Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jim's Longevity Diet Broth

I promised something other than a book review or race report so here is something else I do.

When I am at home, I make "Jim's Special Secret Organic Longevity Diet Broth" three or four times each day. (Perhaps I should open a marketing company since I am so good at coming up with memorable names for products)

The recipe is simple. First I turn on the kettle. Then I go outside and pick a good size handful of fresh herbs and greens(about 1/2 cup loose). At this time of year my options are limited but I still have a fair crop of parsley and chives so lately it has been mostly that.

I cut the herbs up finely with scissors and put them in my 16 oz wide mouth thermos. Pour boiling water on them.

One of my favourite broths is just basil. 1/2 C basil is flavourful and the best.

I also add spinach, lettuce, beet greens, turnip greens etc when they are in season. Cutting them with scissors as I do allows me to use the slightly tougher greens and stems that are available at this time of year. As I write, I am sipping on a broth made with beet greens.

Sometimes I add something to give it a bite like a spoonful of salsa, a slice of jalapeno pepper (which were a great crop this year) or some curry powder. I also sometimes grind some cumin for it. I never add salt but that may be just my taste.

Sometimes I add a teaspoon of small lentils and/or oatmeal or rice. This adds a bit more substance.

The broth is ready to drink/eat in an hour (but often I wait 3-4 hours and it is still hot). For maximum health impact, I suggest using that hour to run 12 K.

Although I call it broth, I eat the "greens" with a spoon. So eat the whole thing.

It is that simple.

Economics change behavior. I have long been an advocate of dramatically increasing energy prices to change peoples' behavior.

There is a cute (but horrible) story on economics and prisoners in the 1700's that illustrates the power of economics.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Next Level Book Review

A good friend asked me if I do anything but read and run. I guess that is a lot of what my blog has turned into - a book review and race report. Next week, I promise to tell you about Jim's Organic Healthy Herbal Longevity Broth. But for now, another book review:

I read Scott Elbin's "The Next Level - What Insiders Know About Executive Success". This is a second edition with some updates. I always figure any book on an X edition is likely a good book (My Time Management Book is on the 4th edition and I know for me, I will likely do a 5th edition and update it a lot. The last edition was about 5 years ago and things change)

The Next Level starts with a list of 4 reasons executives fail:

Ineffective Communication
Poor Work Relationships and Interpersonal Skills
Failure to Clarify Direction or Performance Expectations
Failure to Adapt and Break Old Habits.

It attacks these problems with a table which lists things to do and things to drop to move to the next level. Each chapter then elaborates individually on each item on the chart with how to ideas.

One datapoint that I found interesting is high potential leaders "regularly seeks out knowledge and experience to perform at higher levels". This is something I have always practiced. I like to envision what it would be like to sell $X and have Y employees - what would I need to know, how would I need to act. Then I set about to learn and study. I think this has been how I was fortunate enough to scale from running a business from the trunk of my car up to $2 Billion in sales. I study.

I loved that the book even had a section on my favourite topic "what should I repeatedly do".

The book suggests using the GROW method to solve problems:

Whats Next

At the end of each chapter was a list of 10 tips. EG 10 tips for Picking Up Defining What to Do and Letting Go of Telling How to Do It.

There is a good appendix on creating your ESP - Executive Success Plan. And another one with a list of situations and where in the book to find details on the situation.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Intangibles of Leadership

I read a book "The Intangibles of Leadership - The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance" by Richard Davis.

I am a big believer that leadership is mostly about intangibles.

The first intangible is wisdom. Daunting although Davis gives hope that we all have wisdom and that it can be developed:

"Often we think of wisdom as something inborn, an attribute some possess and others do not." "...these conceptions of wisdom miss the mark. First, none of us is born wiser than anyone else...Second, wisdom is not passively obtained, it is the result of conscious reflection, evaluation and decision."

Davis goes on to explain tangible ways to gain wisdom - things like "seek out new ideas", "find a mentor", "designate time for reflection" etc.

