Thursday, June 29, 2006

How Cool Technology is an Ice Breaker

I am naturally more introverted than not. I have decided to act extroverted when I am out (of course knowing me, this only applies if it does not take me more time). I think it is good for stretching my comfort zone. I think it is good for making people feel comfortable. Interesting to experiment. Could even follow from my "Never Eat Alone" post.

In some sense we live in a strange world when we expect no one to talk in elevators or in many public areas. We tend to talk to those we have affinity towards.

I have noticed that there are certain things that naturally lead to conversation and are almost ice breakers. Many of these are technology products. People seem to be attracted and open up to people when they see the new Apple notebooks with the cool kick out power cords and even the built in cameras and infra-red adds to its cool impact.

I was one of the first users of the Blacberry 8700 and that certainly attracted a lot of conversation. Even my Bluetooth headset at one point attracted conversation. The iPod used to and the iPod Nano does sometimes.

I have often found that there is a comaradery on the road with myself and other Prius owners. We all tend to wave at each other. I was recently in California and I was thinking the people there were not as friendly as the people in Canada because none of the Prius owners were waving until I remembered that I had not rented a Prius.

If all else fails and you can’t get anyone to talk to you even if you have cool technology, I suggest that you get a dog or a baby. Time management alert though.

My daughter, Laura, emailed me an article on why I get funny characters when I cut and paste from Word to my blog. So now you know.

Yesterday I complained that CEO blog searches put me on the second page of Google. Now I like Yahoo better, they put me on first page.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

20% Less

I was asked again today how I find time to do my CEO Blog. Interesting question. I quite honestly don't spend that long on it. I blog about what I am thinking about at the time (sometimes that's not much). I use a lot of tricks which I have blogged about often like How to Write an Article in 20 minutes. Maybe its time for me to write another blog post on it.

I noticed that my blog has slipped since I got my own domain to second page on Google when you search for CEO Blog. I have read a bit about Search Engine Optimization but am not sure how to move it up except by saying CEO Blog often. On the other hand, I am on and off first page for searches for SYNNEX and of course for Jim Estill I get first spot. I also notice people find my blog for other searches like book titles or "Leadership vs Management". Interesting to watch it.

Today I am thinking about efficiency. If I could reduce my interactions and conversations by 20% I would be more productive. Of course in some cases this would be rude so before everyone starts flaming me - just consider the number of conversations, meetings etc that could be reduced without negative consequences. Interesting possibility.


One of the great things about being fairly public about my time management efficiency and goal orientation is that people send me neat things about those topics. One of my staff recently sent me It is a fairly neat, easy to use website. It allows you to put your goals online, share them with friends, and track them. I have started to track my goals there (but I doubt I will share them all with you).

One of the principles that I have long followed on goal setting is to not only set goals, but to track them. Joe’s Goal Program is a way to log everyday your good and bad habits.

In the end, life is all about habits. The better our habits, the more successful we will be.
We are the results of what we repeatedly do.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Slow start today (this is a euphemism for saying I slept in). I think I am still a bit worn from the recent travel schedule.

Mid day, I did a sprint Triathlon at Guelph lake. 3/4 Kilometer swim, 19 K bike and 5 K run. I only achieved one of my goals (to finish). Total time 1:39:08 - not good. 2 minutes slower than last year and 5 minutes slower than 2004. What killed my time this year was a slow 5K (27:06) compared to 23:03 and 23:43 in previous years. What causes me to show poorly in general (apart from a highly competitive field) is slow bike times and slow transitions (the time to change from swim to bike took 4+ minutes).

I do not train to do a tri like this. I figure I should always be in good enough shape to just do it. So this was my first swim of the year. Very little cycling also. And my slow result indicates that I have let my workouts slip. Good motivation to rachet up a notch.

The day was perfect for a Tri. Sunny, perhaps a bit hot but not terrible. Because of my age category, I was the 4th wave of swimmers. Waves are 2 minutes apart. I had my wetsuit on and warmed up a bit in the water before the race. Despite starting in waves, it was crowded. I was kicked twice and had to stop to put my goggles on again. By about half way, I was starting to pass some of the slower swimmers in the previous wave. By 3/4 way, swimmers from the wave behind were passing me.

