Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

I am still pondering death (because of Mark). Don't worry - I will move on. Just not quite yet. I was at a community memorial service for Mark in North Carolina on the 28th. It was well attended. Many kind words about what a great, funny, kind and generous person Mark was.

There is another Celebration of Mark's Life in Guelph at 11 AM at the Arboretum at the University on January 17th.

A friend reminded me of Randy Pausch's last lecture which is both a book and a video. Pausch was a young professor dying of pancreatic cancer. His last lecture were his final words of wisdom.

Pausch's message is simple and obvious. The clarity of knowing his time was more limited than most is what made it insightful. We listen to those who are dying. His message: Live for the moment; have goals; work hard; there is nothing wrong with work; think; leave a legacy in the hearts of others.

It is our duty to use the time we have well. I am pondering how best to do this.

Quote of the day (which as an avid bridge player Mark would appreciate):

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."

-Randy Pausch (Oct 23/1960 - July 28/2008)

Friday, December 26, 2008

10 Mile Hamilton Harrier Boxing Day Run

Christmas is done. Friends and family have left. And I still desperately miss Mark.

Today I ran the 10 mile Boxing Day race in Hamilton today. The temperature was perfect at about the freezing mark. Zero is a good temperature except at the start. Waiting to run is cold.

The course was just a bit slippery in places but overall, it was an excellent course.

The race started at 11 which is a bit awkward. To eat a full breakfast or not.

My calves were still sore from a workout I had done with my personal trainer, Taylor Beech. . But within half a mile, they were all stretched and not a problem.

The race was crowded to start like most races. My first mile took almost 9 minutes. I could not get past people (but I do like to start slow). At about the 3 mile mark, the crowd was thinning out so I could run the pace I chose. I was feeling good.

At 5 miles, we were next to the lake. Beautiful but a bit cold when the wind blew. And a bit icy in spots. I was feeling fine but thought perhaps 10 miles was a bit long. I was also thinking "this is Canada - what are we doing runing in miles?" (10K is shorter)

But mile 6, 7 and 8 clicked by. I sped up to try to get a better time. I continually passed people. One at a time. With just 2 miles to go, I repeated "I can do anything for 15 or 16 minutes". So I pushed.

In the end, I finished in 1:21:50 or about 8:11 per mile. I use the Power of 3 goals when I run. One of my goals was to beat 1:20 but one was to beat 1:25 so I accomplished that. One was just to finish.

I use this Power of 3 goals in business as well. In many things I do I set 3 goals. One that I know I can do and a couple that are more of a stretch. Achieving one goal helps prompt more success in other goals.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More beautiful snow here.

Thanks for the outpouring of support over my brother Mark's passing. 156 emails, 26 blog comments and 17 cards. I know, I kept them all.

I continue to be driven by "what would Mark want for me". He would want me to pause and reflect and remember. He would not want me to go into a depression or lose productivity. He would want me to continue to be a business builder. He always wanted what was best for me.

And when I start to think I have it rough, I know that Lyle has it rougher. He has to split his own wood now.

I won the Canadian Blog Award for best professional blog. Thanks to all who voted for me.

Quote for the day:

"When you are going through hell, keep going" Winston Churchill

I wish for everyone a healthy and happy holiday.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What I learned from Mark

The snow is beautiful today.

One of my blog rules is to blog only when I am optimistic and upbeat. I thought I would not blog until I got over Mark. But I also know I need to live.

One thing that will make me a better person and what keeps me going right now is to think "what would Mark what for me" (not what would Mark do).

My nephew Arlo put it well on Marks' blog. When we are born, we are 100% alive but when we die, we live on through the impact we have had on others - through the momories.

Things I learned from Mark - partly by the things I will miss about him:

1 - How to listen. He really knew how to listen. It was not about him. he showed a genuine interest in what I had on.

2 - Humility. Mark was very humble. Always willing to be in the background.

3 - How to just want the best for others without expectation of return. Perhaps this was just for brothers but it is a good feeling to have someone who is just out for you.

4 - How to play. Mark was much more balanced than I am on playing, relaxing and not always achieving.

5 - How to spend. Mark lived a frugal life in some senses (small house, modest car etc) but still was not afraid to spend money.

6 - Generousity. Mark was incredibly generous. He donated to any good cause. He spent money lberally on those he loved.

7 - Family is important. He made a huge effort to keep connected with family.

The best way for me to honour Mark's memory is to learn from him and to be a better person.

