Monday, January 30, 2012

YPO in Panama

I am just back from a YPO event in Panama. I had never been there. Interesting country.

If I were to invest in Latin America (and I do not - lots of business close to home), Panama would be my choice. They have only 3.5 million people and have a canal that delivers $3.6 Billion in revenue which keeps the economy stimulated. And the Billion in profit goes to pay for education and other government services.

And Panama signed a neutrality pact which means they cannot have any navy or military so there is no tax to fund that.

Only downfall might be the differences in income from lower to upper class and proximity to drug economies.

It was a great holiday.


And no blog is complete without a picture of my grandson, Josh.

Interesting article on Interest Networking on Primal Fusions' blog. It is a trend that I think is important. (and I have put my money where my mouth is and have invested in Primal)

And the "good habit" of the day. Never shower without breaking a sweat first. I find I can do this in a few minutes. (or will this rule just mean people shower less)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Simple Works

A friend emailed me the following (although as a brevity guy, I slightly edited it):

A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes, without the tube inside. This was due to the way the production line was set up, and people with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timings so precise that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time.

Understanding how important that was, the CEO of the toothpaste factory got the top people in the company together and they decided to start a new project, in which they would hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem, as their engineering department was already too stretched to take on any extra effort.

The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $2 million) later they had a fantastic solution - on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time. They solved the problem by using high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box would weigh less than it should. The line would stop, and someone had to walk over and yank the defective box out of it, pressing another button when done to re-start the line.

A while later, the CEO decides to have a look at the ROI of the project: amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the scales were put in place. Very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share. "That's some money well spent!" - he says, before looking closely at the other statistics in the report.

It turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales was 0 after three weeks of production use. It should've been picking up at least a dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report. He filed a bug against it, and after some investigation, the engineers come back saying the report was actually correct. The scales really weren't picking up any defects, because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good.

Puzzled, the CEO travels down to the factory(Jim's comment - at least he goes down to the floor), and walks up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed.

A few feet before the scale, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty boxes out of the belt and into a bin.

"Oh, that," says one of the workers - "one of the guys put it there 'cause he was tired of walking over every time the bell rang".

Monday, January 23, 2012

Management Tips

We finally got a bit of snow. It is beautiful. And grandson Josh continues to flourish. He does quite an ab workout (I tried doing it). Lying on his back and kicking his feet and hands. It is tough.

I read a neat little book by Harvard Business Review that is just called Management Tips. It is divided into 3 sections - Managing Yourself, Managing Your Team and Managing Your Business. Each page is a short stand alone tip. There are about 200 tips. An example:

"Be Confident But Not Really Sure.

One of the keys to effective decision making is confidence. Even if you only have temporary convictions, act on them. If you doubt your decision while making it, trust in your leadership may erode. Strong opinions signal confidence and provide others with the guidance they need. But resist the urge to stick to your decision. Have the humility to realize that you might be wrong if better information comes along. And be prepared to change your mind and correct your course if this happens."

Like all things you read, it all needs to be filtered. My observation on this tip is:

1 - I agree with being definite and deciding and being fast.
2 - I also think there needs to be good research and preparation in advance to help the right decision up front. I see leaders who change their minds too often as ineffective.
3 -I believe in humility.

Have a great day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

How to get Over Writers' Block

One of my most viral posts of all time was "How to Write and Article in 20 Minutes" which was read well over 1,000,000 times. I used to write more about writing so thought I would do another one on the topic.

Speaking of going viral, my second most viral post "60 Minutes to Clear Goals" was also plagiarized hundreds of times. Not sure why that one was and the other was not.

I have not blogged for a couple of weeks here so feel guilty and must have writers' block.

Some days I am so full of good ideas (at least in my own mind) that I worry I cannot capture them all. I even jot notes so not to miss them. Other times, I cannot even think of what to write. I know many writers (and that is not really what I am - it is just a part of me) have the same problem. So I thought I would do a short post on writers' block.

5 Ways to Get Over Writers Block

1 - Just start writing. Write about anything. In the worst cases, take any book off the shelf and turn to a page and then write about that. Basically this is garbage writing to get the mind and fingers working.

2 - Read about how to write. Reading about writing can be inspirational. Read about how to get over writers' block.

