Monday, July 31, 2006

Life Long Learning.

The day flew by. Will be a long evening just to get done what I planned today. So I break to blog.

On my recent YPO vacation, one of the speakers was Scott Friedman. Funny guy as his web site would imply. This always makes a speaker more interesting. One quote from him which of course I endorse is:

"If you haven't made a commitment to technology, by default you have made a commitment to retire. The future of your business lies in the ability to use modern technology to connect with customers."

And a quote from Hoffer:

"In times of change, learners will inherit the earth, while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with the world that no longer exists."

I never realized my goal was not to become learned. I knew I wanted to be a life long learner. Before I go to bed each night, I ask myself what I have learned. And if I cannot answer, I learn something. Usually from a book.

So go learn something new.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Success is not a Spectator Sport

I have been home this weekend so feeling caught up and rested. Ran 12K yesterday so I am even feeling virtuous. I have also had lots of reading time. I am sometimes asked if I post reviews on all the books I read on my CEO blog. No. Just if they are interesting. I figure why write a bad review. Maybe the book does not resonate with me but it might to someone else.

I read a book Thursday called, "Success is not a spectator sport How to Take Action and Achieve More" by Charles M. Marcus. I love the title. I am a big believer in taking action. Success only happens with action and involvement.

This book is a tremendously fast read and touches on most topics from the most successful books and speakers that I have read and heard. I would call it a motivational refresher course. The problem with that is it can be somewhat shallow in places; however, because the basic concepts are inherently challenging, it does act as a good review.

One thing that I like about the book is it is chocked full of good quotes like:

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly." Robert Kennedy

"Remember the smallest actions are better than the noblest of intentions."

"Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently." Henry Ford

The book talks about four principles of success: courage; responsibilities; commitment; attitude is everything.

The book has a chapter on setting goals, something we all know we should do. It does have some practical suggestions with goal setting which probably in itself makes the book worth reading.

It also talks about the five key values of successful people: respect; courtesy; humility; and excellence.

Because the book is such a quick read (even if you spend the time to do the exercises), I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to be on a success track.

In response to my "16 Rules to Live by" post Friday, a good friend send me another list:

Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

Never laugh at anyone's dream.

People who don't have dreams don't have much.

Talk slowly but think quickly.

When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"

Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility for all your actions.

When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice. Spend some time alone.

Now - what is your list?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

16 Rules to Live By

One of my friends Phil Holcomb sent me the link to a great article by Bob Parsons. Thanks Phil.

Accomplished entrepreneur, Bob Parsons, published an article called 16 Rules to Live By. One of my time tips is to not re-invent the wheel. Use other peoples' good material. Here are his 16 rules:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not much happens of any significance when we're in our comfort zone. I hear people say, "But I'm concerned about security." My response to that is simple: "Security is for cadavers."

2. Never give up. Almost nothing works the first time it's attempted. Just because what you're doing does not seem to be working, doesn't mean it won't work. It just means that it might not work the way you're doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn't have an opportunity.

3. When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think. There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be. Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of "undefined consequences." My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, "Well, Robert, if it doesn't work, they can't eat you."

5. Focus on what you want to have happen. Remember that old saying, "As you think, so shall you be."

6. Take things a day at a time. No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don't look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.

8. Be quick to decide. Remember what General George S. Patton said: "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate. If you want to uncover problems you don't know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven't examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you're doing. When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

12. Never let anybody push you around. In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you're doing as anyone else, provided that what you're doing is legal.

13. Never expect life to be fair. Life isn't fair. You make your own breaks. You'll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

14. Solve your own problems. You'll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you'll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: "You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others." There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel."

15. Don't take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

16. There's always a reason to smile. Find it. After all, you're really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: "We're not here for a long time; we're here for a good time."

"The above article (or rules for survival) is included with the permission of Bob Parsons ( and is Copyright © 2004-2006 by Bob Parsons. All rights reserved."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Hidden Persuaders

Tonight I played duplicate bridge. As was recently pointed out to me, I need to stay sane and healthy because a lot of people depend on me.

