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.


At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great post all the way, Jim, but I really like the closing line. For leaders, I think we could add to that with the words, "revel in them and build on them."

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Jennifer Nuce said...

Hi Jim, I'm always amazed but how this statement "work on stuff that matters" becomes such an important theme for leaders all accross the board whether they be parents, teachers, managers, business owners. Thanks for the insight.

At 10:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your post reminded me of a short story ( long ona blog )I just received from a friend tonight, thought you'de find it to be appropriate if you'de not heard it before.

A Violinist in the Metro

A man sat at a Metro station in Washington, D.C. and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the Metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour. Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing? Children seem to know when to stop and smell the roses.


At 1:01 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I definitely needed to be reminded of that today. I've been working all morning, but all I've accomplished is getting the driveway shovelled. Otherwise I feel like I've been doing busy work: setting up my course webpage, some reading about the job market, making my library list, making my photocopy list...but I need to get to the real stuff. I'm just waiting to get back some comments before I keep working on my dissertation proposal.



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