3 - Start research. Often the cause of writers' block is the lack of background information. The writing flows well when you feel well prepared.

4 - Keep a file of writing ideas. When the ideas flow too quickly or time doe not permit writing, capture them in the file. This can be a treasure trove of "starting" gems.

5 - Take a break from writing. I find that I only have so much good material in me and when I write too much, I can burn out. I think that may be why I have not posted here for a couple of weeks. I have split my posting among various sites (like the Canrock Blog, CMA Blog and I even have done some of the writing for sites that SEO Pledge (one of our investee companies) does like How do you live within your means. So I have written too much so taking a break from writing will help.

I have been enjoying this crisp weather. Yesterday it was sunny but about -7C (20F) with a bit of wind when I started a 6 mile run in Sunken Meadow (a Beautiful long Island Park). When I got in the car, I noticed an icicle of sweat from my hat. I did not have my blackberry or would have taken a picture.

I have a natural interest in SEO. The recent Google change certainly changes that landscape. By including results from other Google properties first, they are capturing much more of the search results. Ultimately they may end up keeping us on Google only. They will own all the information.

Monday, January 02, 2012

What Great Salespeople Do

I have enjoyed a lazy few days (lazy even though there was lots of working out - although lots of food so it likely was a net zero). e-mails and calls have been few. My productivity is actually quite low. Or perhaps my important productivity is quite high.

Although I'm not caught my normal frantic pace, I have had some time to think.

Part of my thinking led me to my views on being long-term. I posted a blog post on the Canrock site with my views.

Life is about selling. I read a great book by Michael Bosworth and Ben Zoldan called What Great Sales People Do–the science of selling through emotional connection and the power of story.

The book talks about the power of stories so of course it is filled with interesting stories.

What great salespeople do boils down to 5 things:

Vulnerable–sales people are willing to show their vulnerability. They do not need to be perfect.

Caring–great salespeople show their caring.

Authentic–great salespeople are authentic ( this ties into the caring, people know if caring is fake)

Listen–great salespeople are great listeners. I personally recall many meetings where I said very little and the customer was impressed. People like to be listened to.

Storyteller–people like to listen to stories. People remember stories. People retell stories.

The book goes on to elaborate on each of these 5 characteristics and includes examples of where they might be used. It also tells us how to improve in each one of those key areas.

One cute story used for illustration in the book (to show a lack of understanding and functioning on a purely intellectual level) comes from a movie I enjoyed - The Social Network. In the scene, Erica is trying to break up with her boyfriend Zuckerberg. Typed verbatim ( so mom excuse the language):

Erica–"Going out with you is like dating a stairmaster. I think we should just be friends."
Zuckerberg - "I don't want to be friends"
Erica– " I was just being polite I have no intention of being friends with you. Look you're probably going to be a very successful computer person. But if you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you are a nerd. I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that that won't be true it be because you are an a&*hole"


Speaking of movies, I quite enjoyed the conspiracy theory movie " Who killed the electric car" on a recent flight. It is an excellent documentary worth watching. There was one line in the movie that struck me:" people want us(Americans) to live like Europeans" and it was said as if that was a bad thing. And I did take it out of context so you have to watch the movie.

I hope for the world in 2012 is that the environmental tide changes and people start thinking more about conservation and treating the world right.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Years Resolution Time

I have had a busy couple of weeks. Lots of travel. Lots of family time in Canada. All good.

One habit that serves me well is the gratefulness habit. And I have a lot to be thankful for. Like the beauty of my son (uncle Dave) with my grandson Josh.

And the beauty of Canadian snow.

I like New Years. I always spend time thinking about my goals.

I like the process of setting goals. I like developing the action plans. I like devising my success habits that will help me.

I am also thinking of un-success habits. Things I do which take time but do not deliver results. Having a stop list is sometimes as important as a start list.

Goal setting starts with knowing what is important to me. The more I can clarify that, the better I can devise goals that align with it.

Now I am thinking about the self discipline to make them all happen.

I wrote a blog post on the Canrock Ventures blog about setting goals for companies and how leaders can use them to inspire. And while writing this, I am thinking if I need to focus on better writing in less places. I have lots of blogs I contribute to now.