Friday, March 25, 2011

Found Time

I love found time.

This morning, I had a meeting. Google maps said it was a 1:45 drive, so I rounded that to 2 hours. Then I thought, being NY, the traffic through the city could be bad so I added an hour. Then I got worried about rush hour so woke up an hour early and decided to leave right away.

And I found at 5:30, there is no traffic. So I ended up with almost 3 hours of "found time".

One time management trick I almost always employ is to have "useful" things that need doing with me. So I have my computer and could get on top of my endless email. And I have a couple of books.

And I am enjoying my Getabstract subscription. Always handy to research any challenge I have quickly. I use reading as one way to help solve problems.

One of the books I read during my "found time" was Buy in - Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down by John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead.

I like John Kotters' books and writings. I previously reviewed A Sense of Urgency and What Leaders Really Do.

I get tons of entrepreneurs presenting new ideas an venture. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It is the implementation that counts. Wondering how selling the idea relates to implementing well. I suppose anyone who can sell an idea is more likely to be able to sell the product or service of their venture so it likely bodes well.

It has a chapter with 24 objections and how to overcome them. It talks about 4 ways to kill an idea (one simple way I do this is to put it on the shelf for a week. If the idea continues to grow in my mind and I cannot get rid of it, then it likely has potential. Other ideas drop out of mind though.)

This book, as expected, is excellent. Short, easy to read, to the point.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stop Workplace Drama

It is amazing how a bit of personal news brings everyone out of the woodwork. Thanks for all the congratulations.

I read an interesting book by Marlene Chism - Stop Workplace Drama - Train Your Team to Have No Complaints, No Excuses, and No Regrets.

I hate politics - including office politics and this book attempts to come up with creative ways to stop them. Or perhaps - recognize that they will exist so make them positive.

Her big point is it is about communications and much of that starts with listening. Much of drama comes from a lack of clarity. It can also come from the relationship or from resistance.

I have found most of my business career involves overcoming resistance to change. Selling change is a large part of success. Chism had a number of practical suggestions on this. EG - implement a trial period, manage expectations, challenge whether is a gap or is it as big as thought,

She talks about The Drama which is the situation and that does not have you be your Drama or reaction.

I actually like having a few complainers. They can be the ones that point out areas for improvement. Of course it helps if they have some tact about it but even without, it can be high value. I prefer to call them more positively the devil's advocates. People who are willing to speak their mind and point out challenges.

This is the same as customer complaints. They can be your best source of building future excellence.

It is a good book - essential for any leader who has drama issues.

I always tend to look at things from the leaders' view. Another view:

If you are afraid of your boss, this book will give you the courage to face that fear. If you are keeping things from your boss, you will look inward to ask yourself where your commitment truly lies. If you are letting the queen bee run the show, you will be forced to face the truth and ask yourself what you are afraid of losing or who you are trying to please—and at what expense. Excerpt from Stop Workplace Drama

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Personal Post

No business gems in this post. Some of my readers are friends so I thought I would share some news.

My daughter, Beth is pregnant so soon I will be a grandfather.

Makes me feel old to be called that. Perhaps I am getting there..

I thought I was in shape but I was very sore from 4 hours of hard gardening on Saturday. It all started with a 4 mile St Patricks race. My time on the race was 30:25 which was a disappointing 45 seconds slower than last year. So slowing down in old age.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Joy of Reading

I love reading. I view as a privilege. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is for the recreation value. Perhaps the intellectual stimulation. Perhaps memories of my mom reading to my brothers and I when I was little.

Reading stimulates innovative thoughts and for some reason, I value those highly. Perhaps it is because "leaders are readers" or "successful people read" and I am so driven to succeed (not sure why - perhaps I should read something on the topic).

Recently I started reading book summaries at again. I think it combines my love of time management with my love of reading and perhaps a bit of my twitter personality (See Short and Fast is the New Trend).

