Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hiking In Halifax

Today is a shallow blog post. So skip this if you want depth.

"There's nothing wrong with being shallow as long as you're insightful about it."
--Dennis Miller

I went on a 3 hour hike at Taylor Head in Nova Scotia today. Beautiful. Some photos:

Loved this next one. Shows the power of nature. The boardwalk was completely torn up and twisted and moved about 10 meters.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Learn More to Save Time

A friend of mine emailed me the following Time Management tip:

"One of the most basic time management enhancers that I think many of your readers could take advantage of is software application training. Software is so feature rich that we miss out on likely 50-75% of the features available to us because what we know serves us well enough. Consider a 20% improvement in your use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook to name a few. Not only will the end products be completed faster but likely improved quality as well."

I attended a 20 minute seminar today at SYNNEX that was put on for our staff called "10 outlook tricks that can save you time". I learned a few things - some of which I have already implemented. And I will save more than the 20 minutes it cost in the next month and every month after that.

I run a busy life and I constantly work to find the right balance between learning and doing.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

(one of the things I always admire about Da Vinci is his proficiency in so many fields. He also inspires me to reach higher)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How to Stick to Things.

My busy life continues. I must like it like this or I would not do it.

My son David wanted to make sure that he kept to his workout schedule. He has a friend who has a desk job and wanted to do the same. So David looked back to his economics notes and decided the best way to do this would be to bet each other $100 a week that they would make their workout goals. $100 is a significant enough amount that he would not want to lose. So far this has been a good way for him to keep him on track.

This is a great trick to help us do what we know we want to do. Add some reward or add some punishment. Even without the money, this will work because knowing someone else will know is often reward or punishment enough.

Quote for the day:

"All men of action are dreamers."

---James G. Huneker

Off to dream and act.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Live in the Present

I never really considered myself much of a music guy but this week has been my live music week. Sunday I saw Marnie Neimi's excellent Bluegrass band, last night I went to a Bob Dylan Concert with YPO and tonight I heard Erinz Fire (another great band)at a Technoplanet event.

Technoplanet hosts excellent, well run computer industry events for resellers (I was a speaker). The event today was for Apple resellers. They had a bowl of apples at the podium I was speaking at and I almost started to eat one while I was speaking thinking this would break any boredom in the room.

I am always energized by speaking with entrepreneurs. The audience were all business people who sell Apple products. They have intense competitive pressure. And some of the resellers were very vocal about it. The purpose of the seminars are to help them with business ideas on how they can thrive in the environment they are in.

Complaining if it makes you feel better might be OK. It has never made me feel better. Complaining if it will make a difference is always a good idea. But there are many things that complaining about will make no difference - EG the price of oil or the currency exchange rate. I try to figure out which things I can influence and which I cannot.

Tim Moore, my COO, calls the things you cannot influence or change "conditions". If something is a "condition" then the exercise is how to constructively react and deal with it.

Some conditions are caused by inevitable change. And the "old days" never come back. So the goal is to figure out how to make the present awesome.

Quote for the day:

"The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself."
--Douglas MacArthur

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Power of Full Engagement

My lack of blog posts lately are an indication of the busy life I continue to lead. Not complaining, I know I lead a charmed life and being busy is my choice.

Last week, I attended a Corporate Athlete program loosely based on the book by Jim Loehr "The Power of Full Engagement" put on by the Human Performance Institute. I did a review on this book on Amazon and my blog on February last year. I called my review - Energy Leadership. One message they preach is it is all about Energy Management - not just Time Management. Clearly there is a lot of truth in that.

The course went into detail on how you can add to your energy. Not only your physical energy (fairly easy - eat right, exercise, move - and they had lots of tricks for that) but also your Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Energy.

It was a good refresher for me. I am inspired to positively refine my habits (they call them rituals).

