Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goal Setting and New Year's Resolutions

I love New Year's, because I love setting New Year's Resolutions. I credit much of my success in life to setting goals and New Year's Resolutions are really not much more than setting goals.

For me, they fall into two categories.

1. Some resolutions would be habits that I want to develop (or stop). I'm a big believer that much of success has to do with us being the habits of what we repeatedly do.

2. Some of my resolutions are actual goals or things that I want to accomplish.

I have long practiced goal setting using my goal setting exercise 60 Minutes to Clear Goals.

This year will be no different - I will set goals. I will review how I did compared to what I thought last year. I will try to learn and refine my systems.

Have a great New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Relentless Change

In my post on Article Marketing yesterday, I was remiss to not mention my friends' Chris Knights ezinearticle site. This is one of the best organized and legitimate article sites on the internet. And Chris is one of the best networkers that I know. He puts me to shame.

I find that most of the books I read are about Leadership and Business, although occasionally I do just read a book for recreation.

One of my friends Joe Martin wrote a book called Relentless Change – A Casebook for the Study of Canadian Business History. Read sort of for just recreation but it is also business focused.

I know Joe fairly well, since he sat on the board of Angoss Software for about 10 years.

Relentless Change, is a study of Canadian business history.

Joe is a Historian / Academic / Ph.D / Professor, so the study is absolutely a great work of research. This certainly is not as shallow as many of the other business books I read.

Being Canadian, I find it fascinating all the references to the companies I have heard about and know of.

The book starts in 1850 and lays out the Bank Act, which he calls 'The Origin of Our Financial Stability'. It also talks about Hudson's Bay Company and the first great Canadian manufacturing enterprise, Massey-Harris.

Then it moves on to 1905-1955, talking about the CNR and the rise of the automobile industry as well as Eatons. I took particular interest in the Eaton's story since in the 80s Eaton's was in the computer business and was a customer of ours. Eaton's treated suppliers so poorly at time that my brother Glen refused to buy anything from them. Of course, he thinks the reason Eatons eventually went bankrupt was because of their arrogance, which I believe is the major challenge that large companies face.

Part 3 was the period 1955-1980 with discussions of Inco and oil. Then part 4 is called the challenging years from 1980-2005 talking about the Free Trade Agreement, the collapse of Fed Life and discussion about RBC.

Although the book is a series of case studies as would be used in a University M.B.A. class, each one of these stories are stand-alone. Joe is not the author of all the cases although in many cases he is the co-author.

I think it's a fascinating book for anybody interested in Canadian business history.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Article Marketing and Free Content

I am often asked how to inexpensively promote a product or service. One of my favorite ways is article marketing.

There are tons of free article sites that accept articles from anyone. These are "Free content" so anyone can use what is written in their blog or newspaper. Because they are also free, they can be an easy source for blog inspiration if I cannot think of anything to say. I almost never use them as is but I edit them and use parts occasionally. Or mostly they just inspire my ideas.

They are not even bad to surf if you are looking for information on a topic.

One of the Free content sites I use is A1 Articles. The site is well organized, easy to use and although it has lots of ads, they tend to be inobstrusive. They have over 10,000 articles on a wide variety of topics.

Some of my "free articles" are:

The 8 Rules of Time,
6 Reasons to Wake Up Early and Secrets to Help it Happen, (cannot really write this and sleep in)
12 Tips on Developing Self Discipline, (reminding myself how to do it)
How to Write and Article in 20 Minutes,
13 Easy Tricks to Stay Motivated to Work out, (written because I needed help myself)
How a Small Business Can Thrive Through Nichemanship
Innovative Hiring - Barbershop Marketing (it was a different time in the job market)
The Power of Questions
Are You Galvanized or Paralysed

and the list goes on...

Some of these were written to "softly" promote my Time Management Book. Some of them were just articles that I had in me that I thought I would share. Some of them were off topic for my blog so I did not blog about them. Some of them were blog entries that were almost ready to be articles so I turned them into articles.

Some of these articles are my better works. I would not bother to turn something into an article if I did not think it was good at the time.

So the word on free content sites is use them by contributing or use them as a source.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good Procrastination - Constructive Avoidance

We finally got a bit of snow in Long Island.

Today, I want to get my home made Christmas gift done. It is a tradition in our family to draw names and make a gift. So - top priority today. Get it done.

But what have I done? I have done just about everything but that. Not that what I have been doing does not need doing - like shoveling the snow, putting some weather stripping on the front door, catching up on some emails, working out, finishing a book review and now blogging.

What I call that is constructive avoidance. I avoid what I want to do by doing other things.

At least it is constructive.

I am thinking - is this good procrastination?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The War of Art

I listened recently to a CD series (which is actually a book as well) called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The audio version can be found here

I loved the program. The gist of the message is in all things great we face resistance and resistance stops us from doing our art. Although Pressfield is an actual writer and so uses the word artist for writers and painters, etc. I would apply the same lessons to those of an entrepreneur.

He was briefly a marine in the US Marines. He said it's not necessarily that Marines are any better, but they teach the Marines how to deal with pain and live under adverse circumstances and that's very good life training. Part of success is being able to deal positively with adversity.

The gist of his message is we need to be disciplined, we need to recognize that we will have resistance to doing what we need to or should be doing. To get over that resistance we need to develop systems to deal with it. Successful people are able to do things that don't give immediate gratification. I wrote a blog on Delayed Gratification and the Economy last year.