"Knowledge is the process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification" Martin Fischer

Makes me think. Perhaps I pursue knowledge too much and do not allow myself enough time to find wisdom.

One of the intangibles is Fortitude. The closing line in that chapter:

"Your leadership destiny will be determined largely by the strength with whcih you confront challenges"

The book continues with other intangibles like integrity (the obvious one), presence, will, self-insight etc.

It is a good book that provokes thought.

Gives me a new list of 10 things I can work towards.
I ran the Babylon Post Office Cafe 5K on Saturday. Good time (for me) 22:11 but still did not place. It was beautifully cool weather. I run better in the cool.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Conscientious Equity Book Report

I read a new book by Neal Asbury called Conscientious Equity - An American Entrepreneur's Solution to the World's Greatest Problems.

His thesis is that businesses can help solve the problems of the world through having what he calls a Conscientious Equity Accord that includes:

1 - Strong Labor rights (especially around child labor)

2 - Powerful anti corruption rules (He makes an excellent case that poverty and corruption are linked. )

3 - Stringent environmental protections (my personal view is we need to bring current externalities into the economic system.)

4 - Access to foreign markets the same as those accorded to what they are granted in our markets (I agree with the theory but fear that all countries will try to tip the balance in their favour. I am nervous about the increasing protectionism I see in the US - especially as it relates to Canada which I suspect is an unintended consequence)

5 - Ironclad intellectual property safeguards

6 - Global rules of law that make this all enforceable globally (this is the one I see as a challenge)

He believes in free trade (as do I) and thinks the people of the world can prosper if given a chance to compete fairly. He speaks about the tariff applied to US goods in China (from the artificially low currency) and how allows China to sell seven times as many goods in the US as the US sells to China.

The book is a must read for anyone thinking of entering foreign markets. Although it might make it almost too scary to consider.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Nando Parrado and James Cameron

I have heard Nando Parrado speak twice before. I have watched the movie Alive. The story of the rugby team that crashed on a plane in South America. Many of those in the crash had never seen snow. They were dressed in tshirts. No food. No water. They resorted to cannibalism but that is not the real story. That is a sideline.

Nando's mother and sister died in the crash.

45 people crashed in the Andes. 29 people survived the initial crash. 24 of those had no major injuries. Ultimately only 16 survived.

Nando ultimately walked out to be rescued. 10 1/2 days walk over rugged mountains. He lost 65 pounds during the trek.

Random unknown choices saved his life. Nando sat in row 9. Everyone after row 9 died.

It sure makes anything I have to deal with seem small.

I am always thankful for the charmed life I lead. Hearing Nando makes me even more thankful.


Moving and sad story but reminds me of a humorous "child" memories

When my daughter Laura was about 3 or 4 she asked me "daddy - are we vegetarians or are we cannibals?"


The final speaker of World Business Forum was James Cameron. He is an impressive visionary (especially in light of what I am doing with Three2N).

Of course it started with a video presentation. His speech was done interview style.

Cameron is a real leader in the modern movie industry (Titantic, Terminator, Avatar and lots of others). He writes, directs, produces etc. He does everything in the film industry.

Doing multiple films is a lot like being a serial entrepreneur. Each movie is a complete startup. Start with nothing and build from there. He likes to start with a few known people and mix in some new people to add to the creativity and energy.

Avatar was a longer than usual project. It took over 4 years to produce.

His comments:

"to get the most from people, you need to respect them on a daily basis". "Give people permission to make mistakes and they are less likely to make them." "Harness the power of the wave. You do not make the wave but you harness it still." "5 years from now, most films will be 3D. Bad 3D will hurt the adoption." "Don't watch TV for 6 hours per day"

He was a fitting person to end a great program. I tend not to be star struck, that said, he is an inspiration.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Listening to Renee Mauborgne - author of Blue Ocean Strategy. Blue Ocean Strategy is one of my favourite books. A must read for any leader. What Renee is saying:

"The role of management is to enhance productivity or creativity of organizations.". Clearly we should spend more time on the creativity but reality is we tend to focus more on just the productivity.