Getting out of my wetsuit and into my bike shoes was a chore. Some people practise this. I never have.

Running my bike to the place where we are allowed to mount is difficult in bike shoes. And I was not fast in getting clipped in (something else to practise). The cycle course was a bit hilly but not too bad. I am not as comfortable with changing my gears as I should be so could practise that more. I lost my water bottle in the first K. My fault, I dropped it. I braked on the downhills and was passed by many. I passed many on the uphills. I need to get used to cycling at higher speeds. 19K is a long cycle for me. Same problem on running in cycle shoes into the transition area. It is awkward.

By the time I started running, I was feeling weak. Usually I show respectably in the running department. It feels weird to start running after cycling. Again - something to practise.

So the morale it, lots of things to practise if I want to fare better on future triathlons.

Tonight I ran a 5K race in Hamilton. This was really not my idea - it was Elizabeth's. I achieved 2 of my 3 goals on that race. To finish and to finish under 25 minutes. I was 24:55. Elizabeth won her age category in 20:10. She wanted to finish under 20. Still she won.

And now for some reason I am tired and think I will sleep well. Must be all the sun I got.


We learn more when we listen than when we talk.

I wonder if the same is true of writing? We likely learn more by reading than when we write.

The only defense for writing is it does help solidify thought and pull together our various learnings. Organization helps learning. Writing helps organization.

Or perhaps I am just good at justifying...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Blogging Policy

I am just in from California off the redeye. I have a fairly full day until 2:30 or so.

I am totally inspired. I have many ideas I need to do. I will need to energize the whole organization to accomplish what needs to be done.

SYNNEX is coming out with a blogging policy. I bought Simon, our in house attourney a copy of Robert Scoble and Shel Isreal's book Naked Conversations. And I will need to make sure I influence policy properly. Not sure my policy that everyone must have a blog though is what we will end up with.

I was in board meetings for the past couple of days. One board member who read my blog thought I must spend hours per week on it. No - I pride myself on 20 minutes of blogging 5 days a week (sounds like what everyone should do for exercise). A large part of "easy" blogging is just to write about what you are already thinking about and working on.

I have a ton of blogging time saving tips. One is to use something someone else has done like a quote.

So I leave you with this quote:

"Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation" by Robert H. Schuller.

Off to prepare for my day.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Never Eat Alone

Board meetings most of the day.

I read a great book on the way to Fremont, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi with Tahl Raz. I highly recommend it. Although I network a lot, it was an inspirational refresher. It is about networking (the people kind, not the computer kind – although I am an advocate of both).

As a time management person, I often choose to eat alone. And I choose fast restaurants (not fast food) when I do eat with others. Ferrazzi understands good time use. He often eats with groups of people.

Never Eat Alone speaks of the value of networking and has a number of ideas on how to network. 3 take aways. Always network first by seeing what value you can add to the person rather than looking at it the other way around. Second, although the book did not state this explicitly, networking is common courtesy and actually enjoyable. It is not a distasteful task. Third, nurture your network. Figure out ways to add value and keep in touch. I suppose in some way, my blog does this.

I also realize how extensive my network is. It is not about the 3000+ contacts I have in Outlook, it is about the people I really know and the people that know me (often more people know me – position, speaking engagements, articles and blogs tend to do that). I am charmed to know a lot of highly influential people.

I have a very good relationships with CEOs and Presidents of many companies as a result of my years in YPO. Other organizations like top 40 under 40 and other awards also helps build a peer group. I, of course, have a very deep rolodex in the computer industry (27 years will do that). I have many deep contacts in Guelph and Kitchener Waterloo since I have been in business in that area for years. I have numerous senior contacts of influential people from my board positions on companies like RIM. My years of running a public company gave me many contacts on Bay Street and Wall Street. Equally important as the people of perceived high influence that I know, I have lots of friends, all of whom are in my network, from just being alive and involved in things.

I loved one quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him"

Even though my network is broad, I am inspired to nurture it, build it and organize it more.

Now off to a board dinner. Hopefully they won't make me eat alone.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fathers Day

I am back in the airport going to California again. Did not even get time to blog since coming back on the redeye Thursday morning.

