Monday, January 29, 2007

Relevant Press and Overspray

Busy day and busy week this week. I am going to ramp my delegation and development of people I can rely on so I can have more sanity.

I had an article published on ConnectIT today - "10 strategies to get more done". ConnectIT is a great widely read industry publication. Julie W, our star trainer also made the news but the author forgot to mention she worked at SYNNEX and I am not sure the audience is the computer reseller crowd.

There is a theory on marketing and press called overspray. You target an audience but many of the readers might not be appropriate - this is the overspray. Overspray is one thing marketers struggle with. Figuring out how much it is. Figuring out how much to pay for the customers in the target demographic etc.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I am in the lounge in San Francisco (its 5:50 AM here) waiting for my flight back to Toronto. Fruitful trip. Very pumped on the prospects of our SYNNEX TSD division.

Looking forward to the flight. Lots of reading (and resting time).

I find when I miss too many weekends, I fall behind not only on my work at SYNNEX but on my personal stuff. In my SYNNEX role, I have a habit of using the uninterrupted weekend time as maximum productivity time. So miss it when I do not get it. Still polishing my systems so I am more productive when I travel and during the week.

I found a simple site - -that allows you to set a goal or dream and have it emailed to you at a future date. Interesting idea. Means you need to keep your same email address though. And I suppose you could just use the timed feature in outlook to send it to yourself. Still, its a good idea. The simple thought of thinking about what you want to be in the future often sets you on the right path.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Complete Waste of Time and SYNNEX TSD

I am in California at a SYNNEX TSD sales conference. It started well. High energy. Great vendors. It will be a full day of learning for me. We are very strong in the bar code/ADIC market.

I recently re-read a book called, A Complete Waste of Time – Tales and Tips About Getting More Done, by Mark Ellwood.

This book reinforces all of the usual time management messages like, keep a prioritized to do list.

This book is told in storybook mode where there is a ficticious story that is used to illustrate the various examples. I suppose this could make it more interesting for some people. I find that it slows the book down somewhat.

One thing that I liked about the book is it has a number of neat research points; for example: office workers spend an average of 5.1 hours per week on paperwork and low priority administrative activities – pace productivity research.

One thing that I particularly like and have changed my SMART acronomyn in setting goals.

He changes the acronomyn for SMART goals to:

S for specific goals

M for measurable

A for appropriate

R for realistic

T is for time bound

I had "A"" for attainable but that seems fairly redundant to realistic. He has changed that to "appropriate goals" and here is what he has to say about that:

Appropriate Goals

"An appropriate goal is within your area of power of responsibility. Don’t try to work on someone else’s goals. Appropriate goals are also consistent with your organization’s aims, culture or standards. For instance, don’t aim to increase customer satisfaction (a goal) with longer creedit terms (a strategy) when the company is trying to reduce its accounts receivable (another goal).

Appropriate goals also relate to your personal style. What are you capable of accomplishing, given your background, your skills, your training or even your physical makeup? People who are only five feet tall have little chance of making the Olympic basketball team."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Part Time and Summer Students

We have had good response to our press about our new warehouse facility in Guelph. We still need to hire 50 part time people to help in that warehouse starting in June/July. We also still need summer students. So I thought I would put up a shameless plug to get people to submit resumes to

I am in California. On the flght out, I read a couple of books. One was a very short basic review of good personal growth principals called "Monday Morning Leadership - 8 mentoring sessions you can't afford to miss" by David Cottrel. It is written in story lesson form about a manager who is trying to excell. He seeks the mentorship of a successful business person. The book covers these basic lessons. My personal favourite is "live in the learning zone" - always keep learning. It is filled with quotable quotes like "If you want to make better use of your time, you need to be looking for the small increments of time...a minute here, five minute there etc."

So thats my time tip today.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Raptors Game

I was at a Toronto Raptors game last night courtesy of the Bank of Montreal. Although I do not follow basketball, it was a very exciting game.

The Raptors won by 2 points after being behind the whole game. Persistence and teamwork won in the end. They never gave up. Business and life lesson there.

Off to California tonight after meetings all day.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Great Influenza

On a recent flight I read a good book called, "The Great Influenza - The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History" by John M. Barry. This is probably not the best book to read on a plane where people are coughing.

From the slip cover: In the winter of 1918, history's most lethal influenza of viruses was born. Over the next year it flourished killing as many as 100 million people.

It took me almost 100 pages to get into the book because of medical jargon, a large number of characters, technical research, and historical footnotes. After that I could not put it down for the next 350 pages.

The book not only tells the story of this great flu but it tells of the social impact and how isolated people became and how communities were no longer helping each other.

It is particularly interesting in light of one of the books I am listening to on CD called, "Social Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman that talks of the importance of social interaction on health and well being.

In some communities, 60% or 70% of the population was wiped out.

Medical researchers were not well connected and did not collaborate well during the crisis and medicine was way behind where it is today. (Although I do not think it is as far ahead as we would like to think.) In that day, in some cases they still bled people to try to help them get better.

The book made me think of my own mortality (something that I tend to fight, hence the exercise, etc.). It also made me think of the social system that we have.