Increasingly creativity is going to take on a more important role. In the future, productivity alone will not be enough.

Blue Ocean is about going beyond competition. Too often I see companies chasing the competitor rather than looking for the new untapped markets. The key is to go for market creating rather than market competing moves.

She gives examples of companies entering new markets. They not only can have the lowest cost structure but no price competition. Wow - a business persons' dream.

4 ways to find a Blue Ocean:

1 - Eliminate what customers do not need
2 - Reduce what they do not value

3 - Raise value of what people get from your industry
4 - Create new markets completely

If you can redefine your industry challenge, you will find a Blue Ocean.

They tend to not get copied easily since the market share can become so dominant so quickly and at the same time, they tend to be non-traditional.

Blue Ocean particularly works well in a high cost country like Canada or the US. Over time all Blue Oceans become Red (meaning lots of competition)

In the current economy, Blue Ocean Strategy seems to be the solution. I think the key is to be able to take time to reflect in an environment that stimulates creativity (for me, a conference like this does that for me as does reading a good book) Easily said but ...

Professor Joseph Stiglitz and Al Gore

Joseph Stiglitz is a renown professor. Like most of the speakers at World Business Forum, he has authored a few books including Free Fall.

His session was a Q and A style. He is answering semi-political questions about the stimulus program.

He said "we need to retrofit ourselves for global warming"

"We are destroying our human capital".

"The new normal will be much higher levels of unemployment."

"It is not the interest rate that stimulates growth, it is availability of capital"


Al Gore spoke. Of course a lot about the environment. He emphasized the danger of an energy policy that encourages dependence on middle east oil. His suggestion is security and carbon are closely connected.

As our population moves from 2 Billion to 9 Billion over the next 40 years, our planet will be increasingly taxed. He sees a need to dampen that by education and empowerment of women.

He also spoke of the need for jobs. His suggestion that we can put people to work by moving more strongly into energy alternatives.

Some Quotes:

"a humans we confuse the impossible with the improbable. If it has not happened in the past it will not happen in the future."

"I am a big believer in business and capitalism"

"burning of coal is the largest contributor to global warming. Oil and gas are second"

"2010 so far is the hottest year in history since temperatures have been recorded. The number of all time highs is unprecedented"

" US consumes more oil products than the next 20 consuming countries combined"

"water level rising at 1 cm per decade with the threat of meter plus rises to come"

"China is number one in solar and wind"

"we are entering a period of consequences" (regarding the environment)

Of course he is a good speaker. He is also a consummate politician.

Steven Levitt - Freakonomics

I am listening to Steve Levitt, author of Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics. He is a professor in economics. He is a micro economist (so looks at the impact in companies and individuals) and does not try to look at the macro economy.

He makes economics interesting. He is funny, self depreciating and a good story teller.

He told the story of a lowly IRS clerk, John Silage, who noticed many of the names of children on forms were strange - like Fluffy and Spike. John suggested to the IRS that they add SSN of children to the tax form. It took a few years to get that idea to get implemented. When it was implemented, 7,000,000 children vanished overnight. This was 1 in 10 children. It made the government billions of dollars.

It was an amazing story of economics. The inertia of big business (like the IRS) to whom it was a minor pain to implement. The low enforcement rate caused low moral compass among a huge percent of the population.

I have always known the data in business is valuable. Levitt re-emphasizes that. There is gold in the data. The more the better. Then of course ask the right questions and do the right analysis.

He talks a lot about marketing. He really appreciates testing and would be a big believer in split run marketing that I write about in "Overspray in Marketing".

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Joseph Grenny

Listening to Joseph Grenny at World Business Forum yesterday. He cowrote The Power to Change Anything, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High, and Crucial Confrontations.

He is a great speaker. Marketing oriented.

"Our greatest capacity is the ability to influence others". "The root cause of underperformance in our organizations is not a lack of ideas, it's a lack of influence," says Grenny. "Through incorporating the Influencer model, leaders can develop a robust strategy to execute on the initiatives most important to their organization."

