no sale. Each presentation we give that results in no sale means no revenue. We need to learn from each failure (and in sales - second is a failure) so we often ask prospects for a debriefing. Often they say we came in second. Big deal. We do not want second - we need first. So we need to learn, course correct and win.

I've moved my blog

Finally I have my own domain. Please bookmark my new location

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Double Digit Growth

I went to a YPO event tonight. Great speaker. YPOer talked about integrity and government corruption. In the middle of the talk, I got a cell call. Need to learn to turn it off in those situations.

The event started early so I needed to leave work early. So when I got home, my emails were way backed up.

I just read a book called, " Double - Digit Growth - How Great Companies Achieve It - No Matter What" by Michael Treacy.

This is now one of my favourite books. (I tend to be a bit fickle and flip from book to book as to which ones are the best.) One thing that I love about the book is the number of examples it gives of companies that maintain double-digit growth for long periods of times. I am a huge growth addict (growth is a great way to drive efficiency into an organization painlessly). Growth is also fun and inspirational. I could rephrase one of the principles of the book with one of my favourite sayings, "Fail often, fail fast, and fail cheap." The gist of it is to experiment in different areas and search aggressively for areas where things can get traction. Look at the downside so don't risk too much. Do it fast and do it often.

The book talks about the toughest way to grow as taking market share from another competitor, growing within a static market is extremely expensive and in most cases very damaging to a company. That's why we constantly seek new markets or markets and change. I have always said, "Change is opportunity".

The book is a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in business.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In Praise of Sleep

I blogged on sleep - specifically on March 5th and April 11th. I got a lot of feedback. Much of it in favour of sleep. So I thought I would present a counter view from the New York Times. They say lack of sleep causes problems - specifically high blood pressure. Read what they have to say here and here.

I am still trying to figure out what my sleep philosophy is although a part of me has sold myself on the fact that I do not need an excessive amount of sleep.

Ideas vs Implementation

Ideas are a dime a dozen. I have a file with hundreds of ideas I will never have time to do.

I am often appoached by entrepreneurs with "confidential" and "secret" ideas that are going to revolutionize the world. They often want me to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (I don't). Especially now that I am at SYNNEX, legal agreements require an extra step.

It is not the ideas that will make a business successful, it is the implementation.

When EMJ was public, I was worried people would see our statements and public disclosures and copy what we were doing. Some tried. Over time I came to realize that implementation is hundreds of little things that tend to be almost impossible to copy. Also, businesses are not static. In the rapidly changing business world, in my case accelerated by being in technology, even implementation is a moving target.

Most entrepeneurs could be more successful by simply implementing now and faster rather than tryng to keep everything a secret. I have seen more failures caused by inaction than caused by having ideas stolen.

Paul Graham sums it up well here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Goal Setting Exercise

It was a great long weekend. Friday Elizabeth and I played bridge in the Toronto Regional duplicate bridge tournament. We came in 2nd in the afternoon and evening sessions although the results online seemed to indicate we were 3rd and 4th. Not sure how that happens. Still good solid games.

And then Saturday and Sunday, they weather was awesome. Although I had a couple of long workouts and a nice Easter lunch with family, I kick myself for not getting out more.

I did read a novel for a change so was quite a relaxing weekend. I am recharged and cannot wait to get in tomorrow.

I blog about efficiency and the reason for calling this CEO Blog - Time Leadership is Leadership is about going in the right direction (goals) so I thought I would share this in article.

A 60-Minute Goal Setting Exercise that can save you 100 hours in the next month By Jim Estill.

I think that most people would agree that the people who have goals are more successful than those who do not have any.

I often talk about leadership and management. Leadership is about doing the right things while management is about doing things right. Often when we study time management, we study efficiency (doing things right) and make the assumption that we have the effectiveness (leadership) solved.

The first step in any time management system should be to work on goals and as such, I use the following 60 Minute Goal Setting Exercise.

Step 1: at the top of a blank piece of paper write down "values" and then spend 10 to 15 minutes writing down everything that you value. There is a great website: that has a list of several hundred values to start your mind thinking in the right direction. After the time is up, stop doing this and move to Step 2.

