Friday, July 25, 2008

Profit Magazine Press for CEO Blog

I have been pleasantly surprised lately at how high my blog is on the search engine. First page on searches like CEO, CEO Leadership, Time Management, and hundreds of others like How do I run 10 miles. I think my page rank is increasing.

I read Profit Magazine on my flight today and noticed Jeff Dennis wrote an article mentioning my blog. Surprising because the article is online and I have a Google Alert set up with my name but I do not recall seeing it.

My quote for the day comes from the Globe and Mail.

"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there, lest we all become like the cat that sits down on the hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again - and that is well;but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."

Mark Twain

I often see business people make this mistake. Be careful what you learn and is it true?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Changing Newsroom - Newspaper Quality Declining

There is an interesting buzz happening about "cuts" hurting the quality of newspapers. according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's study, called "The Changing Newsroom: What is Being Gained and What is Being Lost in America's Daily Newspapers."

I am wondering is they are looking at an old paradigm. They say stories are shorter (as if that is a bad thing). Perhaps newspapers are reasonably responding to what the readers want. One of the reasons I try to keep my blogs to 400-500 words is to keep readers interest. I understand the time limits we all face.

They say "foreign and national news makes it into the papers, it is being relegated to less prominent pages." again as if that is a bad thing. Newspapers are logically figuring out that many other media sources are better and faster for foreign and national news - like Internet and TV.

They say " and eliminated television and stock listings. " Again - this is simple user demand. Users can get this on the Internet faster and more easily and with more rich content.

Responding to changes in customer demands and responding to a changing world is a business imperative. And it does not make it bad.

I am not saying that all change is good. I am just saying it is just good business to respond to changes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On Implementing Ideas and Confidentiality

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."
Howard Aiken

I have long said that ideas are a dime a dozen - its the implementation that counts. People often appraoch me with ideas. They want me to sign confindentiality agreements which I rarely do. Its not the ideas - its the implementation.

My advice for budding entrepreneurs and inventors is the execution is what counts. In some cases, this means "find a partner who can execute well". It is all the details that make a business run well. Of course as I write this, I worry that I give entrepreneurs an opportunity to wait and ponder. Just doing something will often get you ahead of the game.

And many people need a lesson in action. Nike has it right - Just Do It.

I am off to Just Do It now myself.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good Day for a 10 Mile run

Busy day yesterday. Started with running the Nissan 10 Mile Race in downtown Toronto.

The weather was beautiful for a run. Light drizzle. About 18 degrees C (which is a bit warm but still OK). Overcast. Interesting how weather can be good for some activities and not so good for others.

I started the run feeling good. It was a fairly small race so I passed the start line in less than 30 seconds. But there were enough people that it was tough to strike a pace for the first K.

By just after the second K, I started to see 5 K runner who were running an out an back course come back towards us. It motivated me since I felt I was running strong that they had not started coming back at me earlier.

The rain had let up so I was starting to heat up a bit by 5 K. But it still felt good.

By 8K, I started to think - Why did I not just do the 5 K? and started to wonder about the intelligence of running in miles when we are Canada. We should be doing things in Kilometers. Although by 8K I also started to play games. For example, at every K mark, I ran 30 paces (which is about 1 tenth of a K) hard. I do this as it keeps my speed up.

By 11, I could finally say I run 5 K often so this should be easy to finish. And as 12, 13, 14 clicked by, it got easier and I could feel the end.

At 15, I pushed for 60 paces. Eased back but continued to pass people. I was determined to finish strong. But exhaustion (and lack of training) was kicking in so I slowed until I saw the finish. One runner passed me at a very fast pace so I sped up and passed several other runners.

In the end, I finished in 1:23:15 or about 8:20 per mile. Almost fast enough pace to qualify for Boston if I kept it up for another 16 miles.

There are similarities with running and business:

1. Success goes to those who prepare. My finish was commensurate with how much training I had done (clearly not enough).

2. Success goes to those who focus. I do a lot more than running (like weight lifting). This lack of focus hurts my running.

3. Success goes to those who persist.. Just showing up and keeping moving forward leads to success.

4. Success goes to those who are willing endure a bit of pain. (An old martial arts expression comes to mind Pain is temporary, pride is forever)

And then last night I went to the Elora Summer Festival concert by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Friday, July 11, 2008

Do as You Want

"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."

---P.J. O'Rourke

A friend worried I was not getting enough "downtime" and my schedule has been a bit agressive lately. My response was "I love what I do and only do the things I want to do". Seems to be the logical way to lead my life. This does not mean I only do the easy things. I want the consequence of success so am more than willing to do the tough things too.

And I have read way more books than I have "reported" on so:

I recently read, The Road to Organic Growth - How Great Companies Consistently Grow Marketshare From Within by Edward Hess. Companies do it by:

1. They are generally in one business - most can define their business in one sentence.

2. The companies are relentlessly focused and disciplined - they do not take their eye off the ball.

3. They drill down to the line-employee level to ensure that their people understand the business and why their job is important, why certain measurements are being made, and how employees can contribute to their own success.

4. They incrementally improve with continual top-line and bottom-line initiatives by

They involve and engage their staff:

  • The people doing the work need to understand the business and the importance of their individual jobs, as well as how their success will be measured and what is important to the success of the business.
  • Everyone has to buy into a system of accountability and a culture of constant improvement.
  • Only by giving employees "ownership" of their jobs can a company truly have a constant improvement culture that works.
  • People need constant, reliable, and objective feedback in order to learn and improve. So they have a high focus on measuring results.