My latest book read is Workarounds That Work - How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work by Russell Bishop.

It talks about the barriers to accomplishment (and how to get around them). Things like decision paralysis, meaningless meetings, email avalanche, over-multitasking, culture clashes etc.

Some the the great sections include - email etiquette (I suggest emailing it to everyone in your contact database), making the most of meetings, and overcoming complaints, criticism and resistance.

Conquering these require 3 common elements:

1 - Intention - focus and commitment
2 - Accountability - own your outcome
3 - Response-ability - your choice to control and influence what you can (and you can influence much more than you think)

Good book. It inspires to me "just get it done".

Friday, March 11, 2011

Entrepreneurial Effect

I was saddened to hear about the Tsunami in Japan this morning on the way into work. Any challenges I have are mere blips.

I read an awesome book last night - The Entrepreneurial Effect by James Bowen.

In the introduction, Bowen says:

" investors, advisor/mentors, founders, entrepreneurs, professional managers, inventors, consultants, academics, students and others interested in the start-up and growth of technology based product and service companies."

It is a collection of articles by successful entrepreneurs. I know most the of the writers and am friends with many of them so I found it particularly interesting. I am almost reluctant to mention any of them by name for fear of offending the ones I don't mention.

I also like the article format since you can pick the book up for a few minutes, read an article and come back to it later.

It is broken into section like "Being an Entrepreneur", "Strategy and Planning", "Marketing and Sales", "Growth", "Legal" ,"Investors" and "Corporate Culture".

I think everyone should read the book. I am a bit biased though since I did contribute one of the articles.

I loved it because it inspires entrepreneurial thinking - something I find exciting and something I think we need more of (well maybe not me but...)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Success and Discomfort

I have been traveling and usually do not live quite as healthily when I do. At home I run well , do weights, eat well and take my vitamins. On the road, food is less healthy and I make excuses to not work out. Need to polish my road warrior systems.

My latest theory is success involves a bit of discomfort. For example, being healthy means I am slightly uncomfortable while working out. And not eating can mean slight discomfort which some people interpret as hunger.

For example, reading instead of watching TV involves a bit more work so hence - discomfort.

I am not a believer in discomfort for puritan reasons, but when it is connected to success, I am. Part of it is short term pain for long term gain (see number 5 in my 11 Tricks for Self Discipline).

So the key then is to figure out how to make the discomfort less noticeable. Some tricks I use:

1 - Focus on the goal. Looking at numbers and thinking how success will feel can help me through it.

2 - Make it a habit (or as I say - a success habit). People tend not to think much once something is a habit.

3 - Distraction. Some people use music. I tend to set myself with a problem to solve.

4 - Choose between 2 discomforts. EG - I can ride the exercycle or do elliptical.

5 - Get started. I find it is easier to finish when I actually start.

6 - Positive self talk. It is a privilege to be able to work out.


And my book suggestion for the day is As One - Individual Action Collective Power by Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley.

I was prepared for an advertorial. I did not even particularly like the title. But I was wrong - this is an outstanding book.

The book introduces 8 archetypes. Early in the book, it uses a flowchart to direct you based on your business situation to which archetype is likely right for you.

For each archetype, there is an "inspirational" story about the archetype. There is then a detailed story of one of the inspirations mentioned in the first section. then there is a section of 6 characteristics of the archetype. And finally a applicability section on how to use that type and what works well, what to work on etc.

EG - one Archetype is "The Producer and Creative Team". The intro share glimpses of Blockbuster. The detailed chapter was on Cirque du Soleil. The characteristics included:

1 - Producers articulate.
2 - Team is recruited for individual talent and what they add to the team.
3 - Creative team has full power.
4 - Success is measured by ability to innovate as well as reach original objectives
5 - Dissent is used to push creative boundaries
6 - Creative team collaborates intensely

Then a series of questions like:

1 - Have you got the right mix of talent
2 - How disciplined is the creative process

As with any categorization, no one is just one type. We are parts of many. I had trouble deciding my "type" (perhaps that is a characteristic of my type)

Friday, March 04, 2011

2 Types of Sales Forces

Sales forces come in all sorts. Most are a blend of several of these two types. As with most types, one is not right and the other wrong - rather, they are just alternatives and either can work.