Interesting to see Connect IT talking about 5 ways blogging can help your business. They are writing favourably about a different media. Sort of like radio saying how good TV is. On the other hand, all media work together and have slightly different uses. Blogs do not replace magazines, e-newsletter or e-zines, they augment it.

I read a book recently called The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. It is a marketing book and I like marketing books. I was interviewed today and the interviewer asked me if I was more of a mentor coach leader than a marketer. I did not know those were opposite leadership styles.

This is one of the original classic marketing books. It was copyrighted in 1957 so it is fairly amusing to read when you see the examples used, like the "cancer scare", "Today's modern housewife", and "for people entering the second half of this century"

Much of what he talks about is still true today, although because the book is so dated, it is difficult to pull out all of the lessons. If you want to read it, read it for fun, not for the marketing lessons.

It seems whenever I read an older book, the writer thinks that the times were changing more then than ever before and even with the current books, that seems to be the tone. Even back then Packard talked about information overload and overload of marketing. I think the bottom line is everyone always think the times they are in is uncertain, changing etc.

To this I say "Change is opportunity". Find the opportunity for you in change.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I Have Things Pretty Good.

Busy weekend. Lots of working out. Still in catch up mode from my holidays. I did go to a SYNNEX picnic at Kelso Conservation Area. Well orgainized except for the weather. Still, people enjoyed it.

During my holidays I attended a seminar by W. Mitchell. If you ever get a chance to hear him, do not pass up the opportunity. I also read his book, It's Not What Happens To You, It's What You Do About It. Taking Responsibility for Change.

The book is short and a fast read.

W. Mitchell had a motorcycle accident and suffered burns to 65% of his body which grossly disfigured him including burning off most of his hands and having plastic surgery to reconstruct most of his face. After that and with a $500,000 insurance settlement he started Vermont Castings and became a successful businessman. If that was not enough, he then crashed his plane and became a paraplegic.

Despite this all, he is tremendously positive. He still thinks of all he can do and does not dwell on the things he can no longer do. We does not blame the world. He is a very warm and upbeat individual - someone I would naturally want as a friend. This particularly comes across in person. He looks you straight in the eyes and almost draws you to him.

Not only is he positive, he is making something of his life. He ran for congress. He was the mayor of his town. Etc.

When I think I have obstacles or challenges, I can just think of W. Mitchell and realize I have it good. If he can do what he has done, what can I do?

Very inspirational.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Policies and saying NO

I said my recent holiday provided me with weeks of blog material. Unfortunately, I have not had time to assimilate most of it. I am still inspired but tired from catching up and minor changes in scheduling. When I am inspired, I tend to also be daunted primarily because I see how much more there is to do and there is a part of me that has a huge sense of urgency. I want to do it all now (or sooner).

One inspiring session I attended was by Mary Loverde ( She is entertaining and delivers some good take home value. The session was on life balance. I was not sure I needed to attend but decided to anyways (after all, surely blogging is enough to count as balance).

One concept she presented was Personal Policies. They can provide a polite way to say NO. For example, I have a policy of not accepting speaking engagements for less than 100 people. I have a policy of not sitting on volunteer boards (primarily because this usually jus means asking your friends for money. And I must say despite this policy, I am a big supporter of charity). Policy apparently means wisdom and management. The idea is to expand your Policies to gain more control and to focus on what you like to do.

This is very similar to my "Don't yet do" lists that I blogged about previously. EG - I do not yet golf has saved me days.

She is sending me one of her books. Review to follow soon.

One More Thing

It has been a long day. After the RIM AGM tonight, I stopped by the office to get a bit caught up. So why blog? Mostly guilt. I presented at a recent YPO university on CEO Blogging and spoke on the need to post regularly.

Time passes quickly when I am in the office. Perhaps I am taking my latest time tip too much to heart.

I have updated my Time Management presentation by adding a slide called, "One more thing". I was listening to an Og Mandino program and he talked about how much more you can accomplish by doing one more thing each day.

I have always had as one of my success habits "do the worst thing first thing" and I have even taken this one step further so that I do the worst thing first thing in the morning and then the first thing right after lunch. This has seen me through a lot of tough projects that tend to sit on my desk. I use it to overcome procrastination.