Step 2: at the top of a blank piece of paper write down "lifetime goals". This is where you can dream; for example, what places would you like to visit; what experiences would you like to have; what would you like to accomplish within your lifetime. This might include traveling to Australia; getting a university degree; living in an X square foot house, etc. There are no rules to this brainstorming - simply make a list.

I have done this goal setting exercise many times and I tend to use the same list of lifetime goals and add to the list each time I do the exercise.

Step 3: at the top of a blank piece of paper write down what you would do if you had six months to live. This part of the exercise really came home to me this week when one of my close friends died at 36 years old. Some of us may have only six months to live; however, we may not know it yet. List everything that you would do if you had only six months to live. Part of the purpose of this exercise that I found works well for me is that it brings the truly important into focus. Often I find things that I would do if I had only six months to live that are not listed on my life time goals.

Step 4: at the top of a blank piece of paper write down your goals for this year. After doing the first three steps, you will find this step much easier than the others. These are the goals to focus on NOW.

This total exercise will only take an hour. An hour spent clarifying your goals can save you hundreds of hours.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Let my People go Surfing

I had a YPO meeting tonight. I always get things into prospective at these meetings.

I read an interesting book called, " Let my people go surfing - the education of a reluctant businessman" by Yvon Chouinard who is the founder and owner of Patagonia. The surfing in the book refers to real surfing (in waves) unlike the surfing that most of readers coming to this blog are doing. The book is an interesting and farily easy read. Because his original start was a love of outdoor adventure and what they primarily sell is outdoor wear, his employees and his culture centre around the outdoors and the cool factor around outdoor adventuring.

He has created a perception that Patagonia is a "good for the world" company and much of the book centres around the good works that Patagonia does.

I am always inspired to read success and trials and tribulations of other business people and that is why I enjoyed the book.

This all ties back to my thoughts on branding. Patagonia has created a brand. The book is even part of it. The brand is the culture. Interesting.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

How To Build Sustainable Value

Bad traffic today but beautiful weather. Cannot wait to get my bicycle out.

A few weeks ago, Tom Beakbane, commented on my blog when I was talking about branding. It turns out that my Director of Marketing, Bill Reimer, knows Tom and so loaned me one of Tom's books called, "How To Build Sustainable Value". Although it is a book, it is quite short (36 pages), so even the most reluctant reader can get through it fairly quickly. Because I have a high interest in marketing and branding, I have found the book to be highly interesting and inspirational.

The book is written in a series of bullet points so is a bit like a book summary. Tough to speed read but lots of information packed in.

The main points that I got from the book are that I need to continue to be highly focused as branding is in the mind of the consumer. Tom was also good at laying out the complexity and difficulties in over simplifying branding. This said, he recognizes the value of simplicity.

One thing that I was surprised at was on the inside notes, he said, "No part of this guidebook may be copied or quoted without written permission of Tom Beakbane." This seems a bit counter-productive when someone like me wants to review it.

I did come away from reading it with the impression that Tom is a real branding and marketing pro.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Asset-Based Thinking

Lazy weekend mostly. Yesterday was my birthday. Went out for that. Although I did review some contracts and do some email, I did not feel particularly productive.

I read a great book today - "Change the way you see everything through Asset Based Thinking (ABT)" by Kathryn Cramer and Hank Wasiak. The main thesis of the book is that we should focus on our assets and not our liabilities or weaknesses. They say that most people are DBT not ABT (Deficit based thinkers not Asset based thinkers)

Of course that resonates with me. I have long believed that the greatest results can be achieved by focusing on strengths. I spend a lot of my time in self discovery. The more I know myself, the better I can focus on my strengths. I also spend a lot of time polishing my strengths. You know from this blog that I focus on efficiency and time management. I actually manage to get quite a bit done so might be fairly good at it but I still take the time to focus on it and study it.

"ABT is not blind optimism or magical thinking". "ABT puts the power of personal, interpersonal and situational assets in your hands so that you can make progress and create the future you desire".

