Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eat More Kale

I love early mornings. There are so many things I like to do (work out, journal, occasionally blog) and I seem to be more productive then. The problem is I also like late nights and the two do not mix well.


I believe in protecting intellectual property. I encourage all my companies to have good processes in place to keep things a trade secret or patent them. I also believe in having a brain though. Chick-fil-A is suing a tee shirt producer who is making tee shirts that say "Eat More Kale" saying it confuses people with their slogan "Eat Mor Chikin". I suspect they are losing tons of business. I know I always confuse kale with chicken.

I am wondering if there is a course they can take on common sense and perhaps spelling while they are at it.


Speaking of courses, Execusense has a course for CEOs on iPad tricks and tips that I might do Friday.


Speaking of kale, the garden continues to produce even though it is almost December! Carrots, parsley, squash and leeks are all still great.


I notice that Linkedin has gone viral (or perhaps I have reached the tipping point for me where the network effect has kicked in). I get 3-5 or even more invitations to connect daily. The interesting thing is I thought it already was viral.

I read a Carmine Gallo book - "The Power of foursquare - 7 innovative ways to get your customers to check in wherever they are". I liked his book on Steve Jobs Presentation secrets. I like this one even more.

I often try new technologies. Some I stick with and others I drop as "not for me". Foursquare is one I dropped. Perhaps I am not the right demographic. I thought it would not go. So much for predicting the future.

The Power of foursquare explains the success of foursquare - 0 to 10,000,000 users in 2 years.

Gallo creates an acroymn - CHECKIN to explain how companies should connect with with people where they are:

Connect your brand
Harness new fans
Engage your followers
Create rewards
Knock out the competitors
Incentives your customers (seems a bit of repeat of create rewards)
Never stop entertaining

Gallo explains each step with interesting case studies. I particularly liked the case study about a nonprofit that raised $50,000 using a "check-in" campaign. I have an interest in social media for fundraising since one of my investments - Karma411 does this.

Good book. Worth the read.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Best Business Book to Buy this year

My grandson, Josh, is doing great. No longer premature. Growing.

Photo of Joshua and his beautiful aunt Laura.

I do have some concern that he might be trying to hone in on my business deals though. Perhaps it is the way he dresses.


My current pet peeve is technology that does not add value. My current frustration is logging into a wireless network in an airport lounge. Why should it take 3 minutes? Why is it locked - do people try to use it instead of the free service the airport provides?

And how about a motion sensor tap that almost never responds unless you wave your hands under it an stand on your head (which is likely a good yoga move - so perhaps they do it so people get more exercise).

Technology application should enhance - not detract. It is an embarrassment to the tech community when it is poorly applied.


I really enjoyed Steve Job's autobiography. It is my pick of the best business book to buy. I suggest it should be required reading for anyone in business, technology, or just anybody. It is well written and captivating(reads like a good novel). And from what I know - mostly accurate.

I have thought about writing a long blog entry on my experiences with Jobs and Apple through the years.


I posted an article on "Why companies should not do B rounds" on the Canrock blog. I am sure it is sufficiently controversial to stir some comment (or flaming).

Speaking of controversy, there is a great Video on Occupy Wallstreet that is worth watching.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Weekend 2011

I ran a half marathon(21.1 Km) in Philadelphia today. It was a good day.

The race started at 7. Sunrise was 6:50.

I used a new anti chafe cream that worked great. No chafing which is good.

I like the race culture and the people who race. Good camaraderie. I arrived at the starting corrals at about 6 - about a mile walk from the hotel. There was already quite a crowd.

It was in the low 50s (and a bit windy) so I was wearing a sweatshirt over my singlet and had a space blanket to wrap in. It was the one I used was the one I was given at the finish of Boston 2005 which I considered to be lucky. I left it at the start (but got a new Philly one at the end so am break even on the space blankets for the weekend).

There were 25,000 runners.

The race countdown started at 6:59:50. At 7, I started to walk/run. It took 6 minutes to get to the start line.

After less than half a mile, I was warm so shed my sweatshirt (they collect the clothes for charity). The runners were thick so running was tough. The crowded running continued for the full race.

It was an easy downhill for the first couple of miles but I was feeling heavy and not running fast.

It was feeling warm despite the temperature only raising to the mid 50s (13 degrees C). So dumped the water from the water stop on my head.

The course was supposed to be flat but trust me, it was hilly after the first 2 miles. Bridges are aggressive hills.

Mile 3 and 4 clicked by. Still not easy. I was thrilled to miss the 5 mile marker. Was thinking mile 5 was long but the mile marker was 6!

