Sunday, February 25, 2007

Quebec City YPO Event

I am in the lounge in Quebec city. The city is beautiful. Very European. Too cold to run outside (not that I run much outside anyways). I was here for a YPO event.

Part of what makes all YPO events special is the people. I do not like to be elitist but having entry requirements means the other members are running good size businesses. This means they often share similar challenges. They also act as a natural network that can be used for our mutual good. For example, when my Toronto warehouse closes, we will work hard to find positions to those who do not choose to move. The YPO network is perfect. Many of them are Toronto based and need good people like the ones we have. Win-win.

One of the speakers was Jack Daly. Very accomplished and inspirational guy. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak - do it. He challenged me to re-look at my goals and shared with us how he sets his. He is an accountant so does very detailed tracking on how he is doing on his plan. He admits he is overboard.

I prefer to create habits because I do not particularly like accounting and find too much tracking to be onerous. This said, I do track some and I do check in often on how I am doing on my goals.

He talks a lot about treating people right - something I buy into. He shared many ideas on the creative things he does.

Another speaker was Ellen Schwartz, author of "Lessons from Jacob". This is a story of he dealing with her severely disabled son (blind, mentally challenged, wheelchair confined etc.). Hearing her tips for "maintaining sanity" was great. It also made me realize how lucky I am to have 3 healthy children. It also put any problems I might have into perspective.

Off to fly.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Make my Day

Posting frequency is inversely proportional to busyness.

Sometimes I get an email that makes my day. Usually it is a comment from someone who I have inspired or recognition for something that I have done.

As an entrenpreneur, I consider myself to be self-motivated and generally have been of the opinion that I don't need much feedback but the fact that these simple comments make my day is changing my opinion of that.

It is also something that I am going to be more aware of when I deal with other people because I think I also have the opportunity to make other people's days.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bare Naked Ladies and bottle necks

Last night I was at a Bare Naked Ladies concert in Toronto coutesy of HP. (and mom - its not want you think, they are a fully clothed male band). Thoroughly enjoyed it. Part of my charmed life.

Of course today I was in meetings and catching up on things all day. So for everything there is a price.

I had a short article called "7 secrets of an executive Blogger" in Profit magazine that made it online yesterday. And my article "7 rules to get rich slowly" was published on Stuart Crawfords site.

Thoughts on Bottlenecks

In order for SYNNEX to grow, I need to make sure that I am not a bottleneck. This means allowing other people to make decisions. What I am trying to focus on is culture rather than micro-decision making. I have always been a hands on person so I do find this difficult at times.

I am trying hard to let people make decisions and as long as they are within the right culture, then I don’t have to coach them. I need to coach when decisions are made that are not in the right culture. For example, when the parking lines are painted yellow and I would have preferred white. Why does that make any difference - that is not cultural, I should just smile and be happy that I didn’t have to paint the lines myself. If on the other hand, the bill comes in at $20,000 and it should have been $2,000, that becomes cultural and that needs coaching.

The bottleneck is usually at the top of the bottle. Thinking.

Off for a long run.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

On Challenge

I spoke to an MBET class at U of Waterloo today. Always enjoy their energy and questions.

Time Tip for the day.

I have a friend who recently closed down half of his business. Prior to doing that he was concerned that he would not have enough to do, but he said that he made up for it by having by being twice as ineffiecent.

I have often found that if I overchallenge myself and give myself too much to do, I tend to get it done anyways. Perhaps this is the opposite to what he did.

At the same time, much of my greatest value comes from the times when I have a bit of space.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Blog traffic and Customer Service

Blogger forced me to new blogger today. And of course I did not schedule any extra time to deal with "special stuff" like this so I post later than usual. And I have heard of other bloggers having challenges with new blogger so really did not want to switch.

I have noticed that blog traffic continually increases over time and at the same time blog traffic continually decreases over time. Where I notice the difference is when I blog on a topic that people may be searching for. For example, when I mention Stephen Harper, I get a lot of people looking at the blog (no I don’t publish their political comments because I don’t do politics on this blog), or when I mention the “Great Influenza”, I get people who have that in their search alerts.

I am a big advocate of Google Alerts. This allows you to enter any word or phrase and have google send you an email either daily or weekly, or immediately whenever that word is mentioned on the Internet. I am sure that is how a number of people find the blog.

Blog traffic also increases every time I get press in another media or if I do a speaking event etc.

At the same time regular readership tends to drop off over time which is why bloggers need to try to keep the content interesting and edgy.