The book is extremely well researched with 50 pages of footnotes.

Although this is not a business book, it was certainly interesting and I learned a lot. I do think that businesses need to think about what happens in the next pandemic. We all need a plan.

Respect - the Key to Delegation

I made the Globe again yesterday in the Power Points section. I flew to Calgary Sunday, back late last night. The following is an article from my eBook that I thought might interest. Although I wrote it, I can still learn from it. Sometimes speed sacrifices other important things.

Respect: The Key to Delegation

Delegation is based on respect. You need to respect the person to whom you delegate. They, in turn, will not want to do the tasks, unless they respect you.

The best way to delegate in in person. Giving someone a task face-to-face is ideal because you can get a sense of the person you are dealing with. You can tell if someone is happy to do a task for you, or if they are actually resentful. Establishing the bounds of your delegating relationship is important.

When you ask someone to do a job in person, it is best to do it two ways: orally, and in writing. This way you both know what has been said and the expectations are clear from the outset. Make sure that you both know the what, when, why, and how of the situation.

One reason to avoid asking people in email or on the phone is that it feels impersonal. You are asking a favour, and it behooves you to be polite and take the other person’s reaction into account. You will be unable to gauge their reaction if you are not in person.

If you must delegate over the phone or via email, however, be sure that you do it politely. Get feedback from the person to whom you are delegating.

Politeness is a must for all areas of delegation, regardless of the medium of communication. Always ask someone to do something, never demand. Often, the input that you receive from someone who you have asked to do the task is very helpful. Remember, you asked them to do the task for a reason: they are able to do it easier, better, or faster than you can. So be aware of their opinion and the suggestions that they have to offer.

Remember, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Try to coach people on their weaknesses, and respect them for their strengths. Ask them to accomplish tasks that accentuate their strengths. This is a question of properly using human resources. Don’t give the task to Bob when Sue will get it done faster, better, and easier.

Sometimes delegation is a long-term investment. If you take the time to train someone properly now, it will save both of you time and hassle in the long-run.

Attitude is everything! Respect makes delegation a useful tool for you, and makes it less of a chore for others.

It is important when delegating to give effective feedback.

One of the most important elements of feedback is saying Thank You. This is not only common courtesy but common sense. If the people that you trust to complete your projects feel underappreciated, they will no longer want to do the task that you assign to them. Even if they do continue to do the work, they will be resentful or apathetic towards it, and as such, will not do a good job. So remembering to say a quick “Thanks!” is not only polite, but also important.

Jim Estill is the CEO of SYNNEX Canada. His time management expertise is available in his ebook, Time Leadership. To read a sample chapter of his ebook, and to check out his highly acclaimed CEO blog, visit

Friday, January 19, 2007

Positive Guilt

I am looking forward to a highly productive day. Started early. Already have done much.

"Guilt is anger directed at ourselves."

Peter McWilliams

I feel guilty for not posting lately.

I have been thinking - might guilt have a positive purpose? Of course in extreme cases, it is conscience which makes us act with integrity. But that's not the type of guilt I am talking about. I am talking about the nagging guilt I get when I do not eat quite right or when I don't post often enough. Not big things - little things.

One downside to being a student of efficiency and time management is I know how I should be spending my time. So when I am not as efficient as I know I should be, I beat myself up (feel guilt).

It is a learned skill to be able to turn off and relax and not feel guilty. Another one I can beat myself up over. I have not yet mastered that skill well.

The positive in guilt is it helps me to strive more towards what I want to do. In a sense, it keeps me on track. The lesson I am trying to learn is to not feel guilt when I am doing the best I can. But until then...

Monday, January 15, 2007

New Guelph Warehouse, Hiring and Summer Jobs

A friend emailed to say I must be busy because I have not posted for a week. True.

While I was in Las Vegas at the CES show, the big news broke that SYNNEX is buying the Imperial Tobacco building on Woodlawn Rd. in Guelph. This building is huge and perfect. It has excellent security already in place (cigarettes are worth as much as computers). At 620,000 square ft on 30 acres, it will serve our needs for many years to come. It is very well maintained (There is still a lot of money in cigarettes)

We are moving our exisiting Guelph staff and returns warehouse as well as our Toronto warehouse into this new space. We will keep a Toronto customer pickup location at our Ronson office which is likely more convenient for most customers anyways.

This made big press in the local Guelph papers and even CKCO.

Our challenge will be to find hundreds of people to work in that warehouse. We need to hire, train, move etc. Some nervousness in making this a smooth transition. We are going to hire 100 summer students to help. We will have many good clean part time positions in the fall as well so students will like the summer jobs because they can continue through the winter. This is going to be a case of short term pain for long term gain. The transition does not add value to our suppliers and customers but when we are done, they will appreciate our expansion capability and low overhead.

This is not all a good news story though. I have over 100 good people in the Toronto warehouse that will not want to move. So I have a to tap my network to find them suitable jobs elsewhere.

Off to brave the nasty weather. Work out then work.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Yesterday was fairly non-productive. I think I was still recovering from the red eye thrusday night. I fly out again tonight to the CES show in Las Vegas. Although the day was non-productive, I did get a lot of busy work done like catching up on email, clearing my desk, paying bills etc. So that should clear it for a high productivity day today.

