Sunday, June 29, 2008

Semantic Web, Google, China and Questions

Right now I am in China. I wanted to shift the dates to accommodate someone but sometimes things just do not work out. So I am here.
It is always invigorating and thought provoking to see China. It helps me realize how small we are and how much more there is to do.

On the flight to Shenzhen from Beijing last night I read "The Search - How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture" by John Battelle.
I found it captivating. Partly this could because of my long time fascination with the Internet and part of it because of my marketing mind. It tells of the cat and mouse game of spammers and how Google tries to outwit them (sometimes hurting innocent marketers at the same time).
I loved the section on the future of search. Ideally we want a search that gives us what we are thinking about - not just what we say we want. This is about filtering, presentation and understanding. It has a whole section on Semantic Web which is another area I am fascinated with.
Highly recommend the book if you like thinking about the future and if you like marketing.
I invested in a Semantic Search firm - Primal Fusion and believe in its future.

Quote for the day:

Judge of a man by his questions, rather than by is answers.


One thing I like about quotes is they can be challenging. Like this one. It assumes we should judge and I suppose we do. But is it right?

Of course I love the premise and always have thought "ask the right questions and you will get the right answers". Questions are important.

Friday, June 27, 2008

In Praise of Speed Reading

I have been flying a lot lately so have read lots. I am way behind in my book reports here.

As a constant learner, I think reading is about the best way to learn. And as an efficiency person, of course I want to read more and more quickly. A friend asked me how to speed read and this is my email reply:

I would suggest you get Evelyn Woods book from the library. Some ideas that increase the amount you can read and absorb without even speeding up are:

1 - know your purpose. What are you trying to learn?

2 - pre-read. That is read the table of contents, the slip cover, leaf through the book. You will find you retain more and know more of what interests you. Also, sometimes you will find the book is virtually summarized for you in the sub titles, insert boxes etc.

3 - don’t read it if it is not good. Some people figure if they get a book - they need to read it. Variant on this - don’t read it all. I only read completely half the books I get.

4 -high focus and concentration

5 - simply pushing forward works. The more you do it, the more easy it becomes.

6 - use your finger (or a business card). 20% of the wasted time in reading is re-reading the same thing

7 - if you speak or mouth the words, you are slowing yourself down. Read in your head.

8 - sometimes only read the first and last paragraph of the chapter, the article etc.

9 - audio books are great.

10 - I do not like book abstracts or summaries but some people do. If I read a good abstract, I like to get the book. A good source of summaries is Getabstract.

Look at studying reading like eating right. I know how to eat right but each article I read inspires me to eat a bit better and I get better and better at it the more I read about it. If you want to learn something study it. How else would you learn it? And you learn different ways -so listen to an audio book on it, read a book, ask an expert, attend a seminar etc.

And the quote for the day:

"Success comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it"

---Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Small is Possible

On a recent flight I read my brother Lyle Estill's new book called, Small is Possible - life in a local economy. He calls this a non-fiction book and I am sure it is but it is unlike the other non-fiction books that I read. I would call it more of a storybook and Lyle is a great story teller.

It is a story about Lyle's life in a small town and the characters in that town.

In the book he did mention me...

"He (that would be me) is an insatiable entrepreneur who insists he be measured not by the vast pile of bad ideas, heaped at the bottom of the wall - but rather by those ideas that stuck. As a risk-taker he has figured out a way to stay in the possible, and not dwell on those ventures that stung him."

At one point he talked about his blogging and how he was finding it difficult to come up with topics and someone suggested that he needs to entertain people. I found his book very entertaining and this is something that I should probably consider more in my blogging.

I love the book and found it easy and quick to read. Lyle is a great writer (and always has been).

I don't agree with everything in the book. I think supporting small just for the sake of supporting small has some flaws. His book lays out many reasons why small can be better value. And if it is better value - then clearly I support it.

Although small is possible, I am going to strive for big. I wonder if Lyle will still like me?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Bucket List

Yesterday on my flight back from Dallas I watched a movie called the Bucket List. The movie refers to things to do before you kick the bucket (an inelegant way of saying, before you die).