This can be similar to customers if we are not careful. We go out and do a bunch of promotions that attract a few customers and at the same time, existing customers tend to drop off if they are not looked after.

I read that most customers leave a company simply from a difference, not because the company does anything wrong. Finding new customers costs a lot more than treating the ones you have right in the first place. Appreciation can go a long way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Plug in Hybrids

I took the weekend off to spend with my 3 brothers. Mark, Glen and Lyle (sorry - no hot link to Mark since he does not have a blog despite being the one with the journalism degree). We had an awesome time as we always do. Lots of laughs - something I do not do enough.

Glen loaned me a book called "Plug in Hybrids" by Sherry Boschert. Glen reads tons of books on energy, conservation etc. The book was a great read and made a compelling case for hybrid cars (like my Prius) that plug in to recharge. This would allow them to run for perhaps 100 Km or more without the gas engine kicking in. She makes a compelling environmental case.

What she missed was a good chapter on the economics of using electric power from the grid vs. gas. The information was there but it was hard to get at (running an straight electricity from the grid is about half the cost of gas). For environmentalism to become mainstream, I think it needs to be driven by economics.

Perhaps I am too overboard on the time efficiency but she could also use a chapter on the time savings to just plug in at night instead of filling up at a gas station. I never timed how long it takes to fill up but it seems whenever I need gas, I am running late and there is a line up at the pumps. And for that matter, it is usually the coldest day of the year with a good strong wind.

There is a bit of conspiracy theory throughout on GM killing their famous electric car etc.

Bottom line. After I read the book, I would definitely get a plug in hybrid and hope the automakers come up with one soon.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Barbershop Marketing

I am in the process of opening a new warehouse in Guelph and require 250 plus employees. Many of the positions would be part-time. Of course because of the magnitude of this, it is top of mind so I tell everyone that I meet that I am looking to hire full and part-time shippers, receivers, dock hands, etc.

I was at the barbers getting my hair cut and mentioned this to my barber who instantly said that he likely knew 25 or 30 people who would be interested in the job.

Most people develop a rapport with their barber or hairstylist over a number of years. Most people repeatedly visit the same stylist. During that time they tend to talk about the weather, politics, and life in general. Rapport develops. This often would include their job prospects, etc. This inspired me to come up with barber/hairstylist marketing for hiring my new warehouse employees.

We are going to the yellow pages and listing the barber shops and hairstylists in the area. We then go to our staff and find out where they get their hair done and try to cross off to make sure we have all basis covered.

I believe that the hairstylist or barber will be more open to ideas that come from someone who they already know. Because our warehouse move is not until July 1st (and it is now still February), everyone will have lots of time to get into the barber or hairstylist between now and then.

I also think they will tend to refer people they like. Likely good people. They would not want to be seen as refering people who are not good.

We are not putting in place any financial incentive for the barbers or hairstylists, although we will invite them to an open house. My experience is that most of them tend to freely share information that they have and like to be, "in the know". Most of them want to add value to their clients.

I suspect this idea will work to provide most of the staff we need. That said, if you know any eager, honest, hard working people - send them my way or in the interest of time management -

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Energy Leadership

Rough week. The bitter cold has caused problems for the Toronto warehouse staff. The building is not well enough insulated and the heaters could just not keep up. And some broken heaters (and of course everyone who repaired them were swamped) but got them fixed now. Better now but I hope the cold snap breaks soon.

I just finished reading a great book, "The Power of Full Engagement – Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal" by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.

One of the analogies they use in the book (I do sometimes have problems with analogies because they don’t always apply) is that of athletic training. In building muscles, one exercises intensively and then rests. Their view of succeeding in work is the same that you should work intensively for spurts of time follow by times of renewal (this is sort of like the Stephen Covey’s Seven Law – Sharpen the Saw).

It is too late for me to change the title of the blog from Time Leadership to something else but they are absolutely right to say that most effectiveness has to do with the appropriate use of energy and it is not only about time. I often see people that put in the time but don't get the effective results and part of this can be due to their energy level.

I have been spending a lot of time in the past few months thinking about when my high energy times are and how to maximize the return from those.

One of the other concepts covered in the book is: purpose is a great builder of energy; the clearer you are on your purpose (which relates to your values) the more likely you are to be high energy and highly motivated.

They talk about four different areas of energy:

The most obvious is physical energy then
Emotional energy
Spiritual energy
Mental energy (appropriate focus and realistic optimism)

One thing that I like about the book is that it encourages positive rituals or habits. It even has a work section at the back of the book on how you can develop positive habits. It also has a section on defining purpose with a fairly good exercise on how to do it.