It was a good book - not great but just good. I did get some ideas and it was an easy, quick read. Certainly was attracted to the title.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

5 Laws of Value

I am still in China. This is a typical multistory Chinese factory. Most are 5-7 storeys. And the elevators are for the product and raw materials - not for the people. Even the guests use the stairs.
I notice a lot more walking here. Even walking inside the subway stops are a long way.
There is not near as much obesity here as in North America. I thought it was just the chopsticks which slowed down the eating but I think the general activity level here helps.
That said - lots of North American chain restaurants are here so I suspect the unhealthy parts of the North American lifestyle will follow.

A friend emailed me the following that I thought was interesting and thought provoking. The 5 Laws of Value:

The Law of Value Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment

The Law of Compensation Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them

The Law of Influence Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first

The Law of Authenticity The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself

The Law of Receptivity The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving

Managing Email Volume - The Great American Timesuck

I am back from China. Thought I would share a couple of photos still though.

First one is of a case of water. I loved the French name (for my Eglish readers - C'est bon means it is good)

The second shows a factory at shift change. Thousands of workers stream through a dozen or so gates equiped with RFID readers that clock the time. Labour laws in China are getting similar to North America complete with increasing minimum wages, overtime pay, workers compensation etc.

A friend emailed me a link to an email management software article. It is aptly called the Great American Time Suck. Managing email is certainly a challenge and I am not sure software is the way to go. My 10 tips for Handling Email Volume:

1 - Deal with it once. If I can deal with an email start to finish in less than a couple of minutes, I just do it. Leaving it to read again then respond just takes more time.

2 - Train people you interact with on the email ettiquette you want. EG - I only want the person who takes the action in the to line - everyone else in the cc list. I also coach on unneccesary email - let people know when I do not need to be included.

3 - I generally leave my highest energy and creative times to NOT do email. The better I know when these are - the more effective I can be.

4 - Get off lists.

5 - I have a great folder system and many of the lists that I am on get automatically filtered to these folders. For example, all the email newsletters and publications go to folders when I can read at my leasure.

6 - Of course I love my Blackberry. It greatly reduces my time required to do email and allows me to use any idle minutes I might happen to have.

7 - Delete, delete, delete. You can always find it if you need it. I also keep slush files. Simply move emails to a July08 folder. Then find them there.

8 - Avoid email clutter in what you send. EG - use descriptive Subjects. Sending email creates more email. Don't cc everyone. No reply to all.

9 - If a message goes back and forth more than 4 or 5 times - just pick up the phone.

10 - Just do it. I find my stress level is lower if my email is clear. I end every day with no messages in my in box. (I might have a few in my to do subfolder).

Today is a photo blog on China. With my comments of course.

This photo shows factory workers at shift change. Does not do the mass of people justice. Thousands of people stream through gates with RFID tags logging their hours. China has people (1.3 Billion). They were fairly low paid (but that is changing. So they often added staff because it is low cost. I think with the new higher wages, there will be more focus on efficiency.

And in many ways China is ahead of Canada on environmental issues. This photo shows the tea cups in a factory. No paper of styrofoam.

This is a typical factory. 5-6 stories high. The elevators are only for product. People walk the stairs (including guests). No wonder the Chinese seem to not have the North American obesity problem. I notice this in the subways also - long walks. And of course chop sticks don't hurt - tough to eat too much.

Factories have shines. It seems the world all practises some religion. It is surprisingly strong here considering how it was outlawed for years. This shrines remind me of Mexico where the factories have Christian shrines.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Managing Growth Businesses

I am still in China. The photograph is a scale model of a factory complex. They use the scale model to do the tour since the facilities are too large to tour. (I thought the same about our new Guelph warehouse but we did a DVD instead).

The one pictured employs 8000 employees include dormitories, police, hospital (more of an infirmary), - even a firetruck. These factories are small self contained villages.

Certainly a fascinating cultural experience.

I recently read, Managing Business Growth: Get a Grip on the Numbers That Count by Angie Mohr. The title certainly attracts ones interest. I love growth and I understand the need to "get a grip on the right numbers". This is one thing SYNNEX has taught me well.

This is a simple short read intended for a start-up business. It has been a long time since I have done my own start-up and most of the examples used are about tremendously small businesses and start ups.

Because the book is so easy to use, I would still recommend it to any start-up entrepreneur.

There was a good section on mission statements that said the following. Mission statements should be:

1 - Measurable. You need to be able to determine if the goals are being met on a regular basis.

2 - Challenging. The goals should be a stretch to reach, but not unrealistic or unattainable.

3 -Focused. You will be using the mission statement to make operational and strategic decision in your business so the goals need to be sharply focused.

4 - Flexible. The goals should allow for individual interpretation within the framework originally envisioned.

5 - Clear. One of the most important facets of the mission statement is its ability to be explained and understood by everyone in the organization. Therefore the goals should be easy to understand and not marred with "business speak."

6 - Appropriate. The goals in the mission statement must work towards achievement of the vision statement. If the mission statement is not in perfect alignment with the vision statement, the overall goals will not be achieved and the business will be dysfunctional.