Friday, December 29, 2006

Holidays and Younger Next Year

I am in North Carolina with my kids visiting my brothers. So am on holidays enjoying time off with my kids and extended family. So not much business focus now except the odd call and of course email.

My brothers and I did have a charette yesterday. We each have different businesses with unique challenges. Mark mostly sells embedded and specialty computers. Lyle is trying to get his Biodiesel plant going. Glen is in wind power. We also had discussions on blogging (both Glen and Lyle are active bloggers).

Lyle is writing another book. His first one - Biodiesel Power is into the second printing so I am getting tips from him.

Mark is a comedian so we always have lots of laughs.

My brothers and I are very close so always have a great time when we get together.

I was given a book at one of my recent seminars, Younger Next Year, a Guide to Living Like Fifty until you are Eighty and Beyond, by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Loch, M.D. Of course, I am not yet 50 so why should I be thinking about when I am 80? The book does make valid points that the earlier you start, the easier it is to take the clock lower.

Most of the book re-enforces what I already know: eat right and exercise. In addition to that, the book talks about the need for purpose, interaction, and contact with other people. As people get older and consider retirement, etc., they often lose their circle of friends and lose their purpose and that is what causes premature aging.

The book is written in an interesting way. The two authors, one in his seventies, talks about his life experiences and how he has been responded to by the younger doctor author who explains his theories of medicine and why things work the way they do.

I have not read anything else that talks the way this book does about why exercise is so good for us. The thesis is that evolution takes ten of thousands of years and so we have not yet had time to evolve. It was only a few hundred years ago when there was famine and exercise was a huge part of daily lives, just to survive. Our bodies have not had time to adapt and as a result, we often go into "famine" mode where our bodies metabolism slows down and we start storing fat. The book points out that technology has allowed us to eat very poorly and certain innate cravings which are healthy when things are scarce like sugars and fats are tremendously unhealthy because we can end up with hugely concentrated sources of them. They are well within our reach and means.

Technology also allows us to exercise and walk less with simply less motion. This goes every where from cars to elevators to electric can openers. I have always been a big advocate of being careful of watching what I include in automation. (You will notice that I conveniently don't bring up anything about the negatives about computer technology, which of course is different.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day 10 Miler

No business wisdom here so skip this if thats what you want.

The past few days have been family time as expected this time of year.

Today I ran the Boxing Day 10 Miler. Weather was close to perfect. It was 3 degrees C (about 38 F) to start and warmed a couple of degrees through the race. There were 900+ runners. I remember running it a number of years ago with only 200 other runners. This made for a crowded start and a crowded race.

To start about .5 K in (Canadian runners have problems with distance - we run in Km and miles depending on what suits us) there is a short but steep hill. No problem. But after that, the next 2 miles are slow downhill. Reminded me a bit of Boston. The problem with that is I know I will have to come back up hill. The first mile I ran too fast at 7:35 so I eased off.

After a few miles, we came to the marina. Beautiful views. Some headwind though.

Then I just ran. After mile 6, there is a huge long, steep hill up the escarpment (another word for big moutain). I was not trying to do a pace, just trying to get up it.

At about mile 7 we hit the trails. A bit wet but not too slippery. A bit too crowded to pass and at that point, I still had energy to do so. By the time we hit the roads again, I was close to spent. I did not even try to pick up the pace at mile 8 and 9. Usually I try to pick up the pace a bit when I pass the mile markers.

Overall, I finished at an 8:31 pace at 1:25:08. Elizabeth did 1:16:03 winning the top female in her age category.

Not a bad way to work off indulgences of the season.

Friday, December 22, 2006

What I Learned

Ben Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog sent a challenge to the blogging world to blog "What I learned in 2006". I learned:

1 - I read books faster than I can post the reviews on my blog (I am way behind in posting my reviews)

2 - Over a long time blog readership increases as long as I continue to get press and mentions. (my blog traffic has doubled+ in 2006)

3 - Life is short (one of my good friends died this year)

4 - More about being a CEO and life in a bigger company.