I think by adding this "One more thing" at the end of my work day and before I go to bed that I will be able to get even more done. What I cannot do though is to do this too often or I will not get enough sleep.

Early work out tomorrow.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The 30 second rule and Priorities.

I am back and in the action. I took the last 9 days off (plus the weekends). When I return to work after a break, I realize how hard I work and how much volume I deal with. Need to polish my systems to deal with things better.

The challenge is to understand what my priorities are and to work on them in order.

As I re-enter my work, I think about how I can get on top of things the fastest (and how I could have not let as much stuff pile up while I was away). Although I was email live while I was away, I tended to only deal with the super high priority items and left many others for now.

One trick I always use is a 30 second rule. If I can deal with it in 30 seconds, I deal with it right then. if I am rushed or on holidays, I might cut that to 10 seconds which means many other things get left.

Right now I am doing a second pass on things with a one minute rule. If I can deal with it in one minute, I finish it.

Of course there is a problem with doing more than one pass on anything. It takes more time. One rule of time management is touch everything only once.

Breaks over - back to work.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

YPO University

Sorry for not posting. I am still on holidays. I have planned 9 business days off. I have kept up on my email (a bit slower than usual perhaps though). I have had a few calls but not many.

Last week I was fishing at Langara Lodge. Yes, I caught lots of fish. Over 200 pounds of salmon, halibut and ling cod that we kept. Enough fish for a year. I am a conservationist at heart. I feel bad killing fish but figure until I become vegan, it is no different for me to catch and kill them than to buy it. I do not eat red meat.

I saw 40+ killer whales at a time fishing. Learned some interesting facts about them. There are 3 kinds - ocean (which little is known about), mammal eating and fish eating. They do not intermingle. The fish eating ones eat 98% Chanook salmon which seems odd. One theory is that it is higher in fat than other fish so satisfies that need.

Right now I am at a YPO University in Vancouver. Roughly 200 families of presidents and CEO's of mid to large sized companies. Solid seminars and events from early morning to night. Many many topics I could and will blog about. A very solid roster of great speakers. I am actually one of the speakers on blogging coming up this Sunday. I am a bit worried my seminar might be poorly attended since that is the last day and some people leave early. Also, by the time a full week of siminars is over, some people tend to cut out of them.

One of the seminars was by an MD, Ruth McIlraith from Medisys, talking about health and longevity. The gist of the message is what we all know: good diet and exercise. She took a common sense approach to health. She was a good speaker. Although I am a health guy, even I need inspiration to do what I know I should. After her session, I did eat a bit better and work out a bit harder (even though the schedule is so full, there is almost no time for working out). I tend to judge the quality of the speaker by if I make a positive change. She was a big advocate of diet diversity. Not sure what she thinks of the killer whale diet.

This is not all education. Lots of over the top entertainment.

More on the whole event later.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I am in Vancouver today. Flying to Haida Gweii (used to be the Queen Charlotte islands) today for a few days fishing. Yes, CEOs do take hiolidays. Just short ones and usually with Blackberries and cell phones handy. I understand philisophically the need to take some time off and recharge. Harder in practise.

I read an interesting article in the Globe yesterday about charisma and the CEO. The message was charismatic CEOs perform no better than those without charisma and that the true test was not charisma but results. Awesome - there is still hope for me.

The question they did not answer was does charisma help get results?

One thing I did like about the article was the long term view to took. It spoke about performance over a 5 year+ period. Often popular press looks at things in the short term which in the case of great businesses is limiting.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


I am on holidays. I am in Victoria, British Columbia visiting Elizabeth's 90 year old father and his 90 year old wife. They are in impressive shape for their age. Inspirational. Of course since they do not have internet (yes, some people actually do not have it), I needed to get my fix so am borrowing a friend's computer. Although I am email live on my RIM, some things are just easier with a computer.

Victoria is beautiful. Nothing like the ocean with a mountain backdrop combined with near perfect weather to make things nice. Been on a long run and a few nice walks by the sea.

Just had breakfast with a great business friend. I keep a list of people I want to see when I travel. I have friends in most cities. Part of my networking. I am on holidays so not sure I should be giving tips?