Glen and I drove back from North Carolina together. My flight was cancelled. I enjoyed the drive. At one point we stopped at a gas station:

Everything reminds me of Mark and the hole that is left in my life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eulogy to Mark Estill

August 6/1954 to December 16/2008. Today at shortly before 3 o'clock, my dear brother Mark died.

What can I say about losing my dear friend, confidant and protector?

I have memories.

As a child, I remember the games - hockey on the neighbourhood rink, baseball in the school yard, football, snowball fights, tobogganing etc.

Mark was especially close to my youngest brother Lyle. He was old enough to "take care" of Lyle and that lasted right to the end. Glen and I are only a year apart so we hung out together more.

Mark worked with me from the time we were young. Shoveling snow, painting houses then selling computers for many years.

After Mark moved to North Carolina about 15 years ago (he went there to help Lyle with the EMJ America branch), Mark set up a weekly call every Friday with me. He knew me well enough that it needed to be scheduled. We talked for 5 or 15 or 25 minutes about whatever was on our minds. We shared dreams, we confided. Mark was my sounding board and advisor.

He was the glue that held the brothers together. He was always there for family. Fully supportive of all our projects. He invented the "Brothers' Weekend" when Glen, Mark, Lyle and I would go somewhere to spend the weekend together hiking, playing bridge, laughing (Mark had a killer sense of humour). I think we must have gone on 25 or 30 brothers' weekends including canoe tripping, sailing off the coast of North Carolina, renting various cottages and chalets, flying to resorts, hiking the Grand Canyon. As a game on the weekends we would try to name all the weekends we had been on.

Mark was generous. Always spending money on other people.

Our last weekend together was in August at Glen's on the Bruce Peninsula. Mark was sick then but we did not know how serious it was (he thought it was a lingering cold). We knew he was sick because he went to bed at 10 before the bridge started and Mark was usually the most avid bridge player of the 4 of us.

After Mark was diagnosed (which was only a month ago), he said to me, all he wants is his life back. He would not change a thing in the way he lived. He wanted to go to work. We liked his house, his world, his life, his Beth. There is wisdom in that - live the life you want.

On Sunday I had the privilege of sitting alone with him for an hour in ICU. He was lucid and talked (although with some difficulty). Even then he asked me how sales were going, how the marathon went etc. - still focusing not on himself right to the end.

Today he went home. There were no machines but the oxygen tube. Soft music was put on. He knew he was home.

Losing a brother is the toughest thing that has ever happened to me. It was not supposed to happen this soon.

Tonight, hold the ones you love close.

More on Mark on the Mark Estill Blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Personal Update

After most the week in executive meetings in Greenville, I headed to Charlotte. Ran a half marathon Saturday morning. It was cool but not cold (about the freezing mark). Perfect day for a run. My time was 1:48:38 which was OK.

My mind was not on the run though, it was on my brother, Mark.

After the run, I had an ice water bath (it's a runner thing).

Then went to Chapel Hill to visit my brother Mark in intensive care the UNC hospital. He has lung cancer (and has never smoked which makes it seem unfair). On an hours notice, Mark decided to get married.

Brother Lyle does good updates on Mark at http://www.biofuels.coop/mark/. Lyle is a writer and writes poignantly. I cannot bear to write about it like he does.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

10 Ways to Learn Faster - Speed Learning

10 Ways to Learn Faster - Speed Learning

By Jim Estill

I spend a good portion of my time learning and I wish I could learn at a tremendously greater rate because I believe knowledge can be a competitive advantage. Knowledge is power; knowledge allows me to continue to thrive. As a result I have studied how I can learn faster. I blogged about learning faster a while ago.

Some tips are:

1) Repeat: Sometimes some of the things I need to learn are a little bit boring and I found the best way to learn them is through repetition. Space it over a bit of time for even better retention.

2) Use multiple senses: I learn when I listen to an audio program. I learn better when I listen to an audio program and make notes.

3) Take a speed-reading course: I have found that the greatest source of knowledge is through reading so it only makes sense to use the tool of speed-reading. Some people say they don't want to speed-read because they enjoy reading. Trust me, speed-reading does not take out the enjoyment of reading. If anything, it enhances it because you can read more. Others do not want to speed-read because they feel their comprehension will decrease; however, it won't. Trust me your comprehension will actually increase if you speed-read.

Consider speed-reading to be one of the best long-term investments that you can make.

4) Practise learning: I have a belief that we have multiple areas and facets of our mind and we tend to not exercise many parts of it. As a result I tend to do exercises for my mind outside of the area that I normally study. For example, I am not naturally a musical person so if I would try to do something musical, that stretches my mind. For some people, it might be learning a foreign language.