5 - "successful people do tough things". This is one of my mantras. I did some tough things this year. Short term pain for long term gain.

And mostly I learned that I have a lot more to learn and that I am far from the excellence I strive for.

And I am trying to learn to enjoy the process, not jus the destination.

Have a great holiday!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


"If you want work well done, select a busy man - the other kind has no time."

Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Marketing 101 - Add Value

Mark Gibbs of Computer World Canada wrote a great editorial called "Unsubscribe me now!" in the Dec 8th issue. The gist of the message is he wanted no unwanted newsletters and more importantly, no newsletters speaking of personal things like exercise schedules etc. He brings up a very valid point on the noise on the net and asking for permission before sending marketing messages.

One of the things I like about blogging is it is voluntary for the reader to read. Most of my readers do not subscribe (but it is easy to do by just scrolling down and putting in your email list). Most just visit it on their own while surfing. So it is not intrusive.

The challenge for marketers is to cut through the noise. To not irritate but still get peoples' attention. This is increasingly the question marketers have to answer - how. In a word, the way to do this is to add value. The following are 5 ways to add value in marketing.

1 - People will read your stuff if it makes them money or saves them money.

2 - They will read it if it inspires them to do something they want to do.

3 - People will read if they can learn something.

4 - Be fast. Yes - this blog is a lot about time management but even without that thrust, people lack time. So be fast.

5 - Add humour or as the Americans say add humor. Laughter adds value.

In short, people will read if they can benefit. They listen to WIIFM - Whats in it for me. So think when you market - what is the benefit for the reader?

Now I better go and subscribe Mark to my blog, he might want to know about my workout tomorrow.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Finding Your Why

Busy weekend with the RIM Holiday Party on Friday night. It was huge. It was held in RIM Park.

Saturday night with Elizabeth's Christmas Party. Thanks to Sam for a great and generous party. It was held at the Millcroft Inn.

I was feeling tired and run down this weekend so not as productive as I would have liked. I ran 21.1 K today (the odd distance is because thats half a marathon). It was all I could do to squeeze out those last few miles. It took me 1:53 which is OK for a training run. Although I am not really training for anything except life. That said, I likely will run the Boxing Day 10 miler.

Have a tough day planned for tomorrow. There are downsides to being a CEO. Tough days are one of them. Exercise is one of the ways I choose to deal with stressful times.

To have a coach or not to have a coach is a personal decision. Some people react well to them and some people do not them.

Sometimes having a personal coach can actually detract from productivity especially during times of extreme busyness.

I recently read a short advertorial book by John Di Lemme called, Find Your Way and Fly. The reason I call it an advertorial book is because he is largely trying to sell his audio programs and other courses. Actually a bit too hard of a sell for my liking.

From what I have seen from his material, it is all good and fairly similar to Anthony Robbins material. I believe using some of this thinking in conjunction with some depth and hard work can definitely help one succeed.

One thing that I don’t like about him is he is promoting himself extensively to network marketers and I have never been much of an advocate of those (it is just not for me, I am sure that there are a lot of people that do well in those network marketing areas).

One chapter that I enjoyed was chapter three, The Habit of Giving. He noted that most successful people give generously of their money. For me, I would say that many successful people also give generously of their time (of course this is always a balancing act because giving too much time can cause even the most successful person to fail because they are not spending time on their top priority items).

One thought that he had was, "if every bill was paid and you had enough money in the bank for the rest of your life, what would you be doing?" His idea is to do this as an exercise as this will get at your true purpose in life.

It is interesting that I faced this challenge myself more than a few years ago and have determined that in order to achieve my purpose, I needed to continue to grow a successful business and I have chosen SYNNEX as my vehicle for accomplishing that purpose.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Entrepreneurship Advice

I seem to be getting a lot of blog spam lately. Perhaps I should be flattered. I moderate all comments so they do not get through.

