Saturday, April 28, 2007

Handling the Dreaded Task

Productive morning so far. Still not quite on top of things but the weekend is young.

One advantage of being so "out there" about productivity and time management/goal setting etc. is that people send me things on the topic.

A friend emailed me "6 tips for handling the dreaded task" from the Happiness Blog. Thought you might enjoy. And re-using other people's good material is one goot time tip I use.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Re-inspiring Myself

I have not been feeling wise or even that productive lately so hence the lack of blog entries. Yes, I have excuses like travel and being busy. But I pride myself in being a no excuses persons so do not accept that.

So this weekend, I will dig into my arsenal of tricks to get more productive. The simplest thing I need to do is spend some time cleaning up clutter in my work area. And it is a good start to be up early today. I have already got a ton of stuff done.

I have been running a bit more than usual. The weather has been great (even though I often run on a treadmill so that should not matter much). I am planning on running the Ottawa Marathon at the end of May so need to get my mileage up. I am not sure it is smart to try to prove how to run a marathon on little training. I always want to be in good enough shape to run a half marathon without additional training but to run a full marathon, I need to add a long run to that. Last weekend, I ran 18 miles which is the longest I have run for a while. I do find the long runs tire me a bit.

I have not even read much lately. I did read an interesting but perhaps not as scientific book as it purports to be called "The China Study". It is a book on health that studies longevity and disease. It talks a lot about negative things like cancer. The gist of the message is be vegetarian - or more specifically - be vegan (no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products). I do not eat red meat but have not taken the leap to full vegan although I do eat vegan a few times per week or more.

I am looking forward to the weekend. Gives me time to get on top of things.

Off to run (but not for long - my first meeting means I need to leave shortly after 7).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Talk to Myself

Life has been a whirlwind. The warehouse move to Guelph and the Redmond acquisition on top of the usual stuff has been challenging.

I really cannot complain though. I like my life full and if it is not full, I tend to fill it (or overfill it). I have done this for as long as I can remember.

The weather is beautiful. Had a long run yesterday (18 miles).

One productivity tip I use is what I call Mantras or talking to myself. These are phrases I repeat to myself to keep on track. One of my favourites that I use when I am not as focused as I want to be is "Back to work". Simply repeating this phrase keeps me on track.

Other Mantras I use are "Successful People do Tough Things". I use this one to get through the difficult things. "What to Heck go for it Anyways". I use then when I am having cold feet. And "I am very Healthy, I Heal very Quickly". I need my health for productivity so that one makes sense. I also use "Garbage in, garbage out" when I find myself tempted with bad food and bad media. This one is not as positive as it should be though so I am going to change it to "I Honour my Mind and Body" (and when I am in the states "I honor my mind and body")

I have a ton of backlog I need to get through and I have a flight to catch so "Back to Work".

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cut Out the Middle Man and Pay More.

I read an interesting book on distribution called, Working At Cross-Purposes How Distributors and Manufacturers Can Manage Conflict Successfully.

One thing that I don’t like about the title of the book is it makes the assumption that there is going to be conflict. In many cases I find manufacturer/distributor relationships are quite symbiotic - both parties win. This does not mean there is no conflict.

Since SYNNEX is a distributor, clearly, I believe in distribution. The biggest reason for conflict (and something that is misunderstood by much of the buying public) is when different manufacturers do not see the value in distribution despite the fact from my view it is glaring obviously.

Many times when I tell someone that I am in computer distribution and sell over one billion dollars a year (and they have never heard of SYNNEX), they often say things like we need to cut out the middle man. Unfortunately, I don’t think most of these same people would be willing to pay the higher prices they would have to pay if the middle man was cut out.

The basics of distribution is the sharing of overheads; for example, SYNNEX can take a booth at a trade show and exhibit Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Microsoft, Acer, Toshiba, and Symantec products at a fraction of the cost of any one of those manufacturers having their own booth. We can also make a sales call in Winnipeg and present multiple product lines during the same call for a much lower price. These savings flow back through all of the areas from marketing, training, selling, service (no finger pointing on whose problem it is) and even logistics and shipping. For example, we ship to most Staples stores every single day and it costs almost nothing more to add a few more pieces to the shipment.

Distributors also provides credit.

Because distributors are highly focused on their logistics, they tend to be faster and better. They tend to have better computerization (This is one of SYNNEX's strengths). I always say that distributors are cruelly efficient; for example, our delivery standards are such that orders can be placed up to 6:00 at night and the customer still receives the shipment the next morning and in many cases orders can be placed as late as 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. the day before and the product is still received.

Because distributors are such low margin, there is a hugely high focus on cost. Any manufacturers who do a cost analysis of how much distributor does cost will generally find tremendous savings. So in the end, distribution is more about economics than anything else. Distributors just help save people money.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ambition in Advance

I did not feel I was very productive this weekend. Although I did get through all my emails so start with a clean slate. I was a bit tired. Perhaps from travel to Chicago on Friday (travel tends to make me tired for some reason). Or perhaps from the 17.8 mile run on Saturday (thats a long distance for me). Many of the things I did this weekend I just did not do efficiently. Some because they were tasks that I am not good at.