Straight Commission VS Straight Salary

Sales forces can be either. The different approaches attract different personalities. The straight commission people tend to be mavericks. They think they work for themselves (not the company). They tend to not like rules and can be tough to get to follow the rules. Much is about "what is in it for them".

Straight commission organizations need to focus on compensation systems that are simple enough to understand but detailed enough to get the behavior needed.

Straight salary tends to attract company loyalists. People with high security needs. Companies in this category should focus on making sure they actually do offer the stability the candidates seek.

My experience is most companies are a mix of both salary and commission.

Hunters VS Gatherers

Hunters do not mind going to a prospect they have never met. They like cold calling. They are excited by the first wins. They can tire of the "maintenance" required to keep customers long term. They crave the "new". They easily shake off rejection.

Gatherers like to have a long term relationships with customers. They love to service a client. They like customers to welcome them.

Many organizations expect a sales person to be both. One model I have seen work well is to have hunters that make the first few sales then pass the clients to gatherers.

Shooters VS Trainees

One philosophy can be to only hire the most seasoned sales reps who already have a rolodex. Ones with deep experience selling. Success in this category comes from vetting people well before hiring and making sure the hires are good cultural fits for the organization. The risk is higher since the cost is high. Hiring mistakes are expensive.

Another philosophy can be to coach, train and mentor entry level people. Work with them to teach them. Organizations in this category should focus on training and mentoring systems. Success lies in that process.

I read a short self help book by Takumi Yamazaki called "Shift - 33 Exercises to Make You Who You Want to be".

I have read so many self help books (figure I needed them) that I had seen many of the exercises (or variations of them).

Some of my favourite reminders included self talk like:

"It's not like me to..." rather than "I am always..."

Rather than say "I can't find time to do ..." Say "I don't want to find time to do ..." This drives home that how you spend you time is actually your choice.

And there was a chapter on Perseverance. "maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement" Mirriam-Webster

Like any "exercises" book - it would work best if you actually did the exercises.

Good book. One of the best collections of self help exercises I have come across.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


I have not given worry much thought but I did read an interesting post on 9 Habits of Being a Worry Free Leader by Denise Marek.

I think worry loosely fits into 2 categories - productive worry - where the worry spurs action and creativity and helps solve the issue. And stressful worry where it does not add to productivity but simply eats at you.

I sort of like the rush of being on edge and to some extent worry does that for me.

Speaking of creativity, I read "How Frank Lloyd Wright Got Into My Head, Under My Skin and Changed the Way I Think About Thinking - A Creative Thinking Blueprint for the 21st Century" by Sandy Sims. Interesting the way title run on these days.

It is a memoir of a man who hears of unbuilt Frank Lloyd Wright homes and his journey to get the rights and build the homes. As a memoir, it has intrigue, excitement, and a story line which keeps it interesting. The author certainly seems like an interesting chap.

It has lots of pictures of the construction and finished product. Anyone with an interest in architecture would enjoy that.

It comes with a companion workbook which has a series of exercises and suggestions. Things to do to unlock creativity. I did not do all the exercises but did find the ones I did do to be worthwhile and stimulating.

It is well written, entertaining and light.

As with most good books, it has lots of good quotations like:

"20 Years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain.

Of course, Twain spelled sales wrong and the lawyers keep advising not to leave the safe harbor.

And for completely recreational reading, I strongly recommend the Earnest Shackleton story "Endurance" by Alfred Lansing. It is a captivating true account of a ship wreck in Antarctica. Although it is completely recreational, it is a story of great leadership.