One of my readers sent me the following email (sorry for the late reply - I have been busy):

"First off I just want you to know all I'm asking for is advice, which is the most valuable thing I can get right now.

I have been working in a field of interest for many years now as a hobby. I've always had many very good ideas but I never had the resources to make them happen. I always figured it was because I was too young. Now I'm older, I have a job and I'm plagued with the same problem. I'll have a great idea but it will usually be out of my range because I either do not have the technical ability, the funding or resources to make the idea I vision happen.

My most recent plan evolved from my experience running similar websites, I found there was an un-fulfilled need. I decided to start judging the need for what I was offering so I did my homework and contacted over 130 other similar sites. Within a day I had 20 sites interested in what I had to offer. That's great and all but those 20 sites generate about 6 times the traffic I could handle. So once again I'm in the same position. I do not have the resources I need to properly execute my idea.

My basic question, what is the best route to take when you have a great ideal that is more then you can handle.

A little more about me, I'm 23 years old, I have been running web sites and involved in the industry for around 6 years. I have a good paying job in another industry which makes it even more difficult to make the "jump".

Thank you for your time.

My response:

1 - There is never a right time. Entrepreneurship involves risk. This means yous sometimes need to just jump. This said - I always say "fail often, fail fast, fail cheap" so I always look at the downside.

2 - It is very powerful to be under resourced. It will make you more resourceful and likely allow you to run a leaner more competitive business.

3 - I like to choose opportunities that are the right size for me now. This is a beautiful thing for business - there is always a right size business opportunity for everyone at every size. When you are starting from your basement, you can take a $100,000 opportunity and do well. Bigger companies cannot do this so will leave you alone.

4 - When the opportunity is too big for me, I consider narrowing my scope. Instead of being the biggest seller of bar code equipment, be the bigger in bar code for warehouses etc.

5 - Consider partnering. it is better to have 10% of something that is worth something than 100% of an idea.

6 - Ideas are a dime a dozen. It is the implementation that counts. How often do you see a resturant with a line outside and the one next to it goes bankrupt. All the time. Ideas are easy.

7 - I know a lot of people who almost start businesses. They are not successful. To steal from nike - "Just do it". And do it now. Time is the enemy of ideas and business. Someone else has the same idea. It is the one who perfects it that wins.

Hope that helps.

What would I like to have...

Too many meetings and calls today and I left for a YPO meeting at 4. Then stopped by for a visit with my brother and parents. So by the time I got home at 11 or so, I had managed to accumulate almost 100 emails (and thats only since 4). Trying hard to get that volume down. On the positive though, I am fast at working through them. And I repeat often "its nice to be so popular".

I am practicing a technique I called, what would you like to have done or accomplished.

The way this works is first thing in the morning (and often the night before also) I make a short list of the things that I would like to accomplish by the time the day is through. Simply the action of making this list keeps my mind focused on these important tasks and I tend to find that I get more of those task completed when i do this.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

7 Ways to Develop Momentum and Get Things Done

I was honoured to receive one of the top 25 newsmakers in 2006 by CDN. Now I have to do something newsworthy in 2007.

Time Tip of the Day:

7 Ways to Develop Momentum and Get Things Done

By Jim Estill

One thing that I learned from bicycle racing (actually, I am not much of a bicycle racer but I do triathlons - biking needs work) is the power of momentum. In bicycle racing the way to do better and use less energy is to pedal very, very fast and powerfully to start with, give it 120% and once you are up to speed, you can simply maintain a good even cadence.

I have often used this technique even with my car which tracks my Km per L (of course I don't do major jack rabbit starts but I do get up to speed quickly and then go easy on the accelerator). I find this technique is the best way to maximize mileage. Save energy and get ahead faster.