Today I ran the Waterloo 10K. The day was hot and humid even by the time the race started at 9. The first K seemed easy. I heard one of the runners say 4:15. Thats too fast for me. The mile came in at 7:30 which was on track but a bit fast for the heat. By the first water stop, I was fading. I walked 50 steps while drinking. There was a 3K and a 5K race going on at the same time so I could soon see these runners turning around (The race was out and back). I wanted to complete 4 K before seeing the 10K racers coming back but I only got to 3.5K or so. By 5 K, I was walking through all the waterstops. The heat was killing me. I tend to be more affected than some other runners. In the end I finished in 55 and a bit. Slowest 10K ever for me.

Elizabeth came third woman overall (only beat by a couple of teen agers and one of them only beat her by 1 second), first in her age, first masters.

When I run I have 3 goals. I often use this trick in other parts of my life. In my Time Leadership CD and eBook, I call this the Power of 3 goals. In this race, my first goal was 45 min, second 50 min and third was just to finish. I finished so made my third goal.

I have been thinking a lot lately about persistance. I have always said "persistance pays".

There could be a dopwnside to thinking this way. Am I giving myself permission to fail. Fail because I can then use my persistance to try again. For that matter - perhaps rather than try, I should just do it. Try implies I might not be successful at it (whatever it is)

Just something I am thinking about.

After the race, David and Beth took me to lunch for fathers day. All my kids gave me a gift certificate to Bulk Barn which is great because they know I make my own museli and Bulk Barn has most of the ingredients I need. Also good for camping supplies but not sure I am going to get much of that in this year. Very thoughtful.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

China Inc.

I am in the airport lounge in San Francisco. Wireless connection is slow - bad for my time management.

I have just finished 5 straight days of executive meetings and presentations. I have tons of things I need to do. Not only does my normal work back up but the meetings show me the many things I still have to work on. Inspiring and daunting.

I read a great book last night. China Inc. - How the rise of the next superpower challenges America and the world. The following review includes sections from Winston Kotzan's review on Amazon. I figure why reinvent the wheel.

The rise of China to a global power is going to happen and is happening.

The first few chapters of the book astonish the reader by putting China's massive population and economic figures into their mind-boggling perspective. Most interesting is the ambition the Chinese government has for building every aspect of China's cities into world-class centers of attraction. The book particularly examines Shanghai, which has perhaps the fastest developing areas and the most exciting night life. China is a country where if you are one in a million, there are a thousand others like you. This is driving fierce competition among Chinese university students to be the best at their trade. In turn, China has a large crop of bright, young engineers to plan for her future. On the other hand, China's humongous supply of available manufacturing workers makes human labor less expensive than machine labor in many cases. Because labor in China comes at a low cost - from the assembly line worker to the factory's plumbing repair man - Chinese manufacturing firms are able to sell their goods to the world at an unbeatable "China Price."

China Inc. investigates with great depth all the major controversies that surround China today. A lack of intellectual property protection, questionable currency conversion policies, and even prospects for war sparked off by heated international conflicts such as Taiwan.

As the book closes out, it leaves open an eerie "what if" scenario wondering about the global military force that would belong to a richer and more powerful China. Business leaders, politicians, travelers, and even ambitious college students in the United States should read this book. A major concern addressed in China Inc. is the lack of American understanding about the rise of China and an apathy for competitiveness that will leave America left far behind in the upcoming century of global competition.

The book does not well address the beurocratic nature of the government and the challenges doing business there.

I am pleased that SYNNEX is already in China (with over 500 people) and already using some of the resources China offers. We are even begining to use our office there to sell our services to other companies. I already have over 50 people in China supporting our Canada and Mexico operation.

Some people are nervous about China and the changes it might bring. Not everyone like change like I do. I actually made a comment in the press today about change at Change is opportunity. Just figure out how to benefit from it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Corporate Values and HR

Today was more executive meeting in Fremont. Most of the day centred around HR. We reviewed the results of the company staff survey in detail. There are many action items we need to work on. Although HR is a department, it is the whole company and particularly the leadership that is ultimately responsible for staff, staff inspiration etc.

