Saturday, May 31, 2008

Napoleaon Hill's view on Time

I am deeply saddened by the murder of an ex-neighbour, Alison Fisher Lall. She used to babysit my children when they were young. Certainly shook my kids.

A friend emailed me this piece from 1921 about time that I thought was appropriate to share. Seems time is timeless.

Time by: Napoleon Hill

"Time flies, you say-ah no! Time stays, but we go."

Time is the only priceless treasure in the universe! Time is the friend of all who are true unto themselves and who play the game of life squarely with their fellowmen, but it is the mortal enemy of all who cheat and all who try to GET without GIVING a fair equivalent.

Time heals wounded hearts, rebuilds lost faith and eradicates hatred, envy and jealousy. Time strikes the scales of ignorance from the eyes and reveals to all who will see, the beauty and glory and happiness that are born of wholesome love for humanity.

Time is the mighty hand that rocks the eternal cradle of progress and nurses struggling humanity through that period during which man needs protection against his own ignorance.

Time softens the human heart and separates man from his baser animal instincts. Fortunate is the man who learns, before the age of forty, the cleansing value of time.

Without the aid of Time the Law of Compensation falls flat and becomes practically inoperative. Time is forever changing, tearing down and re-building mankind, therefore no man can be properly judged except he be weighed over a considerable period of time.

Character, good or bad, is the sum total of the handiwork of Time, through the aid of which one's thoughts and acts have been slowly woven into character. Time builds character out of whatever it finds to work with, but never goes outside of one's own thoughts and acts for material.

Time compensates the human race for all its virtues and exacts appropriate penalties for all its mistakes. That which it doesn't pay back to or exact from the individual it hands to or collects from the community.

"If I had the time to learn from you How much for comfort my word would do; And I told you then of my sudden will To kiss your feet when I did you ill - If tears aback of the bravado Could force their way and let you know - Brothers, the souls of us all would chime If we had the time!"

Source: Napoleon Hill's Magazine. September, 1921, Volume I, Number 5, pg. 29.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stopping 100% is easier than stopping 50%

My brother Lyle has just released his new book Small is Possible. He is doing a reading at the Bookshelf in Guelph on Tuesday, June 17th @ 7:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome. I have been to another of his readings and he is a good reader so it should be good.

My brother Glen has also been writing. Articles about the comeback and energy efficiency of rail. This particularly interests me since SYNNEX is a logistics company and we have to seriously look at the impact higher energy costs have on the distribution chain. My limited experience with shipping by rail tells me there needs to be a disruptive shift in tracking and moving trains to make it viable in the fast moving computer industry.

Interesting blog on the future of search at Primal Fusion.

I have noticed an interesting trait in people - especially those who like to overindulge (and I include myself in those people). It is easier to be 100% than 50%. For example, it is easier to be a tee-totaller than cut back drinking.

I do not eat red meat so it is very easy for me to just say no. It is a rule. I occasionally eat chicken but want to only eat it maximum once a week. It is tougher to keep this rule than the eating no red meat rule.

Firm rules can be a great way to change.

I guess it is like habits. If I work out every day when I get up, it is easier than working out some days.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Make My Day

Today was mostly a travel day. Tough to keep on top of my emails and calls. I did manage to squeeze in a 5 mile run though so I guess I must not be too swamped.

I had a nice email from a SYNNEX customer today saying our service was great. Was not even addressed to me - it was to one of the sales reps. Although it was a little thing - it made my day. I wonder what little things you (or I) might be able to do to make someones' day.

And an inspirational quote for the day from Thomas A. Edison:

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves"

I take this as a challenge and intend to live up more to my capability.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Change is Opportunity

This is officially 3 years of blogging for me. I have posted 460 times or once every 2-3 days. Assume I take 20 minutes to write a post (see my how to write an article in 20 minutes article), that's over 150 hours of blogging. Although likely it is double that since I often research a bit and am not as efficient at blogging as I know I can be.

Seems like I have been blogging longer than that. When I started to blog, it was cutting edge. Now it seems everyday. Things certainly change quickly.

IBM did a CEO Survey that cited change as one of the most dramatic factors in today's environment.

"CEOs reported a surprising level of optimism about change as an opportunity to build new competitive advantage. Overall, 83% of surveyed CEOs expect substantial change in the future, an increase of 28% in just two years. "

I have always said "change is opportunity". This is the way most CEOs feel. At the same time, we all feel not as prepared as we think we should be. I think that fear is what causes me to study so hard. And the belief that my competition will no study as hard as I do so I will be able to thrive.

Part of doing well during change is experimentation and speed. Both things that bigger companies tend not to be good at. So my challenge at SYNNEX is to get us to be big but act small.

Our deepest learnings tend to be our experiences but in times of change, often those experiences do not serve us well. The buggy whip manufacturer who sent out more sales people and redesigned a better buggy whip (all things that worked in the past for him) soon found himself out of business. That is why I think constant learning is so important.

