Sunday, April 27, 2008

Energy and Time Management

My quote of the day:

"There is a difference between doing the things you have a right to do and doing the right things"

Who said it?

Speaking of getting the right things done (I know different kind of right)...

I read an interesting article on time management in Harvard Business Review. (Aren't all time management articles interesting).

I will let your read the original article to get the points:

1 - break your responsibilities into categories.

2 - Ask what percentage of time to spend in each category.

3 - Check alignment of this with colleagues and superiors.

Then it give some tips on execution.

I liked the article and it follows the tried and true - know your priorities and spend your time where the priorities are. What I would add though is a section on energy. In many cases, it is not just the time, it is the creativity and energy that makes the true difference in getting the right things done.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thought Viruses and NLP

As the economy tightens, I have given much thought on how to thrive in a downturn.

It occurs to me that companies tend to over react in the short term at the expense of long term health and prosperity. Of course this is easy to say if a company is prosperous, they have the luxury of thinking longer term. But in the end, it is those companies (and people) who think long term that win.

Changing topics completely:

I recently read "Thought Viruses - Powerful Ways to Change Your Thought Patterns and Get What You Want in Life" by Donald Lofland. It is an excellent book but takes a long time to read if you actually do the exercises which are probably worth doing; although I didn't spend the time to do them all.

Donald Lofland is a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner. He also has a PH.D. He talks about how we can change our thought patterns and re-program ourselves to reach the success that we want.

With Spring coming on, I am starting to get hay fever and allergies and there was an interesting chapter on how using NLP, someone can cure allergies. This is definitely something that I am looking to try. If anyone knows a good NLP practitioner, I would be interested in speaking to her or him.

There are a total of 40 exercises in the book on everything from discovering your mission, setting life goals, setting priorities in life, looking at your personal uniqueness and your values, etc., through to looking at specific thought patterns.

This book is worth reading. And read it with an open mind because some of the concepts are a bit "out there" or unbelievable.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Wealth of Nations

I am really enjoying the beautiful weather. The snow is almost all gone except for small patches on the ski hills.

I reread (more like re-scanned) Adam Smith's famous book, The Wealth of Nations. It is a fairly aggressive book based on its size with almost 1,000 pages of fairly fine print of which half of it is dedicated to the supply and demand of corn. But it is surprisingly readable and even interesting. And it is the basic textbook of all economics.

Wealth is defined as production capability or what we might call GDP.

I figure with a changing economy, it never hurts to brush up on the basics. We are in a period of sharp changes in supply and demand. It is important for business leaders to try to understand what impact this will have on them and their companies.

One principle that Adam espouses is the division of labour.

He also talks about principals, those are the people that supply the capital that is put to use by the agents (people who apply the capital). His view is that people should not do both, they should do one or the other. It is an interesting thought.

He is very harsh on protectionism (as am I).

I am not going to recommend reading it because the size is too daunting for many people. I am suggesting thinking of the changes in our economy and how to thrive with them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The World as 100 People

One of my friends, Stuart Crawford thought I should put in a plug for the upcoming SMB Nation conference.

I know I lead a fortunate (although busy) life. Actually, I prefer to think of it as a full life. I read the following in a newsletter recently. Thought it was interesting

The World As 100 People...

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would like this…

60 Asians, 14 Africans, 12 Europeans, 7 Latin Americans, 5 from USA & Canada and 1 from South Pacific
49 would be female and 51 would be male
82 would be non-white, 18 white
67 would be non-Christian, 33 would be Christian
32% of the world’s wealth would be in the hands of only 5 people and all 5 would be US citizens
80 would live in substandard housing, 24 would not have electricity, 33 would not have access to safe water
67 would be unable to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition
One would be near death, 2 would be near birth
Only one would have a college education but 7 would have internet access
When you consider our world from such a perspective, the need for both acceptance and understanding becomes glaringly apparent.

Now off to get caught up.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Setting Perfect Priorities and Impossibility

I love the early morning hours. So many things I like to do. And now with the wonderful weather, it is even nicer. First thing in the morning, it is all about possibilities. Tonight when I go to bed, its about results.

I have been traveling this week so lots of catch up today. And I have neglected stuff around the house so have lost of mail to go through, bills to pay, den to organize etc. I know I will suffer today from "People always tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in a day". But I love the next part "People always tend to underestimate what they can accomplish in a year".

I have recently had to do some major juggling of my schedule. This causes guilt for the things I have to cancel (although I realize this sort of guilt serves no purpose). It is a problem of possibilities. I have just so many things I want to do and so many things I get invited to do.