As with most companies, we have a mission statement ("We optimize supply chain Economics") and a list of corporate values ("We create value for all our constituents. We are committed to deliver the finest of products and services to the industry. We tresure loyalty, teamwork, integrity and hard work.). I spend a lot of time on my personal goals and I know they are closely tied to my values. Companies are the same - goals tend to flow from values. (see my 60 minute goal setting exercise)

I am still struggling with my efficiency while on the road. Full day of meetings and the usual volume of calls and emails continued anyways. Especially with the Azerty deal closing. I am not complaining though - it is nice to be so popular ;-)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

At Least I Read

I just out of my second full day of executive meetings in Fremont.

My mother follows my blog and is delighted that I read (her greatest fear was that I would grow up to be illiterate). She sent me this email (Margaret is her sister)

"I wrote this in a letter to Margaret many years ago: I thought it ties in with all your book reviews you have been writing.

"Jim began to read for pleasure this week...the History of the United States for Young People that was given to me as a child. Up to this point it was only "pure" science that he would ever read on his own. I think his oral reading gets progresively worse but he was so delighted to be able to read this history and stuck it out for thirty minute periods, so I am hopeful.""

I am not sure how old I was at the time but I think 6-8. I, personally, think my mom should have had greater worries than a son that would only read about science. Not to disappoint but I still like reading science books. The following book ties into this strange habit of reading pure science books.

I read a book on a recent flight for recreation called, A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. It is about quantum physics. I have huge respect for Stephen Hawking. He suffers from a terrible disease and is confined to a wheelchair and is basically a quadrapelegic yet he has a brilliant mind and a way of simplifying things that makes it easy to understand. Stephen Hawking is a physicist and an astronomer and the book deals with both physics and astronomy and the interaction of materials, planets, etc. It is a totally fascinating book and I would highly recommend it.

The only thing that I did not like about the book is that it burst my bubble on Isaac Newton who he claims was not a pleasant man and his relationships with other people were very strained. On the other hand, I have learned over time that even people we look up to are not perfect.

It is also interesting to read about the relationship between religion and science and how tough it was on people like Galileo.

Friday, June 09, 2006

7 Tips to Make Travel More Productive

I am in the airport awaiting a flights to Fremont (well San Franciso actually then a drive to Fremont) where I will be attending the SYNNEX quarterly executive meetings. The meetings go all weekend and into the week next week. Will be interesting, inspirational and tough all at the same time.

I have a fairly heavy travel schedule these days. I am working hard on my efficiency while I travel. I want to become as productive on the road as in the office. In some ways being productive on the road can be easier since there are long periods of uninterrupted time. In some ways it is more difficult because the people who help me do my job are not here (so I have to do the work myself).

I also find that many things “wait” until I get back so the days after I return can be a bit full.

My tips for work travel efficiency:

1 – I leave "out of office" messages on email and voicemail. I include on these who else might be able to help. This helps reduce the call and email volume.

2 - I usually carry a notebook. I make sure I have downloaded what I need. Confidentiality is always a concern though so I choose what I work on.

3 - I carry a Blackberry. Awesome device - get one. (and I know I have a conflict since I am on their Board of Directors). This is how I keep up with email and is also my cell phone. I make sure it is recently synced so I can have the details of where I am staying, confirmations numbers etc.

4 - I always carry reading. I love to leave home with a stack of trade journals and then only tear out the pages of interest and leave the rest thus lightening my load. I also carry a few books.

5 - My assistant gives me a file with flight information, hotel, rental car etc and a mapquest of where I am going. If we have a real map, she includes that. It also includes meeting agendas and details of what I am doing. I would be lost if I did not have the travel file (although my RIM has most information on it too)

6 - One thing I am trying to get better at is completely dealing with an issue even if I am traveling. I used to leave things for when I got back but am increasingly trying to just deal with it.

7 - My targus backpack is always packed with pens, highlighter, reading glasses, calculator etc. Everything I need to do my job.

8 - I am starting to carry a list of things I need to do that can be done while I travel. This has served me well. Certainly helps my productivity.

I will do another post on other non work related travel habits (although most things are tied together).

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Palm Springs, Symantec and Marshmellows

I am in Palm Springs at a Symantec conference. It is HOT. 114 degrees which is 42 Celcius! even tonight at the recption at 7:30, it was hot. Needless to say, I did not run outside and the 4 miles I ran inside almost killed me.