By mile 7, I was thrilled to be over half. And resigned to just finish. No personal records. Just plod.

I sometimes count steps but know when I reach that point that I have issues. I run about 500 steps per mile. By mile 10, I was counting.

In the end, my slowest half ever at 2:03:47. 9:28 pace which seems way slow. Still hit the top half for age but disappointing. Need to train harder.

My goal is always to be in good enough shape to run a half (and have to train for a full). I think I need to change this to run a half in a certain time.

I have run about a dozen half marathons and 6 marathons (so technically, 24 half marathons). Thinking about my future runs and racing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Speed Reading, Steve Jobs etc

The garden continues to be prolific (despite snow a couple of weeks ago). The carrots could not be sweeter. Leeks are great. Parsley has even come back strong.

The picture of an orange (I did not grow that), an Apple (also did not grow it) and a tiny but cute pumpkin(that I did grow).


A friend recently suggested that we have a reading speed contest. Upon reflection, I am not sure I read that fast (although I am a big fan of Speed Reading). What I do well is filter. So if a book (or article)is well organized or if I can organize it, I can pull out the key points quickly.

Why don't I think I read particularly fast? I am reading Steve Job's biography which I find compelling and interesting (and largely accurate from what I know). But the reading is slow. The reason could be partly that I am savouring it but it is partly because of the nature of it. I am not trying to glean knowledge, mostly it is for interest. And as I read it, I am aware that I do not read as much for interest as I once did (although I still love my business books and find them interesting - just in a different way).

And in reality, it may not be about reading speed but reading well.


My book is out. Ok - not my book but I did contribute a chapter to James Bowen's book - Entrepreneurial Effect - stories by entrepreneurs in the Waterloo region. I look forward to reading the full book.


I have always been a fan of failure as in the fail forward type of failure. My Fail Often, Fail Fast, Fail Cheap is often quoted.

There is a good article in Forbes on how to turn failure into success.

I wrote a blog post on the Canrock blog on why VCs do not sign NDAs.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Act Like You Mean Business Review

A book review
: "I'm Helping Build a Cathedral"

I read an entertaining and useful book over the weekend on communicating - Act like You Mean Business - Essential Communication Lessons from Stage and Screen by Rob Biensenbach.

The author is an actor turned communications strategist. Where these two roads of his life intersect, he's written a book in which he creatively applies techniques from the theater to communicating off stage. As one might expect from a communications strategist, Rob's writing is very well organized and clear. Every three chapters he includes a numbered list of “X Ways to do Y” or “Seven super-hidden secrets about using comedy that the comedians won't tell you (unless you ask),” for example.

Probably most valuable are the anecdotes he brings from his careers in acting and PR: they captivate your attention in while you’re reading them, they demonstrate his points (i.e. “Show—don’t tell”), and they’re memorable.

My favorite anecdote comes from a section titled: “Don’t Settle for Rock Breakers.” It demonstrates how better communication can inspire and drive your workforce.


Back at the PR firm, we used to tell this story when talking about the employee communications practice:

A man walks pas a construction site and sees three people doing the same job. He asks each of them what they're doing.

"I'm breaking rocks," said the first.

"I'm earning a living," said the second.

The third one replied, "I'm helping build a cathedral."

That story has become a bit of chestnut (believe me, back in the day it was groundbreaking stuff), but more than anything else—more than diagrams and flow charts and bullet points—it captures the power of internal communications to transform organizations.

Cathedral builders are always going to be more engaged, more effective, more valuable than rock breakers.


As leaders—and each of us are—we need to know our own passions and those of our audience (i.e. coworkers), so we can summon them to action for cathedral-like causes. Reading this book made me realize there are many things I don’t know about my coworkers that would help me be a better communicator. Some of the questions the author suggests the reader asks themselves and others are: Who are your heros and why? Where does your job fit in the big picture? What makes you proud?

The book is full of thought-provoking questions and useful advice that ranged from specific—such as a reference to a software program (Bullfighter) that identifies and removes useless corporate jargon from typed documents—to big picture—how to create a cathedral builder. After reading the book, I added at least 7 items to my to do list on ways to improve my companies websites and relationships within the firm. But back to the story—

Why are stories so effective in communicating? Rob cites an interesting scientific study by Kendall Haven as “evidence that our brains are hardwired for stories.”

"The steady diet of stories that children experience modifies the brain to render it more predisposed to think in story terms" (Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story)

This got me thinking…if I read my newest grandson Time Leadership every night for the next few years, will it modify his brain to think of time in 25-minute blocks?