The story line is two elderly men with cancer one of whom is wealthy. Both of them make a list of things that they wanted to do before they die. Money was no object so the movie tracks them flying around the globe. Each time they completed an item on their list they crossed it off.

This ties in nicely with my goal setting exercise in my TIME LEADERSHIP book. I have a goal setting exercise where one of the parts to list your lifetime goals. Anything you want to do, be, have,or accomplish in this lifetime.

What I saw in the movie is that they mostly wanted to do things. What I find in my own list is I mostly want to accomplish things.

As I reflect on what my Bucket List would be, a lot of it would be spending time with friends and family.

Read the "60 Minutes to Clear Goals" Article here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Learn Peoples Communication Preference

I was on George Torok's Business in Motion Radio show yesterday. He also gave me a copy of his book - The Secrets of Power Marketing which I am looking forward to reading. I gave him a copy of my Time Leadership book so I suppose we are even.

On thing I like about "beinging known" for something like Time Management is people often send me tips. I thought the following tip was a good one:

"In essence it is to ensure you clearly understand what communication medium each person in your network is most comfortable with (VM, Txt Msg, Email). If you are trying to reach a person on email and frustrated due to lack of response, you may find they rely on text messaging as their main source of communication and switching to text messaging them will get you a rapid response and therefore save time and move things forward much quicker. In the old days the choice was VM and Email. Now Text Messaging has emerged as a new medium the younger set has embraced (some older ones too..). Food for thought."

Simple tip and makes sense.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Saying No - Time Management 101

I am back in California. Very aggressive travel schedule. 5 weekends in a row with travel. I must like it or I would not do it.

Travel gives me time to think. I was thinking about Time Management secrets. The basics. One basic is to say NO. I am good at the theory but not as good at the practise.

One of the tricks in Time Management is saying no and this is one of the greatest difficulties I have had to deal with over the years. I wouldn’t say that I am even good at it today.

One thing that has helped me to say no is learning to know myself well. Learning what gives me energy and what zaps my energy. As a result I tend to only say yes to the things that give me energy.

This said, there can often be too many things that give me energy so I could end up being too busy which in itself can zap my energy.

Canadian are known for their politeness, so I think it is my Canadian politeness that causes me to not say no enough to things.

One quote that helps with saying no by Jack Canfield is, "Its not against you, its for me".

A while ago I had the most beautiful no experience from a friend of mine who had said she was going to attend a seminar of mine on Time Management. The gist of the email was… it is unlike me not to keep my commitment and I am very sorry but I am finding myself with too many other commitments and I would appreciate if you would excuse me from this commitment.

With a turn down like that, how could I do anything but think more of her.

So thinking about how I can politely turn things down.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Value of Original Ideas

I had some good press on my blog this week. I was selected #1 business blog by HR world that all managers should bookmark. (I would just suggest subscribing because it is easier than checking a bookmark - see the box on the side to do that).

And Wally Bock named my post on What Gets Measured gets Done as one of the top 5 best business posts of the week.

This is great because sometimes I think that I do not have any original ideas because I read so much and learn a lot from other people.

Despite this I think there is value in providing simplification and the synthesis of ideas. It also offers value to take ideas from one area and apply them to another.

Quote for the day:

"You are the same today as you will be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet"

by Charlie Tremendous Jones (I guess a name like that says a lot)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pain is Temporary, Glory is Forever

There is a sign in the hotel fitness centre where I am staying that says "stop at the first sign of discomfort". This is a great hotel for losers (and I don't mean weight loss losers).

One of the reasons it is easy to be successful is many people have stayed in that hotel and read that sign and made it their life principle.

No successful person that I know stops at the first sign of discomfort. In society we have high respect for those who persist - those who work through discomfort. We respect those who do the tough things. We respect people who earn degrees, who have black belts, who are great athletes, who are high achievers in their field. The greater the dedication required to achieve the goal, the greater the respect. Or put another way - the greater the discomfort a person can work through, the more respect.

There is a martial arts slogan:

Pain is Temporary - Glory is Forever.

One mantra I repeat often is "Successful People do Tough Things". I will ignore the sign.

Monday, June 09, 2008

What Gets Measured Gets Done

I am in California. The weather is beautiful. Hot but not the humidity we have at home now.

What gets tracked and measured gets done.