Life really is about setting priorities. Not only at a big level but at the tiniest of level. I tend to be long term goal oriented so this helps me set some priorities. I am not sure there is a perfect way. Thinking if I figure that out, there would be a good book there. I did research it a bit and found lots of articles including those here, here, and here.

One reason I study time management is so I can do more things. It works well as long as I remember to schedule time for the things that build me up and make me stronger and therefore more productive.

I am grateful that I have so many things I want to do.

Perhaps cloning will advance.

Monday, April 14, 2008


"Above all, challenge yourself. You may well surprise yourself at what strengths you have, what you can accomplish."

Cecile M Springer.

I have long been motivated by challenge. Part of this is conscious. Part is not.

The part that is unconscious is the part I grapple with. It is that part that causes me to take on more than I can easily complete in reasonable time. Or worse, it is the part that causes me to make my own barriers to getting thing done quickly and efficiently.

Good challenge gives me energy. Often enough energy that tasks seem effortless. And productivity soars.

Bad challenge drains energy.

I am spending some time tracking what are good challenges and what are bad. I simply have a column on my time management tracking sheets that I note whether something gives or takes energy. Interesting exercise.

Much of time management is energy management. High energy is what brings above average productivity.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Crucibles of Leadership

It is hard to believe that is is April and it is still snowing.

Recently I read a book called Crucibles of Leadership - how to learn from experience to become a great leader by Robert J. Thomas. I found the title to be interesting and when I did an informal poll, most people did not know what a crucible was. (It is a vessel that is used by chemists. Originally in medieval days it was used by alchemists (people trying to make gold out of base metals.)) People's definitions were from being a bowl to a religious symbol.

One troubling thing about the title is that alchemist were never successful so does this mean that these crucibles of leadership won't work?

The gist of the thesis is that often it takes a transformative occurrence to transform a leader who in turns transforms a company.

According to Warren Bennis in the Forward of the book:

This invaluable book reminds us that talent is only the beginning of greatness, that leading and learning are inextricably linked, and that the crucibles that break some people can give rise to serial leaders and learners as well.

Three qualities, in particular, stood out as common to outstanding leaders, young and old:

Adaptive capacity is the ability to learn - about yourself, about the world around you, about what it takes to adjust to, and to make, change.

Engaging others through shared meaning is teaching and, in turn, listening - being an interactive leader, one who can enlist as well as command, and one who is capable of mobilizing the best in people through shared vision.

Integrity is about knowing what you stand for - possessing a strong moral compass - and having the courage of your convictions; it is a process of self-knowledge that provides a core identity and a spine that remains strong even when circumstances demand that you adapt. Integrity is what keeps the leader from becoming a hollow dissembler of a leaf in the wind.

Often a crucible was not just the experience but people gained insight into how they learned.

I liked the short clip about Sydney Harman (founder of Harman-Kardon) who spoke about how his daily journalling gave him insights into what was on his mind.

Surgeon Atul Gawand underscores the central role of practice: People often assume that you have to have great hands to become a surgeon, but it's not true. It is practice that builds skill. I know I need to practice more on those things I which to excel in.

I liked how positive the book was. Even bad experiences can lead to greatness and learning. I liked the books focus on learning and change. It meshes with my belief that as long as I can learn, adapt, change and grow, I can succeed. It is growth that is one of my primary drivers.

Interesting book.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Social Media

I spoke at the Social Media Conference today (well technically it was yesterday but...). Lots of interesting people and questions. It sure drove home the impact of the new media (like blogging).

The power of the press is less concentrated. It no longer resides only with editors of large circulation publications and TV networks. It lies with individuals. This said, numbers and eyeballs still count. A blog with 100 readers is less powerful than a publication with 1000 readers. Numbers still count.

The Social Media Conference was particularly interesting because SYNNEX just launched a private blog for our Phillipines staff and had a huge positive reaction.

Web 2.0 is great but already seems old (I have been blogging for almost 3 years). And sure enough, people start talking about web 3.0. Maybe I should start blogging about web 4.0 just to stay ahead of the curve.

Kevin Murai's appointment has gotten a lot of press. Not surprising - this is a major coup for SYNNEX. Will really take us to the next level. Not that Bob Huang was not incredible to start a company and grow it to $7 Billion in sales. It will be a double edged sword for Kevin. The company is highly successful which is good. Bob's mark is deep on the culture. Kevin will have to use tact and skill to make his mark (and more important figure out where his mark should be)

This will be a fun new era at SYNNEX.