Part of the theory is about reframing (one of my favourite techniques). Rather than say a situation is bad, rather look at what is good about it. In many cases this is as simple as changing the talk about it. Rather than "That's impossible" - "what is possible" or "how could it be possible".

The book includes a series of vignettes about people who use ABT. It also has some exercises. Even with these, it is a fast read.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random thoughts - not too interesting.

I did whole company presentations in the past couple of days. Just filling people in on how we are doing both locally and globally. Also presenting our strategy and how we are doing on our goals. Also answering questions. Because of different locations and the need to keep the phones covered, I end up doing the presentation 5 times (and I should probably even do it more than that). It can be tough to keep the presentation interesting for such a diverse audience.

I look at how people find my CEO blog. Interesting that a number of people found blog by searching for "CEO's sleep less" and "How much CEO's sleep". As I look back, I have blogged quite a bit lately on sleep. I also look at where I am in the search engine rankings. For "CEO Blog", I am on the first page. And of course for "Time Leadership" I am number 1. Of course these are not searched for very often. Thinking - is there is any value in optimizing for more common searches?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Time Management/Leadership CD reviewed

I played duplicate bridge tonight. Then a stimulating business call with a friend from Vancover (helps with the time zones) so now I am pumped up.

SYNNEX has hired a time management/organisation consultant, Alex Revai. Of course I am a time and efficiency person. I gave him one of my CDs and here are his uncensored and unsolicited comments:

"Unquestionably, a great tool for anyone, who is motivated to improve their personal productivity. A definition that I like for the latter, is very much in line with your approach:

“Consistently completing Strategic Next Actions that are linked to Meaningful Objectives” (Sally McGhee)

Your tips, for the most part, reflect a well-considered collection of best practices. Goal setting, actions that are linked to and evaluated against those goals, consolidated and prioritized tasks (to-dos), reliance on the powerful features of Outlook, and the wealth of other, practical (and psychological) suggestions make your CD invaluable for those who are motivated to learn and improve.

Having said that, I believe your CD is useful primarily for the innately disciplined and thinking types. Regrettably and increasingly, however, we live in a world, where fewer and fewer people take the time to read, listen to audio or willing to stop (or slow down) and think. TV and visually/orally stimulated people are preconditioned for quick, gut reactions and often, incorrect decisions. Many, if not most, people these days don’t have the patience to read (more than a few sentences), process information or making thoughtful decisions. Everything is artificially accelerated by the speed of technology and communications. It is evident from some of your remarks that you are well aware of these issues and trying to influence your audience to act otherwise.

I found some of your ideas very original (or in any case, some that I haven’t heard or read yet). I enjoyed your creative procrastinating tips very much. I also like the “thinking on paper” and your suggested “breaks and changes” process.

I must admit, that journaling, mantras and thrice a year New Years resolutions may not be for me. I’m not too keen on speed-reading either, and even less so on speed-talking. Especially the latter, I find, contributes to a lot of misunderstanding. (Maybe I’m getting old and my hearing is going?) Mind you, even you suggested to slow down at least for a voicemail, when leaving your phone number or email address. What a waste it is to get voicemails with incomprehensible, slurred, rattled-off phone numbers!

Oh yes, moving closer to work. If only that were so easy! Regrettably, most of my workplaces were hardly closer than about 45 minutes to an hour, one way. Yes, I made good use of the tape players in my car.

All in all, you (and I) can only help (or influence) people, who recognize they have a problem (or problems) and are motivated to do something about it. However, that shouldn’t discourage us from trying. Clearly, it’s a passion for you, as it is for me.

Thanks for sharing your tips with me. It will be my pleasure to recommend it to others."

Monday, April 03, 2006

CEO Blog gets press

Long day at Ronson today. Arrived at shortly after 7 and worked until almost 10. Still did not get done what I wanted to.

CEO Blog traffic continues to be fairly high thanks to mentions in my brother Lyle’s blog and an article in REX magazine. I have not seen the paper copy yet but others have.