In the back of the book there is a list of the Most Important Physical Energy Management Strategies:

Go to bed early and wake up early (I am pretty good at getting up early; however, I still have yet to master going to bed early)

Go to sleep and wake up consistently at the same times (I could use some work on this one, although I get up fairly consistently during the week, I tend to sleep in on the weekends)

Eat five to six small meals daily

Eat breakfast every day
Eat a balanced, healthy diet
Minimize simple sugars

I do pretty well on the last 3

Drink 48 to 64 ounces of water daily (There is now some controversy about people drinking too much water, so this is one you might want to research)

Take breaks every ninety minutes during work (This is something that I don't yet do, although I often use a strategy of working on something different as a break)

Get some physical activity daily (I am good on doing this)

Do at least two cardiovascular interval workouts and two strength training workouts a week (I am good on this)

So still could use some work.

Great book. Recommend it as a must read for all.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Effective Executive

I feel a bit lately that my blog is just one big book report. I am, however, 15 books behind in reviewing. So here is another one.

One of my favorite authors is Peter F. Drucker. I recently re-read his book, "The Effective Executive – The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done" (this plays perfectly into my theme of time leadership. Leadership is the working on the right things versus Management which is doing things right.) Effectiveness is more important than efficiency.

According to Peter Drucker, effective executives follow the same eight practices:

They asked, "What needs to be done?"
They asked, "What is right for the enterpise?"
They developed action plans.
They took responsibility for decisions.
They took responsibility for communicating.
They were focused on opportunities rather than problems
They ran productive meetings.
They thought and said "we" rather than “I”.

I particularly liked his view on taking responsibility for decisions.

"A decision has not been made until people know:

The name of the person accountble for carrying it out;
The deadline; the names of the people who will be affected by the decision and therefore have to know about, understand, and approve it – or at least not be strongly opposed to it; The names of the people who have to be informed of the decision, even if they are not directly affected by it."

"Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results. By themselves, they only set limits to what can be attained."

I could continue regurgitating and typing most of the book; however, I think it is such an excellent book that you should read it yourself.

Because I have been swamped lately, I resonated with one of his comments which was executives' time tend to belong to everybody else. Of course I blog about time management so part of time management is to figure out how to get control of time even though according to Drucker, the time actually belongs to everyone else.

Today is a Toronto day so best get on the road before the traffic.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Starfish and the Spider

I read a fascinating book this weekend (after hearing the author speak live) called "The Starfish and the Spider - The Unstoppable power of Leaderless organizations" by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom.

The thesis of the book is that organizations that are organized in autonomous cells are unstoppable and require different competitive techniques than those that are centralized with a leader. The analogy he uses is the starfish. If you cut a starfish in half, you get 2 starfish. If you cut it into 5 parts, you get 5 starfish. Unlike a traditional organization (the spider) where you cut off the head and you kill the organization.

Starfish - decentralized, get stronger if broken up, decentralize more when attacked, smaller win (diseconomy of scale), flat is better than heirarchy.

Spiders - centralized, die if the head is cut off, centralize more when attacked.

The books cites many examples of leaderless organizations (or ones that have some characterisitcs of one) including Al Qaida, Napster, Kazaa etc, the Apaches during Spanish times, Craiglist etc.

Good book, interesting read. Challenging thoughts.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

YPO GLC and Prime Minister Harper

I am at a YPO Global Leadership Congree right now. It has been an awesome event. Many top notch inspirational speakers and authors. Scott Cook - founder of Intuit, Rod Beckstom - author of "The Starfish and the Spider: The unstoppable Poer of Leaderless Organizations", Augie Nieto - a 48 year old with the fatal disease ALS (Lou Gehrig Disease), Bobby Sager of the Peace Action Network, Jimmy Pattison etc.

The president of Pakistan , Pervez Musharraf, spoke via satelite.

The Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke live as the keynote speaker. He is a good speaker as one would expect. His environmental message was governements need to think long term.

I am inspired by listening to great people speak and hearing their stories. I tend to identify more with the business leaders than the political ones but I am also inspired by the people who run great charities and try to change the world that way. It makes me realize how much more I have to accomplish.

In addition to that inspiration, I renewed many of my business contacts and made new ones. One challenge I am dealing with is the move of a warehouse from Toronto to Guelph. I committed to my Toronto warehouse staff that chose not to move that I would introduce them to appropriate companies. This was a good place to expand that network.