The key is to know how to "Influence Change". There are 6 Personal Motivations- the first 2 are:

1 - something is more fun or more painful. To influence ideally change fun or pain. Sometimes this is because people are not in touch with the long term impact - EG eat sugar (pleasure now, pain (fat) later.)

Want more influence - tell potent stories.

2 - Sometimes there is a lack of skill. People are just not sure what they need to do. Work on skill building.


Looking forward to another good day today.

Completely unrelated but I thought this was a good time management book quote:

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will
pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."

— Earl Nightingale

Charlene Li

The current speaker is Charlene Li social media maven and author of Open Leadership anf Groundswell. Of course I find it interesting since I like social media - Facebook (I only do a bit), Twitter, Linkedin and even blogging.

In the age of social media, companies are no longer in control. The media now includes individuals. And individuals can multiply. Li says in this world, companies need to be fast online and open. It is about relationships. Conversation. Transparency.

"Social Media allows any employee to have a greater relationship with customers. It can be inspiring or terrifying."

"Be disciplined about social media". She suggests monitoring comments and then reach out directly to the source or respond publicly. Great theory but for a large company the number of mentions are so great, the magnitude of the job is huge. That is why a company like General Sentiment that measures whether what is said is good or bad can help filter.

She quoted John Hayes - CMO of Amex who said "We tend to overvalue the things we can measure and undervalue the things we cannot".

Jack Welch

I am listening to Jack Welsh at World Business Forum. He certainly has opinions.

I am not a big Jack Welch advocate. I see him as harsh on people. I view his black and white opinions as well...too black and white. This said, he has a lot we can learn from.

He actually does twitter and does his own tweets.

I like Jack's view that HR is a critical function. He really emphasizes hiring the best people. He is famous for his "fire the bottom 10%". It is known by some as Rank and Yank. His assumption is that you can know which are the best.

When asked the question about this. He does acknowledge that people are not in the "category" forever.

Jack says "those guys that say getting rid of the bottom 10% demoralizes people have been in the classroom too long"

I like that he is in favor of trade and likes entrepreneurs. Welch said "We have to grow the pie. We have to celebrate entrepreneurs. "

I like his views on innovation (we need more of it and it is a key driver).

Some Quotes by Jack Welch

"Be candid with everyone. "

"Change before you have to. "

"Control your own destiny or someone else will. "

"Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be. "

"Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act. "

"If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it you almost don't have to manage them. "

"The Internet is the Viagra of big business. "

Jim Collins

I am blogging live at World Business Forum.

The first speaker is Jim Collins - author of Good to Great and Built to Last.

"Good is the enemy of Great."

Good to Great studied

Built to Last studied why some companies last and why others fail. He identified 5 stages of decline. The scary part is it is not until stage 4 that companies realize they are in decline.

The stages:

1 - Hubris. Arrogance. I have often seen this characteristic in not only successful companies but in successful people. The obvious answer - practice humility.

2 - Undisciplined pursuit of more. I can see how companies fall into this trap.

3 - Denial of Risk and Peril. I always like Andrew Grove's(Intel) quote and the title of his book "Only the Paranoid Survive". To remain great, companies must see the risks.

4 - Grasping for Salvation.

5 - Failure.

Some Jim Collins quotes:

"I've never found an important decision made by a great organization that was made at a point of unanimity. Significant decisions carry risks and inevitably some will oppose it. In these settings, the great legislative leader must be artful in handling uncomfortable decisions, and this requires rigor."

"Level 5 leaders are differentiated from other levels of leaders in that they have a wonderful blend of personal humility combined with extraordinary professional will. Understand that they are very ambitious; but their ambition, first and foremost, is for the company's success. They realize that the most important step they must make to become a Level 5 leader is to subjugate their ego to the company's performance. When asked for interviews, these leaders will agree only if it's about the company and not about them."

"A great company will have many once-in-a-liftetime opportunities."