I use this same technique to getting projects and tasks done. I find if I can simply start the project fast, I can often use the momentum to carry me through to its completion. So the key is to get started fast. Some techniques I use for this are:

1 - Ask someone to help start. Often just having someone else help gets things moving.

2 - Know your high energy times and start projects with a burst during one of those periods.

3 - Avoid distraction. Focus 100% on the task or priority that you are trying to get started on. Turn off email and the phone. Close your door. Get rid of papers on your desk.

4 - Know your outcome. The clearer you know what you want to accomplish, the more likely you are to accomplish it.

5 - Set a time limit. I know I can do almost anything for a short period of time. By setting a time limit like 15 or 20 minutes to work diligently on a project then give myself permission to quit, I often develop momentum.

6 - Be prepared. It is easier to develop and maintain momentum if you have all the tools and information ready.

7 - Finally, just do it. Dig in hard. Push hard. Remember the bicycle. A few hard pushes to start make things much easier to finish with less energy.

Using these techniques for gaining momentum can help you move any project forward faster and more easily.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Great Inventions or Great Marketing

It took me most of the day to get caught up from travels last week. I really need to polish my systems. I have good people, I need to let them do more without my oversight. I likely am adding less value than I want in many cases. Analysing where those areas are.

Is it great inventions or great marketing that makes a company? Tatsuya Nakagawa argues it is marketing that makes the company successful and has a persuasive podcast on the subject.

I agree and I don't. Only superior products can be marketed easily. In many cases, companies spend money trying to market second rate products where often that money would be better spent improving the product or the value proposition. And the better the product or offering, the more likely it is to take less marketing to make the product a success. The best success comes from remarkable products that people voluntarily tell others about. Seth Godin calls this sneezing.

One product that I tell everyone about (that I don't sell or make anything on) is Nike Free runing shoes. Not for the better exercise they suggest or any of those benefits. I love them because they are small and can be easily packed. When I travel, I always go carry on so space is at a premium. Nike Free solves part of that. And of course i am passionate about my Toyota Prius. It costs about the same as any other car in that size class and gets almost double the mileage. They work great, good interior space. And whats more they have serious cool factor. I don't see why more people don't choose them.

I love marketing but need good products or services to be able to market passionately. And what is the point in marketing if it cannot be done with passion?

Leadership vs. Management

I recently had a comment about my first post (thank you Steven) and I thought I would use the ultimate time management tool - re-use. Below is my first post. My thoughts on Leadership vs Mangement remain the same as when I wrote this 18 months ago. Interestingly, I still struggle with building systems that can support my volume. I have added in italics comments from today:

Why did I call this Blog Time Leadership and not Time Management?

Leadership is about doing the right things, Management is about doing things right. Recently I found it was one of my favourite leadership thought leaders - Peter Drucker who first said this.

Leadership is about having the map and going the right direction (goals). Management is about going there efficiently.

Leadership is about effectiveness. Management is about efficiency.

Leadership comes before Management.

In the 1990s I published an audio tape series on Time Management. And I have republished an updated version as a CD and also an eBook. Since then, I have come to realize that being efficent has its limits and that working on the right things yeilds more results than straight efficiency.

Of course because my interest in time management and efficiency, many of my postings will also be efficiency tips.

My new job as CEO of SYNNEX Canada after 25 years of running my own business (EMJ Data) has caused me to reevaluate my entire set of systems. EMJ was a business with about 300 employees with sales about $350,000,000. SYNNEX Canada is roughly double that number of staff and triple the sales.

Because I had done EMJ for so many years, I had developed systems to handle volume. These systems were starting to break down at SYNNEX because the volume increased. I found that much of my time was spent traveling and addressing CYA issues. Everyone at SYNNEX was concerned because there was a new boss (me) and the EMJ people were concerned because SYNNEX had bought EMJ. 2-3 weeks could pass and I could see little meaningful progress. Recognizing this made me realize I needed to work on the right things - rather than just work. One of my greatest strengths is high energy and high work ethic, long hours etc. This can only get me so far if I do not work on the right things.

