Friday, January 30, 2009

Just Show Up - Just Be Polite

A freind of mine and I were talking about how easy it is to stand out in business. It does not require genius or even particularly hard work (although work ethic is one of my key values). It is just show up and be polite.

We think some of the simple rules of business ettiquette still work great today:

1 - Return calls and emails promptly.
2 - If you can't return the calls or emails promptly, let people know.
3 - Do what you say you will do.
4 - Be true to your word. An agreement is an agreement. Integrity counts.
5 - be courteous
6 - treat everyone with respect.

It is simple to stand out from the crowd. Show up and be polite.

80% of success is just showing up

Woody Allen

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Less Stuff, Less Committments - More Efficiency

I recently read Julie Morgenstern's book, "When organizing isn't enough, shed your stuff, change your life".

Julie uses an acronym "shed". Shed stands for separate your treasures; heave your trash; embrace yourself, and drive for the future.

The gist of her message is we have too much stuff/junk and that clutter weighs heavily on our mind and stops us from moving forward.

She also speaks about this happening not only with the obvious clutter around the house or the business but with clutter in our schedule in what we do.

The time management tip for today is consider shedding -- separate what you treasure; heave the rest of it, embrace yourself (which means who you truly are and who you want to be), and drive for the future. (I interpret this as having a purpose and set clear goals).

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

--Peter Drucker

And On Mark:

Every time I think I am "over" Mark, something else comes up. Today it was a blog entry by my favourite son, David, on Mark's blog,.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

I recently re-read Peter Drucker's book, "The Effective Executive - The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Thing Done". This is one of my all time favorites. It is a true management/executive classic.

He identifies the five essential practices to business effectiveness that can and must be learned. They include:

- Managing time (OK so you know why I like it)
- Choosing what to contribute to the organization
- Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect
- Setting the right priorities
= Knitting all of them together with effective decision making

The book starts with an introduction on What Makes an Effective Executive and he asks several simple questions including:

- What needs to be done?

- What is right for the enterprise?

- Develop Action Plans (this is one of my key tools)

- Take Responsibilities for Decisions (Although I would extend it to "Take Responsibility")

- Take Responsibility for Communicating (The message must be heard and understood)

- Focus on Opportunities rather than problems

- Run productive meetings

Think "we" instead of "I"

Later on in the book, he add one more important point which is, "Listen first, speak last." This reminds me of Stephen Covey's first habit of highly effective people - seek first to understand. It seems that many great business minds have the same idea.

This is all such common sense. Sometimes common sense is not so common. And it is always good to get back to the basics.

This book is worth re-reading!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Closing Time

I recently read Ron Hubsher's book, Closing Time the Seven Immutable Laws of Sales Negotiation.

Closing Time is a short book (84 pages) with seven simple immutable laws. It is the simplicity of the book and of the laws that I find appealing.

The first immutable law is you must be the buyer’s number one choice. Otherwise all you are doing is giving the buyer fodder to negotiate with their number one choice. He also gives a number of suggestions on how to become number one.

Immutable law number 5 is to expand the pie with a set of non-monetary trade-ups. I call this creative negotiating and I have been practicing this forever. The gist of it is to look for things that the buyer places high value on and that have low cost to you. For example, it might be training or marketing, or mention in your advertising that you can offer to the buyer. It also works in reverse, ask your buyer to give you something that they don’t value much but you do; for example, being a reference account or allowing you to demo the product at their site for other customers.

Immutable law number 7 is to know your walk-away conditions. I have often seen people not walk away from bad business. One of the ways to be successful in business is to do only good business. I know this is easier said than done.

You will need to read the book to get the rest of the immutable laws.

Time Management Quote for the day:

Well arranged time is the surest mark of a well arranged mind.

Sir Isaac Pitman (he's the guy who invented short hand)

Monday, January 19, 2009

More on Mark

Saturday was another service to celebrate my brother Mark's life. This one was in Guelph.

The highlight for me was 13 year old Tara Jamieson singing the song she and her mother wrote:


He'd prepared himself for the news
That death had come to gather you
But found he could not stop the pain
As it flooded back again
No relief, or so it seemed
From the harsh reality
That you are only in his memories

And to those memories he'll hold
To stories a thousand times retold
And though he knows them all by heart
He listens for his favourite part
And wonders will he ever
Lose the pain of losing a brother

He went to bed and finally slept
And though it wasn't morning yet
He woke up crying from the pain
As it flooded back again
Spared only briefly by his dreams
From the harsh reality
That you are only in his memories

And to those memories he'll hold
To stories a thousand times retold
And though he knows them all by heart
He listens for his favourite part
And wonders will he ever
Lose the pain of losing a brother

He heard some news that he thought he'd share And then remembered that you weren't there But in that moment he could see You smiling in his memories

And to those memories he'll hold
To stories a thousand times retold
And though he knows them all by heart
He listens for his favourite part
And hopes that he will never
Lose these memories of his brother

Yes he could tell them all forever
Precious stories of his brother

A part of me worries that I am still obsessing too much about Mark. But a part of me also knows grief cannot be rushed. It is my logical mind fighting with my emotional mind. I tend to want to just get over things.

I listened to a great book "Anti Cancer - a New Way of Life" by David Servan-Scheiber on the weekend on staying cancer free and stopping cancer if it has started. The theory is basically "healthy living" works. Eat lots of vegetables and limit sugar and processed foods. And of course - exercise. The authors' theory (and he is an MD) is we all have cancer cell present but it takes feeding with "bad" stuff to help them grow.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Work on Stuff that Matters

I am back in Guelph after a week in California (SYNNEX board meeting - we released spectacular results - earnings up 31%) and Vegas at the CES show.

I arrived to snow. In Vegas, I was talking on my Blackberry outside in the sun (without a jacket). I enjoy life's contrasts.

Tim O'Reilly had a good post on Working on Stuff that Matters.

Prompted me to think about what matters. And stuff that matters is tied to values. In my Time Leadership Book, I have a list of values that tie to an exercise to help people get clear on their values.

Unique strengths tend to centre around stuff that matters to each of us. Often if something matters, we do more of it so we get better and better at it.

Of course some stuff that matters just is (like family).

For me, a lot of what matters is making a difference. And the way I am best suited to make a difference is through leading a business.

It is not for us to judge what the "Stuff that Matters" is for other people. Cherish the contrasts.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Existential Crisis

I am back on the road. This is good for me because it usually makes me super busy. Having a hard drive failure only adds to the busyness. I would say I hate technology but that might hurt my livelihood. Perhaps I should say "buy more disk drives so you always have a spare".

There is a very moving song posted on Mark's blog today. Written specifically about Mark for me (and my brothers).

I worry about having a existential crisis with Mark's recent death. I think I was closer to Mark than most people are to their brothers (but that could just be my feeling).

I like what Victor Frankl says in his famous book "Man's Search for Meaning" about purpose. Life has meaning if we lead a purpose driven life. And purpose is derived from values.

As I contemplate, I realize that much of my purpose has to do with my strengths. What I am good at tends to tie to my purpose.

When asked recently why we are on the earth, I flippantly replied "to run businesses - what else?". As I ponder more, I realize, for me, this is a good part of my purpose and how I can have the greatest positive impact in this world.