It is a good book. He is a writer so it is well written (despite the fact that I listened to it and did not read it).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pomodoro Time Management Timer System

All Time Management systems are based on the same principles (including my own Time Leadership one). Basically - list what needs to be done (the old fashioned TO DO list), Prioritize it then do it.

What "new" systems tend to offer are tricks. I am playing now with the Pomodoro system. The Pomodoro system is based on using a timer and breaking everything into 25 minute blocks called a Pomodoro. In order to use the system, you need to know what to do (the to do list) and it needs to be prioritized.

The trick of this system is it helps with focus. For a 25 minute block, 100% focus on one task. Then take a 5 minute break.

I bought an inexpensive timer from Amazon. What I like about it is no batteries and it ticks. What I don't like about it is that it ticks. The ticking can help me focus but sometimes it distracts me.

What I have learned in doing this system for a couple of weeks are:

1 - I often get interrupted. Fortunately many of these interruptions are of my on making and can be avoided (like reading the email that comes in).

2 - I have less 25 minute blocks in a day than I thought. Simple maintenance (like email again) can suck a lot of time from my day.

3 - 5 minutes is a long break.

4 - I can get a lot done in 25 minutes of high focus. (like write an article)

5 - in order to be high focus and high productivity for the 25 minute, I need to be well prepared. Often the preparation itself can take 25 or more minutes.

Interesting system and I think I will use it some.

You can download a free timer at

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tribute to Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn, one of the great motivational speakers of our time died on December 5, 2009.

Jim's contribution to the motivational speaking arena was tremendous optimism and the ability to reframe things, constantly looking for the positive in everything.

He was a prolific author, some of his books include:
The Art of Exceptional Living
7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness: Power Ideas from America's Foremost Business Philosopher
Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle

All worth reading.

Jim Rohn is also known for his motivational and inspirational quotes

"Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion. "

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment."

"Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know. "

"Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don't fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day." (clearly he was a believer in Success Habits)

"Either you run the day or the day runs you. "

He will be missed.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Y-Size Your Business

I recently read Y-Size Your Business - How Gen Y Employees Can Save You Money and Grow Your Business by Jason Ryan Dorsey.

The Y generation comes after generation X and is often referred to as those being born between 1977 and 1992. That would put them between the ages of 17 and 32. They are also referred to as The Millennial Generation, being shaped heavily by the rapid growth of the Internet, cell phones, Twitter, blogs (I did not know I was shaping a generation)etc.

The book has a number of practical ideas and suggestions on how to recruit, train and get the most out of Gen Y. One of the best chapters I liked was Day 1 is all important. The title says it all - basically make the first day a good one. Common sense (which often is not that common).

We're now in a culture where we can expect to have four generations working in many businesses, often with different or unique values. I think it's critical for any manager or leader to understand some of these generational biases in order to run their company well.

I loved the book, even though I don't like to categorize people and don't consider myself to be within a certain class of people (like boomers). Very early in the book, Jason handles this by saying "A generation is not a rigid box that every single person of a certain age will fit nearly inside. Rather I see generational identity as simply a clue –a big clue–about where to start to more effectively connect with, engage, and lead people of different ages. A clue–not a box."

He talks about the Y-Generation having a feeling of entitlement, but places a lot of blame where it should be, on the parents. He says "I know how off-putting Gen Y's attitude can be, but before we condemn my generation as a bunch of spoiled brats (something that I find personally offensive and plan to tell my mom about) we should consider for a moment that entitlement is 100 percent a learned behavior. You are not born entitled. You have to be raised that way.."

He talks about how Gen Y looks for fun and excitement in a job and tells the story of Coldstone Creamery, a 1400+ store ice cream franchise (with locations in 12 countries) who have repositioned their job interview as an audition.

One thing I love about the Y generation is they're ease of use with technology and how they do Internet research and the use of techno gadgets comes so easily and naturally.

The book did have a section that pointed out that the boomer generation was the generation of workaholics (this is one I'm in)


There is an interesting interview on CBC - The Current on the fraud of Management Consulting. It is an interview with The Management Myth, authour Matthew Stewart.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Other Social Networks

I recently read How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Other Social Networks by Brad and Debra Schepp.

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It's interesting because I'm not necessarily looking for a job, but more what I want is a passion.

I've come to use LinkedIn fairly extensively and often LinkedIn to people when I meet them at shows, events etc. and encourage them to linkedin to me as it's one of the simplest ways to keep in touch with people.

I am an extensive user of most social networks including Blogger, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and even Tumblr.

I did learn a few LinkedIn tricks that I hadn't used. One of them is LinkedIn questions. To show expertise and build profile - they have a question and answer section.

A lot of the book underscored the need to be organized in networking (which I think applies not only to finding a job, but to finding new customers and new suppliers). I've always been very systematic in my approach to networking, the book simply reinforces that this is an excellent idea.

The book emphasizes the need to have a good LinkedIn profile and pointed out that changes in status get seen by people on your network.

At one point, I decided I needed to expand my network on LinkedIn and I soon learned the network effect. When I had less than 500 LinkedIn contacts, I made a habit of adding 5 new ones a day and when I hit 500 all of a sudden I was getting invited once a day by new people and now I'm a little bit concerned I'm going to go over the 3000 contact maximum that LinkedIn allows because I get invited so often to connect.

The book is a good refresher for those who are familiar with social networking and a good starter for those who are not. Although the gist of it is how to find a job, I think the book would be useful for general networking. I wrote an article on this very topic called 9 Ways to Network Easily.

Changing topics, I had a guest post on marketing posted at Hilary Toppers' blog.