This blog will be where I share my journey. I will also share a number of my tips and tricks.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I am in Greenville at executive meetings. I always learn things at these meetings.

But too much time out of the office lately to be efficient. I am working on my "efficiency while on the road". I am also feeling tired even though I did get a good 3.5 mile run in this morning.

Quote of the day from one of my favourites:

Management by objectives works if you first think through your objectives. Ninety percent of the time you haven't.-Peter Drucker

(This is the guy who said that "Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things.")

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

ROI in Marketing

I attended a session on ROI (Return on Investment) in marketing at the HP conference. Hopefully the presenter (who was excellent) was not put off too much by some of the views I shared. HP's focus on ROI should play right into SYNNEX's strengths because one of our goals is to be the best return for vendor marketing dollars spent.

This said, ROI on marketing is foggy at best and a myth at worse. Part of this is because I think long term and measurements tend to be short term (my long term view often conflicts with others who have shorter views)

I wrote this controversial article on ROI in Marketing a while ago that explains the pitfalls.

The Fallacy of Return on Investment in Marketing.

Return on investment in marketing cannot be measured accurately.
Do you buy a Coke because it is on the billboard; because you saw the ad on television; because you saw the Coke truck; or because the Coke machine is convenient? Was it the ad this month or last? Or was it the ad you saw when you were 10? Or is it the fond memories you have of drinking Coke? Or the nice logo?
The answer is - you probably don’t know exactly why you buy the Coke at the particular time that you do. It is a combination of all these factors that make up marketing that cause the consumer to take action.

Marketing is the battle for perception. Good marketing can create the perception needed to cause purchasers to buy.

The only type of product that can have an instant return on investment in marketing is something that is truly commoditized. If you are selling water and there is no perception that your water is any different than anyone else’s water, then if you do a marketing campaign or a promotion or a price reduction, you can shift share from a competitor. Most manufacturers should actually be spending their marketing dollars differentiating their product. It is much easier to sell “Clean Glacier” water over "bottled city" water if Clean Glacier can sell the refreshment and health benefits of their brand.

The only companies that should want to commoditize their markets are ones that are truly the lowest cost to produce (not to be confused with lowest price). To sell at the lowest price without the lowest cost is a recipe for failure.

There is a great book called Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, that talks about mavens (product experts) and connectors (natural networkers who spread the word). The thesis in the book is that getting products known by enough mavens and connectors can cause a product to "tip" and become pervasive and successful.

I sit on the board of Research in Motion (RIM). When RIM was first introducing their products, they spent most of their marketing budget on giving samples of their product to people they identified as mavens or connectors. Most stockbrokers qualified. Because the product worked well, they evangelized it and eventually that lead to more adoption and ultimate success.

A single influencer can persuade hundreds of customers to buy over a long period of time.

The purpose of marketing, then, can be to influence the influencers. Design any program with that in mind.

Marketing is also best done with multiple media. It is best to not only send a flyer but to telemarket, email, fax, press release, demonstrate products in trade show, advertise etc. The different messages reinforce each other and different people get different things from different media.

All marketing tends to be more effective if it is repeated often. It has been said that the first time a person sees something about the company, they don’t see it; the second time, they are vaguely aware of it; the third time they look at it; the fourth time, they read it; the fifth time, they absorb; and the sixth time, they buy it. All marketing effects occur over time.

Because of the difficulty in measuring ROI, some companies will just stop marketing. This is great news for those that keep marketing. In time share will shift to those that continue to invest.

I am a time management person. I pride myself in using my time well. I even authored an eBook and audio CD on the topic. People ask me why I Blog and do I get a return on the time I spend blogging. I do know it has given me a higher profile. It has added to the tradition press I get (I have been written about in the Globe and Mail, Forbes Magazine and many computer trade journals like CRN). Can I measure the ROI? No - but no long term company can measure ROI accurately.