In times of change, it is critical for us to constantly challenge our assumptions. It tends to be false assumptions that trip us up.

Off to study more.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Birth of Plenty - A Must Read

I spoke at a University of Waterloo Engineering Alumni event with CBET tonight. Good crowd. Great questions. I often find I am inspired to be even better organized and better in business when I talk. There is truth to the old adage "the best way to learn is to teach".

I read an awesome book on economics called THE BIRTH OF PLENTY - HOW THE PROSPERITY OF THE MODERN WORLD WAS CREATED by William J. Bernstein.

The gist of his message was very positive and gave me great hope. Strong economies and economic trade bring peace. As a business person it is always gratifying to know that you might be doing the world some good. More than just providing jobs but actually helping world peace. Commerce is the start of all peace in the world.

Throughout the book, he talks about four prerequisites for economic growth:

- Secure property rights, not only for physical property, but also for intellectual property and one's own person - civil liberties, safety. This speaks poorly for trade barriers and isolationism. This speaks poorly for countries with high corruption. Milton Freidman said, "You cannot have a free society without private property".

- A systematic procedure for examining and interpreting the world - the scientific method. The book gives many cases where parts of the worlds lose ground due to the banning of technology.

- A widely available and open source of funding for the development and production of new inventions - the modern capital marketplace.

- The ability to rapidly communicate vital information and transport people and goods. SYNNEX is a distribution company so we certainly contribute to this one.

One scary statistic was the earth's population. At the birth of Christ, there were was slightly more than 250 million people by 1600 there were half a billion. In about 1800 there was a billion and by 1960 it was 3 billion and there is currently about 6 billion people. Population is a world problem.

There was an interesting section on natural resources and the wealth from those and how they actually hurt economies (as a Canadian with natural resources, this is somewhat worrisome). The example they used were countries such as Nigeria who have abundant natural resources but lack wealth and have weak economies and countries like Singapore, Holland, Switzerland, and Japan have been economic powerhouses with few natural resources.

The author also pointed out that the lower the wealth of the country, the greater the economic growth. This means over time everything equalizes.

Near the end of the book, it pointed out the problem of wealth concentration. As a CEO, I have been a beneficiary of wealth concentration but have seen how it can be very damaging. Certainly it has been very damaging for the reputation of business people. I worry this will be a challenge we need to address (and I speak against my own self interest here).

This book is a must read. Read it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dr. Chris Bart on Managing People

We are embarking on an anonymous survey of our staff. We do this to get feedback and see if we are improving and what areas need more focus etc. I always get valuable information - especially from the comments. Will be interesting this year in light of all the changes that have happened and the tighter economy.

I read a book yesterday by Dr. Chris Bart called The Tale of two Employees & the person who wanted to lead them. It is written in story format which in this case makes it slightly more interesting. The book is a very short read (took less than an hour).

Since I am taking a course (on how to be a good corporate director) from Dr. Bart, I found it even more interesting since I could "hear" his voice in it. His favourite expression is "this is not rocket science". And if you read the book, you will think it is totally simple.

The story definitely tells how to drive a mission statement through a company (Chris Bart is a Mission Statement Guru). It also provides common sense coaching hints for any manager.

Summarizing the book on why people fail to follow through on acting on their company's Mission Statement:

Don't know WHAT to do.
Don't know WHY they should do it.
Don't know HOW to do it.
Don't know that they should CARE.
Don't GET IT. (these people need to move on)

And of course the book uses simple examples on how to get past these stumbling blocks. This is not rocket science but it works.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day

My mother emailed me this one:

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL .
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
" Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY.
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
"Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
"Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER .
"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
"If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
"Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
"You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way."

19. My mother taught me ESP.
"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me HUMOUR.
"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
"You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!"

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Driving vs Walking

Just back from a day in Fort Lauderdale meeting with customers. Great people. Not exactly a holiday but it was warm and nice there.

Neil Reynolds wrote an interesting Globe and Mail article on driving vs walking. The gist of the study he wrote about was that it is greener to drive your car than walk because the food you need to consume to support yourself on a walk.

The absurd part of the logic is it assumes the person who drives will eat less food. Simply not true. They will likely eat the same so weigh more so it will cost more gas to drive them. Or alternatively they will get on a treadmill and burn more greenhouse gasses.

It did make a good point that the food we eat does cost energy (which is one reason I am mostly vegetarian).

Of course I am not the person who should be blogging about this, it should be my environment brothers Glen and Lyle who do blogs largely about environmental issues.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Power to Simplify

I was in a meeting today where highly complex technical software was discussed. The discussion got mired down as a result of complexity. My sense is it will not sell or be able to be used unless it can be simplified.

A large part of good communication is simplification. Keeping things short, clear and to the point makes communication work well. People understand it better and remember it better.

Like a good book, well organized books that simplify win. There are few new ideas, there are only clarifications and simplifications of old ones.

Part of the goal then is to learn how to simplify Making things easier and simpler is smarter. This is a true art that we all should work towards.