I finished re-reading a book this morning called "Topgrading - how Leading Companies Win by hiring, Coaching and keeping the Best People" by Bradford Smart. The thesis of the book is great companies always look to upgrade their people and that a top 10%er can way out perform someone less.

One challenge I have with the book is it is never black and white. Most people have some good and some challenge areas. I also suggest that we can never truly grade people due to the complexity. This is the problem with most incentive systems. By nature they are short term and therefore wrong. The only true performance should be measured over a decade or decades. A quarter or a month is a ridiculously short time to try to measure performance on.

I also think it is crazy to think companies can figure out in advance who will truly be their top performers. I do agree that past performace can be an indicator but companies vary tremendously so it has to be a mix of the person with the company and environment.

One area that I need to up my game in is coaching. I can likely get good returns by investing more here. At the same time as I write this, I have concerns that coaching can be arrogant. I have seen many leaders not add value by meddling in other peoples' areas. Just because someone is a leader does not mean they know how someone else should do their job.

My belief is the success of people is largely determined by the company. Great companies set themselves up to maximize talent and build themselves to take advantage of each individuals' unique gifts.

And of course while reading it, I cannot help but think how I can make myself into one of the top 10 percenters. I have now added this to my goal list and will be charting a plan.

Overall it is a good thought provoking book even though I disagree with some of the theories he expounds.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Silver Bullets for Sale

I am at the airport awaiting my flight to San Francisco. This means I missed my work out and will likely miss it tonight since the dinner tonight is likely to get me home after 1 AM my time. Poor me.

Many people know that I am goal focused. I almost feel like the resolution guy. So many people ask me for the secret to making and keeping resolutions. Many of them want the Silver Bullet. They want a pill they can take. They want the results but do not want to take the actions required to achieve what they want.

There is a lot of money in Silver Bullets. Sell the secret diet or diet pill. Sell the fitness tip that only takes a minute per day. Sell the formula for business success. Sell the negotiating tip that will make you millions.

I do not believe in Silver Bullets. It all takes a plan, action, discipline, work, thought, creativity etc. It is more of a fomula.

Interestingly enough, knowing what you want is one of the most important parts of the formula. So even if I cannot sell Silver Bullets to those that seek them, they may have part of the formula to set them on the road to success.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Good Start to the Year and Joe's Goals

I am up nice and early working on my goals. Good start to the year. I will be at the gym at 5 and at my desk by 6:15.

There is a good site called Joe's Goals that allow people to set and track their goals. The following is a summary of the most popular resolutions for the New Year from that site:

* 17% Lose weight
* 13% Be a better person
* 13% Stop smoking
* 8% Spend less money
* 7% Exercise more
* 6% Eat healthier
* 5% Get better job
* 5% Improve health
* 3% Get closer to God
* 3% Use time better
* 3% Increase family time
* 3% Go back to school
* 2% Set goals
* 2% Stop drinking
* 1% Be kinder to others
* 1% Buy a new house

Full details of the study here.

I think it is great that so many people take the time to set goals and resolutions. I think part of achieving them is the simple act of identifying and writing them down. At the same time, I think many people will fail because they do not add action plans to support those goals. For example, if someone wants to lose weight, they are best to not only say this but have the sub goals of exercising X times, eating in a certain way etc.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Resolutions and Blue Ocean Strategy

I spent too many hours today catching up on the backlog that happens when I take time off. Normally, I like to spend most of the day on goals or New Years resolutions. There is still time tonight for that and I am traveling this week which also gives me uninterrupted time.

I recently read, "Blue Ocean Strategy - How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant" by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. The title really tells it all. The book talks about creating uncontested market space on the theory that contested market space is very difficult to make money on. It is now one of my favourite books.

There is no such thing as riskless strategy. Strategy always has to involve both opportunity and risk but the present playing field is dramatically unbalanced in favour of tools and analytical frameworks exceeded in existing businesses. As long as this remains true, existing businesses will continue to dominate companies’ strategic agenda even if it is a business imperative for creating new initiatives and takes on a new urgency.

One thing that I like about the book is that it uses multiple examples of companies who have revolutionized the industry that they are in by creating brand new markets and brand new spaces. For example, they talk about the automobile business moving from the Model T to General Motors, to small fuel efficient Japanese cars to the Chrysler mini-van, etc.

One of the most interesting stories was about the Japanese hair cut that used to cost $40 to $50 and included everything from a shoulder and scalp massage to shampoo, etc., but generally took an hour and subjected the customers to long waits. When a chain of barber shops went into Japan offering no appointments and traditional haircutting like we are accustomed to in North America, the chain thrived in a big way.

This example explains part of what the book proposes. The key is to look at what is really being offered and look at what parts you can dramatically improve. Often you can end up with lower costs while at the same time adding more value to the customer. In the case of the barbershop, they were able to reduce the cost by not having to spend as long on each customer, not serving tea, etc. While at the same time, reducing the customers' waiting time which is an important commodity. The customers were not valuing the extras as much as they were valuing having their hair cut.

Have a great New Year!