My time tip for the day is to use Amazon Reviews to help make your reading decisions. Amazon reviews are a very worthwhile source of filtering. I look for reviewers who have more than a couple of reviews (this gets rid of the "fake" reviewers who just try to promote their book). I look for reviewers who have credentials so I might respect what they have to say. And of course, I don't believe everything I read.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Sense of Urgency Wins

One of my long term favourite expressions is "set a pace you can maintain forever but sense of urgency wins". Sense of urgency is very much tied to Time Management. People and companies with a sense of urgency win. Its that simple.

Sense of urgency has been one of my secret tricks over the years. Now, John Kotter has written a very simple, fast, easy to read book on the topic called "A Sense of Urgency" that not only explains why we need a sense of urgency but explains strategy and tactics on how to develop it and make it real.

Kotter especially speaks of the need for urgency in times of change.

He also speaks of the dangers of false urgency - how to identify it and deal with it. All appearances of high activity and action are not neccessarily true or positive urgency.

Some text from the book (greatly summarized):

Crucial first step in his framework: creating a sense of urgency by getting people to actually see and feel the need for change.

1. If a sense of urgency is not high enough, everything else becomes so much more difficult.

2. Success easily produces complacency.

3. The opposite of urgency is not only complacency. It’s also a false or misguided sense of urgency that is as prevalent today as complacency itself and even more insidious.

4. Mistaking what you might call false urgency from real urgency is a huge problem today. People constantly see the frenzied action, assume that it represents true urgency.

5. It most certainly is possible to recognize false urgency and complacency and transform each into a true sense of urgency. There is a strategy.

6. Urgency is becoming increasingly important because change is shifting from episodic to continuous.

Put simply a strong sense of urgency is moving from an essential element in big change programs to an essential asset in general.

The number one problem they have is all about creating a sense of urgency - and that's the first step in a series of actions needed to succeed in a changing world.

False urgency is a condition that is very different from complacency. While complacency embraces the status quo, false urgency can be filled with new activities. While complacency often has a sort of sleepy quality, false urgency is filled with energy. False urgency is built on a platform of anxiety and anger.

Anxiety and anger drive behavior that can be highly energetic - which is why people mistake false for true urgency. But the energy from anger and anxiety can easily create activity, not productivity.

The Strategy

Create action that is exceptionally alert, externally oriented, relentlessly aimed at winning, making some progress each and every day, and constantly purging low value-added activities - all by always focusing on the heart and not just the mind.

The Tactics (you really have to read to book to understand these)

1. Bring the Outside in
2. Behave with Urgency Every Day
3. Find Opportunity in Crises
4. Deal with the NoNos

Speed will only increase. A sense of urgency will only become more essential.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sharpening the Saw

I just returned from two weeks of canoeing and camping where I was completely disconnected (no email, no Internet, no cell phone.) I have not done this for a number of years. The vacation was great and gave me an appreciation of the comforts that I have in normal life. It also helped me realise that I work fairly hard and lead a fast paced life normally.

A canoe trip is a series of challenges like most things in life. There are challenges like the mosquito and black flies (the black flies are usually gone by July but due to the lack of hot weather to kill them off, they were still very prolific), the rain challenge, the cold challenge, the mud challenge, etc. It increases my respect for nature and the power of it.

I particularly enjoy canoe tripping because it is was physically very aggressive. Not the paddling but the portages. A good 3 hour portage in the muck, rocks and tough terrain with a pack and canoe is not unlike a marathon or at least a half marathon.

It also gets you back in touch with the basics. Small aches and pain seem immaterial when there are bigger ones.

I enjoy going to bed and waking up with the sun. I love the wildlife - moose, otters, grey owls, loons, etc. I love the natural beauty of pristine lake, streams, waterfalls and rock outcroppings. I love the fishing (caught and ate lots of bass), the blueberries, the wild raspberries.

Steven Covey's Seventh Habit of Highly Effective People is "Sharpen the Saw". This vacation did this.

As with everything in life, there was a price. I now have to get caught up and feel swamped and behind.