5) Exercise: I have read a lot on how to make a brain better and one of the repeated themes is to be healthy. The simplest of things is to create movement and exercise. This is everything from small passive movements to active engaged exercise. This is something I practise well.

6) Eat right: Eat nutritious food so that it will fuel your brain.

7) Sleep right -- yes, I finally said it. In my earlier time management seminars I often preached that sleep was for wimps. I have now changed my mind and believe that a lack of sleep causes a lack of learning, lack of memory, lack of retention and it just is not healthy. Because I want to be so involved in the world, it often bothers me that I have to sleep and I am afraid that I will miss things. I am not purposing that people over-sleep and I think seven hours is adequate for most people; but I do believe cutting sleep to less than five or six hours on a consistent basis is a bad idea.

8) Change: I find that learning for me tends to max out after I have been absorbed in something for a period of time. The easiest way for me to get around this is to change something else. It doesn't mean that I can't start learning something different but I tend to lose my focus, lose my learning energy after about 20 or 30 minutes. (I might be ADD.)

9) Have a learning plan: Like everything I do in life, having a plan helps me to move forward on things. There is no reason not to have a learning plan. What are the things that you want to learn, what are some tricks that will help you learn them?

10) Copy: One of the easiest ways to learn is to copy what others do and how other people learn. Simply copying how other people do things is often enough to get things done.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

High Altitude Leadership

Busy weekend with taking Directors College Friday and Saturday then rushing to a Christmas Party Saturday night. And then today, trying to get caught up on everything.

I had 2 articles "printed" this week. One in Profit Magazine about how to thrive in turbulent times. And the other one on CopyBlogger on the virtues of keeping things short. I am impressed with the readership copyblogger gets with 13 trackbacks and 62 comments already (and I did not think my topic was that controversial).

I recently read an outstanding book called, "High Altitude Leadership What the World's Most Forbidden Peaks Teach Us About Success" by Chris Warren and Don Schmincke.

The book has two story lines. One is about mountain climbing in the Himilayas interspersed with business lessons that can be learned from these mountain climbing expeditions.

Usually I am a business junky; however, I found the mountain climbing stories to be the page turner.

Mountain climbing has a lot to do with fear so there is a lot of discussion on fear and how you tame it in leadership.

Arrogance can also be death on a mountain climbing expedition and the infection of arrogance in leadership can also be death to leadership.

One of the concepts that I really liked was skilled based luck. This is essentially preparing for what might eventually happens and by being properly prepared (having the skill), it creates luck when things do happen.

I found the book to be a highly compelling and exciting page turner.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Know Thy Time by Peter Drucker

I received an email from a friend that included a section from the classic Peter Drucker book, "The Effective Executive" which has a chapter called, "Know Thy Time".

Time is also a unique resource. Of the other major resources, money is actually quite plentiful. We long ago should have learned that it is the demand for capital, rather than the supply thereof, which sets the limit to economic growth and activity. People -- the third limiting resources -- one can hire, though one can rarely hire enough good people. But one cannot rent, hire, buy, or otherwise obtain more time.

The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will not go up. There is no price for it and no marginal utility curve for it. Moreover, time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday's time is gone forever and will never come back. Time is, therefore always in exceedingly short supply.

Time is totally irreplaceable. Within limits we can substitute one resource for another, copper for aluminum, for instance. We can substitute capital for human labor. We can use more knowledge or more brawn. But there is no substitute for time.

Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.

Man is ill-equipped to manage his time.

And another friend emailed me a great link at Economist's view on the need for reliable information and how that is partly what is causing the current economic uncertainty.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Time to Vote Again

My blog made the first cut on the Canadian Blog awards. Now there is a final selection round. If you have a minute, please click here and vote. The website appears as if you have not voted but you have if you click. I figure if my own blog readers won't vote for me, who will (my mom is one of my blog readers so can't ask her).

And the Channel Choice Awards are also open for voting. Click here to vote for your favourite distributor and other products.

And while I have you clicking, feel free to click here to sponsor me in the Canada's Fittest CEO Contest. I figure if I can't win, I might as well raise lots of $ for a good cause (Sick Kids Hospital).

So now I should give you the value you want from subscribing to this blog. Time Management Tip of the Day:


I work hard and long hours. One way that I am able to keep productive is to switch tasks often.

For example, I do quite a bit of writing; however, I can't write for three hours at a time so I write for twenty minutes and then switch to a completely different task which is work related.

A change is as good as a rest.