I was speaking to my daughter Laura today about debt, managing finances etc. (and no she has no problems). I brought up the fact that people who think long term and people who can delay gratification tend to be more successful. We respect people with a PhD because we know they put in a lot of hours and delayed their gratification (of course truly successful people would enjoy the experience along the way but that is another Blog topic.).

I am very long term. If I ever have a disagreement with my people, it tends to be when people are thinking too short term.

I read a book recently called "The 5 Lessons A Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth"
by Richard Paul Evans. He retold the marshmellow story below:

"The Marshmallow Experiment
A group of scientists created an experiment to test emotional intelligence. They told four-year-old children that they could have one marshmallow now or, if they could wait while the researchers ran an errand, they could have two. They then placed marshmallows in front of the children and left the room. Some of the children waited for the second marshmallow, while others immediately devoured the one in front of them. The follow-up research was most fascinating.

Those children who could delay gratification “generally grew up to be better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident and dependable”. Those who couldn’t were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated and stubborn. They buckled under stress and shied away from challenges?

In addition those who could delay gratification also scored an average of 210 points higher on the SATs."

Just food for thought.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Megatrends 2010

I might be working too hard to be efficient. If I work too many hours or focus too much on then "doing", I do not leave myself time for the important things like strategy and the big picture.

Last night I read Megatrends 2010 by Patricia Aburdene who co-authored Megatrends with John Naisbitt. Much of the book touted the benefits of meditation. I have toyed with meditation over the years. it definitely is on my list to move up in the next few months. She gives concrete examples of great CEO's who get their best ideas while meditating.

Her first Megatrend was the power of spirituality. Although meditation and spirituality are not always linked from a religious view, they are from a practical view. Her 4th trend is the rise of sprituality in Business. The 6th trend is "The wave of Conscious Solutions" - again values based.

Her second trend is quite related - the rise of Conscious Capitalism. Basically companies that do the right thing are moreprofitable etc. The 5th trend talks about the values driven consumer. This ties in with her 7th trend which is "The Socially Responsibile Investment Boom".

The only trend which differed from the overall theme of spirituality was "Leading from the Middle". The thesis here is that the people in the middle of the organization will be the ones that get things done and ultimately be the true leaders of the companies - not the CEO. So now, I might have to change my aspirations ;-). It is interesting that many of the examples she still uses are about people at the top of the companies though.

So I could summarize her 7 trends in 3 - Spirtuality, increasing values (and perhaps these are closely tied so maybe there are just 2 trends) and Leading from the Middle.

Overall, it is a great book. It stimulates thought. It challenges. And it is worth reading.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Business Success Ideas and Graduation.

It has been a few days since I have blogged. I have been swamped; it is quarter end, the Azerty deal is closing and lots of other issues I am dealing with. I am trying to use some of my best efficiency habits to get through things.

I attended my daughter Beth's graduation at Queens. She got a BA in français with a minor in mathematics. I am very proud of her. She is going back next year to complete a teaching degree.

Sometime I get approached by people wanting advice on business. Recently I was approached by a young man wanting encouragement on how to succeed in him services business. The following is the email I sent him.

"When I was in high school, I started and ran a house painting company.

My formula for getting customers and referrals was:

1 - I was always very polite.

2 - Did what I said I would on time. (It is odd how rare this is in business - especially among the trades).

3 - I was cleaner than anyone. Would always cover all plants, remove my shoes when I went in a house etc. Small things count.

4 - I tried to over deliver. EG - If I was painting and a small part of the eve was rotted, I would replace it. I would reglaze a window etc.

5 - I had easel signs that were easy to read and fairly big. I would put these at the houses I was painting and try to leave them for as long as I could (with permission of course) sometimes up to a couple of weeks after the house was done. Nothing sells like a newly painted house.

6 - I would get a reference letter from each client. Soon I had a binder of letters which did most of the selling for me.

Business is simple. Underpromise and over deliver. "

Now back to work to figure out what Overdelivering means to SYNNEX.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Quotations speak

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it"

Source not known

"The greatest pleasure in life is doing those things people say you cannot do"

Walter Bagehot - 1826-1877

Time tip for bloggers - use to find quotes that speak to you or your chosen theme.