Jim Estill is the CEO of SYNNEX Canada

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Time Budget

I am in Niagara Falls at an HP convention. Big change from the weekend. I lead a surreal life. Moving from hiking and canoeing to 5 star hotels.

A friend of mine recently asked me about the concept of a time budget. This would be similar to a money budget where we decide how much time to spend on each task and function and figure out how we should be spending our time.

The more I have thought about this, the more I think that it is an awesome idea and is something that I am going to try.

One concern that I have with calling it a budget is that budgets tend to make people feel restricted and are often daunting for people so I guess as with any budget, it would require self-discipline and control as well as realism. One knock people have against time management is they say they will never be able to have fun or take time off. Totally wrong. Good time management allows one to do more of what they choose to do. (of course in my case that is building a great company)

Might be a good idea to add to my eBook.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Weekend Off

If you are looking for business insights - this is the wrong post. This would come under what Stephen Covey calls Sharpening the Saw. Rest so I can come back stronger.

This post is in honour of one my fellow SYNNEX executives I was speaking to on Thursday who was complaining that the weather in California was cold at 45 degrees farhenheit. It was a bit colder here (but still quite mild at minus 3 degrees Celcius or about 25 degrees farhenheit.)

Friday at 6:30, Elizabeth and I set off up north to the Haliburton Area. We did not get back until 8:30 tonight.

We portaged and canoed into a small shack of a cabin. Then hiked for a few hours. I like hiking in the snow, knowing as long as there is daylight, you can follow your tracks back. Lots of fresh air and exercise. It was beautiful. I loved it.

I let the photos below tell the story.

You can see the cabin across the lake in this one.

Friday, December 01, 2006

More Press

I seem to be receiving quite a bit of press lately. I was fortunate enough to be named one of the Top 20 Bulders and Visionaries for 20 years in Canada by Computer Dealer News.

I had an interview on and one of my articles was featured on's homepage.

Connect IT published one of my articles on the 12 Rules of Time.

One of my articles was printed in a new magazine called the Highland Marketer.

The following is the article that printed in the Highland Marketer.

Time to Sell

One of the challenges in sales is finding enough time. With unlimited time, we can clearly sell more. Given that our time in finite, we need to devise systems to help us sell more.

The following are my seven rules to finding time:

1 - Some of the reasons that people procrastinate on making sales calls and don’t make enough sales calls is because they have "cold feet". A lot of the techniques have to do with how to get over "cold feet". Some of the techniques include:
Make the calls warm by doing marketing, mailings, emails, etc.
Make them warm by getting referrals.

2 - Count failures as wins. I like to always set three goals whenever I make a sales call: one goal is to close the big sale; the second is to close a smaller sale; and the third goal is to introduce myself, leave a card and brochure. That way on every sales call I can achieve a goal. Count how many mini-goals that you achieve because they add up and in time will help keep you motivated.

4 - You will never know enough. Often sales people, especially those who sell technical products (like my business) might spend hours learning about the new technologies and the new products that are available. The fact is that you could study full-time and still not know everything. At some point you have to just jump in; so the rule is to not make any excuses, you have enough knowledge to sell now.

5 - Use mantras. One of my mantras is, "What the heck, go for it anyways." This is what you say to yourself when you are nervous about making a sales call or stopping in on someone unannounced. The answer is, "What the heck, go for it anyways." Another mantra I use is, "Back to work." Use this whenever you find yourself doing something other than spending time on sales.

6 - It is all about statistics. The more sales calls that you make to more quality clients, the more time you spend with them, the higher the quality of time that you spend with them, the more sales you will make. It is all about getting your statistics right and moving more time into selling time.

7 - Delegate and outsource non-selling tasks. Often the best things to delegate are the things that someone else can do considerably easier, faster, or better than we can. If we are in procrastination mode, we often allow some administrative tasks to take an inordinate amount of time.