People certainly have opinions about sleep. My last post generated lots of emails and a few comments. One helpful email suggested I read more on sleep deprivation. Being an equal opportunity blog, I thought I would post the sleep deprivation links that were forwared to me here, here, here and here. Of course later studies seem to show that all the talk about sleep deprivation is a myth.

My days seem busy to the max right now. Performance reviews take added time on top of the usual volume. It does present a good time to talk to some people though. Doing whole company meetings on where we stand and our goals. Continued work on the business and branding plans. Lots of big things happening.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Polyphasic Sleep or catnapping

I am more productive today.

I have long felt that people sleep too much. I have even considered this to be a personal competitive advantage. If I sleep less than other people, I can get more done. I think of it as a fundamental time management tool.

I have been following the Polyphasic Sleep chatter in the blogsphere and on the internet. (Polyphasic sleep is sleeping 20 minutes every 4 hours for a total sleep time of 2 hours per day). Of course the attraction for me is huge. More time to get more done.

Challenges to me doing Polyphasic full time are:

1 - Health. I am a health guy and am not convinced of the health of it.

2 - Family. I do not have the support of Elizabeth. For some reason she thinks I should sleep at night. I have not spoken to mom or dad but would be certain they would not approve.

3 - No place to sleep. I work in an office and cannot easily nap at work. It seems to weird - even for me. For that matter, I usually wear a suit or good clothes so can't exactly sleep in them.

I use a variation of polyphasic sleep - some would call catnapping. It addresses all of the above concerns. I am convinced it allows me to be more efficient and sleep less than many other people do. I use it when I do the redeye which I seem to do every couple of weeks. I use it on the weekend and sometimes if I get home in the evening. What I am doing and what I have learned from Polyphasic sleep is:

1 - 20 minutes is the perfect length of time for a nap. So perhaps I do not practise polyphasic sleep but I do find a 20 minute nap refreshing. I set my alarm for 21 minutes and assume it takes me 1 minute to fall asleep. I do not feel guilty napping for 20 minutes. So far, I only use this on weekends and evenings.

2 - I have learned to fall asleep quickly. One minute is all it takes.

3 - I am trying to learn to fall asleep sitting up or in busy, bright, loud places etc. (like on planes, in my car (not while driving) and in airports or at home with the dog barking). This is where I could really use it.

4 - I use napping in the evening to give me the energy to continue. I usually do not get home until it is almost time for bed but if I do, I nap for 20 minute then go out, do what I want etc.

5 - I use it when my body naturally tells me to sleep. Sometimes in the evening I am reading and find myself nodding off or not concentrating. Perfect time for a nap.

6 - I have read that body temperature regulates partly how "awake" we are. To raise body temperature after I get up, I often (but not always) take a brisk walk or do some other physical activity to get me pumped again. I have used this technique for surviving the redeye for some time.

I am a strong advocate of cat napping. Learn how to do it and increase efficiency.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Filtering and Fast ways to read Magazines.

I felt like I wasted my day today. Did a bit of email, read some trade/business magazines, ran some errands but other than that - nothing. It was pointed out to me that I should not feel that bad - I did fly in on the red eye this morning.

My time saving tip for the day is to share magazines with someone else who can higlight the important articles to read. My father started doing this with Business Week many years ago. He would read it and mark on the page numbers and pass it on to my brother Glen or I to pass on to the other.

Another favourite speed reading tip that I sometimes use is to read the first and last paragraph of any article. In many cases, you will get 90% of the content of the article in a fraction of the time.

One Business Week article that caught my eye (it was old (Jan 30/06) since our technique of passing magazines around can take a while) was an article on Stealth Sponsorship. This is where "independant" journalists or writers write an article with a favourable view on something while being paid by the company that gets the favourable view. This was apparently done in the payday loan industry. Some influential syndicated journalists lost their jobs over it.

This brings me to a topic I discuss often - filtering. Just because something is in print (or on the internet) does not make it true. I am very wary of ulterior motives. I am also aware that I need to accept others' opinions just as ideas and fliter them. Accept the ones I like and reject or modify the ones I do not.