One of the reasons that I have been able to stick to a workout routine for the last 15 years is that I track what workouts I do. The simple act of tracking is enough to make me want to keep doing it and keep doing it well.

Yesterday was a great work out day. I ran 5K before I flew out. Then after I arrived, I lifted weights and ran 15K (9.4 miles because I am in the US). Now for some reason I am sore.

This idea is similar to a blog post that Nate Collier wrote on making things into a game. For me I have made it a game to make sure that I get my workouts in. And tracking them is my scorecard.

And if its a game - then it is fun (even though most admin work for me is not top of my fun list)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Perfect Thing

I read a great book by Steven Levy called, The Perfect Thing, How the iPOd Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness. As the title says, the perfect thing is largely about Apple’s iPods and how they were introduced, what happened historically and the cool factor. Of course SYNNEX is a huge seller of Apple iPods so there was interest from that.

I can see that it can apply in other product areas as well.

Early in the music business, whenever anyone tried to set up any ability to sell music other than through the traditional channels, the music companies sued. The music industry seems to have a huge number of lawsuits and it appears that the music company used lawsuits as a way of trying to maintain monopolistic positioning.

Never underestimate the wow-factor of design, wrote Carl Rohde in his 2003 – 2004 Global Cool Hunt Report, even when in quantitative research, respondents hardly ever mention the importance of design as part of their buying decision-making process.

The interesting thing about cool factor is that it could be like the pursuit of money or happiness. If someone tries to pursue money, happiness, or coolness, they often do not achieve their goal, this tends to be a by-product. In the case of coolness, it tends to be the by-product of having great products that inspire users.

There is no doubt that the iPod has changed much of the world.

One of the things that I love about the computer distribution business is that there will always be new things. Early in business, I was concerned that there would not be something to distribute next year because we already sold people the capacity and products that they needed. What I have found over the past 27 years is that there are always new things and always changes and this provides opportunity.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Junior Achievement Banquet

I spoke at a Junior Achievement Awards banquet last night. I always love the enthusiasm of youth. I love that many of them want to start businesses. Their fears in starting a business are that other companies are bigger, more established and have more resources.

My fear as a larger business is exactly the opposite. We have resources and are well established but this means we are not as nimble as we need to be. It means things can cost more than they should. Overheads can be higher. The battle for larger business is to try to act small.

Established companies can also struggle with change. We all fondly remember the good old days. It is good to have memories but success means we need to change. What worked yesterday will likely not work tomorrow.

I am a business optimist. There are always opportunities for all businesses at all times - regardless of the size.

The challenge a larger business has is it takes a much larger opportunity to make an impact. I even suggested that any of the students could easily start a computer distribution company tomorrow. They could sign 10 lines that sell $3-500,000 per year each and have a nice business. It is tough for a company the size of SYNNEX to sign a line that small.

And the quote for the day:

"Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity"
---Frank Leahy

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Top 6 Ways to Learn

I was going to say that although I am not a student, I enjoyed the blog posting at college at home on 57 tips. I think most of them apply to business (although tip 22 - don't skip class perhaps translates to don't skip work?). Perhaps someone should do a top 57 tips for business.

Like I said, I was going to say I was not a student but then I thought, I am a student. I pride myself on being a life long learner. Whenever I have a challenge, I head to the library (OK so I delegate and usually have my capable assistant, Pam, go) and get books on what I am finding challenging.

I even spend time learning how to learn faster. My efficiency tendency. The following at my top 6 ways to learn and my angle on how to do it efficiently

Top 6 Ways to Learn:

1 - Read books - take a speed reading course

2 - Read magazines - the same speed reading course pays off

3 - Listen to audio Books - I always do this while I do something else (like drive)

4 - Attend a seminar - I get the most value if I know what I want to learn when I go

5 - research online - I always use a pen and paper to make notes.

6 - ask a mentor/expert/friend - email can really make this efficient (I wonder if this is why no one is replying to my emails?)

Although I am a big believer in "knowing what you want to learn" - often the best and most impactful learning comes when you are not looking for it. Sometimes this is learning from experience.

"You can finish school, and even make it easy – yet you never finish your education, and it is seldom easy." -Zig Ziglar