So the technique I am using to get me productive again is good old fashioned planning. I call it ambition in advance. If I set the stage properly, I become productive.

I find if I plan ahead, I tend to get things done. So last night I planned to get up early. I set out my work out clothes which makes sure I will be at the gym first thing. I have my top 5 list - the top 5 things I want to accomplish today.

I love early mornings. It is so quiet. Also makes for the good start on a day. I feel ahead already.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Carrot Principle

I read an interesting book on the weekend called, The Carrot Principle - How the Best Mangers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. Clearly this is a title that would attract anyone who is trying to lead a company.

The gist of the message is covered in the title which is appropriate rewards motivate people. One thing that I like about the book is it talks about goal setting, communication trust and accountability, and the use of carrots as an accelerator to make all of this work faster and easier.

The book has a multitude of statistics and studies which of course adds to the credibility.

One thing that I have found over the years is formalized carrot programs become stilted and can even become entitlement instead of being earned. Similar to performance metrics – sometimes they focus on the wrong thing and are given to people for performing only one part of the job when inherently the job is more complex than just one dimension.

This said, the book definitely reminded me that I need to work harder at recognizing performance.

I have a simple compensation philosophy (and I know the carrot is not all about compensation) and that is "if the company does well, the people should do well", or in other words, the company should pay what they can afford to pay which allows staff to participate in success.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Decline of the Blog and Blooks

I read in the Globe about the "Decline of the Blog". It said "an estimated 200,000,000 blogs have been started and then abandoned...with perhaps 100,000,000 people still blogging worldwide." " Everyone thinks they have something to say until they're put on stage and asked to say it".

I certainly know many people who have started and abandoned blogs - often in the first few weeks. And sometimes I have not felt like blogging.

In the same paper, the very next piece was on new words in our language like Blook - books created from blogs. My brother, Lyle, did one of these called "Biodiesel Power: The Passion, the People, and the Politics of the Next Renewable Fuel". So one part says blogs are dead and another says new words are being created to deal with all the blogging phenomenons which have become common day.

This past week was challenging even though I had limited travel (I was in Montreal for a day but thats it). I have many projects on like Redmond, moving into our new warehouse and quotes to do.

I fell for one of the traps I often preach about. I was answering "why" rather than "how" or worse - answering "why it cannot be done" as opposed to "how can it be done". The How question is one of the most powerful ones we have. Bob reminded me of this.

Off to work out and work. I love long weekends. I can get totally on top of things and feel caught up.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tricks to Stay Motivated and The Long Tail

Sometimes my self discipline slips. I use tricks to get myself back on track and to stay on track.

One trick is to ask my self "Would I like to have..." and then I list something like "a clean email in box by the time I go to bed". The simple act of asking the question tends to keep me on track.

For example, I like to have a clean work area. I am not a neat freak but I like to have clean, clear spaces. One question I ask is "would I like to have a clean space when I get up tomorrow." Of course the answer is yes so it motivates me to stay on track.

Of course when I lack the ambition to do my "Would I like to have...", I end up with guilt. Still working on guilt. Would I like to have a clear conscience?

I read a great book (actually I listened to it on the seven CD set) that is a must read for any business person called, "The Long Tail, Why the future of business is selling less of more" by Chris Anderson. Chris Anderson is the editor of FAST Company magazine.

The thesis of his book is that we are increasingly able to cater almost everybody with every taste with a huge degree of variety and this huge degree of variety allows products to have what he calls long tails. For example, rather than everybody simply listening to popular music, they can listen to many sub-genres.

Much of what he talks about is possible because of the Internet so a lot of his examples have to do with books and music and movies, etc., on the internet.

The reason it is a must read for any business person is understanding markets and where things will sell are definitely a critical part of business success.

Lead Well and Prosper

Busy weekend. Friday night I played duplicate bridge (lost badly). Saturday morning I had a bicycle fitting. It took over 2 hours. I had never done this. interesting process. Of course it rained for the rest of the weekend so I did not get out to try it with all the adjustments. Then a house party at friends who live 5 miles away so long walk too. Sunday I did run 8 miles. Other than that, there was the usual email volume, quotations and because it was month end, lots of month end reporting to do. I also have to rework all the budgets because of the Redmond acquisition. The weekend could have been longer. I needed the time.

I read a book called, Lead Well and Prosper, 15 Successful Strategies to Becoming a Good Manager by Nick McCormick. This is one of those simple, short, easy to read books. It is less than 100 pages and would take a slow reader not more than an hour to read. Of course at this length it lacks depth.

It has many obvious lessons and gets backs to the basics covering things like adopt a serving attitude; set goals -- plan and execute; learn to the right thing, etc. The lessons are obvious, although it never hurts to reinforce them. Common sense is not too common which is why it is a good book.

This book is also such a simple read that it is the type of book that many companies would get for all of their middle management people. The lessons would be easy to build a leadership training program on.

I have become discouraged over time that most people do not read so you have to give them very short and easy to digest like this to get them to read. On the other hand, I am feeling behind on my reading. I have just been way swamped.