Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hiring For Attitude

Hiring For Attitude - A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting Star Performers with Both Tremendouse Skills and Superb Attitude is a new book by Mark Murphy.

"46% of the people hired will fail in the first 18 months on the job - 89% of the time, it's because of attitude"

I was first attracted to the "Hiring for Attitude" since my experience is people with good attitude seem way more engaged and are also more fun to work with. I often see the role of leadership as managing attitude. I always figure "People are going to have an attitude - may as well help it be a good one".

What I was worried about in a book on hiring for attitude was missing the skill, background or talent. Good attitude is great but it is clearly only one part of the puzzle.

The book has a number of interview questions suggested to figure out who has good attitude (I also learned that some of my favorite questions were bad ones like "what is the last book you read" and "what are your strengths and weaknesses" - Murphy believes these are asked too often so everyone has a rehearsed answer. Good questions are those that separate the good attitude from the bad attitude). It also explains how to build good interview questions.

Murphy is a big believer in textual analysis. Analyzing words to figure out if someone is telling the truth and to figure out their attitude. EG - high performers use past tense verbs when explaining a past situation because they are recalling a real situation. EG - People with nothing to say often hide behind fluffy adverbs.

Good attitude usually comes down to taking responsibility. I know in life, people tend to be more successful if they accept responsibility and it is not "the world did it to me".

Good book for anyone who is involved in hiring.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Picture says 1000 words

Sometimes a picture says a thousand words.

I am worried now to go into Whole Foods because they sell vegetarian fed meat and I am largely vegetarian.

And don't you just hate those fire extinguishers that are flammable? At least the one in this picture is non-flammable.

Monday, February 20, 2012


I thought everyone would like to see my grandson Josh lifting weights in the pool. Why not do 2 things at once? Can't see the writing on it but it looks like about 10 Kg.

He must have superpowers. Speaking of superpowers:

I am a big believer in self knowledge - know yourself for success so I was attracted by the book title Bring Your Superpowers to Work - your Guide to More Clarity, Confidence & Control by Darcy Eikenberg.

As the title suggests, this is a book about discovering your strengths and using them. According to Eikenberg, your superpowers are:

Your gifts (I consider the whole list to be gifts)
Your passions
Your experience (I was lucky in life to have rich experiences early. This created momentum which has served me well in life. A bit like compounding interest)
Your Attitudes (I figure I can control some of this)
Your Abilities (again - I can learn)
Your resources
Your relationships
Your community
Your Learnings
Your failures (I always say "Fail Often, Fail Fast, Fail Cheap")
Your Assets (I consider all these to be assets)
Your special talents
and other special stuff about you.

The book goes on to talk about now only how to discover them but how to harness them. It is full of hints and tricks. Some of the best ones are the obvious ones like "do the work", "click less to connect more", "make the uncomfortable your new comfortable" etc.

I am a big believer in self knowledge. The better I understand myself, the more success I have. So of course I loved the book.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

Thinking Josh will get all the girls this valentines day.

I have had feedback on my See Do Time Management System which I agree with. It works well at home but poorly in the office.

I think this is partly because home stuff tends to be similar in priority. I think it is partly because the time spend Seeing and Doing might have actually not been used productively at all.

As with all time management techniques, they are meant to be filtered. Use them when appropriate and use them where they work for you.

I find it highly effective at home if I set a time limit (otherwise I can spend all night and never get any downtime which is not the goal). 45-60 minutes of see do around the house can get a lot done and reduce my stress a lot.


HBR had a great article on "the 24 hour rule". The gist of excellence can be created by simply responding to all communication within 24 hours. The article was talking about internal communication but I thought it also applied to external communication. This speaks to having excellent systems for dealing with email volume. (although suggesting that might just be adding to Internet Compulsion Disorder (thought it was an interesting comment that most people use Google to figure out how to get rid of internet addiction))

The article was talking about Ford. An excerpt:

We spend a lot of time hunting for problems. During launch, people are driving cars, they're running tests, and they're doing things that can lead to the discovery of a new complication that could delay a launch. Say I'm an engineer who suddenly finds such a problem. I probably want to solve it on my own if I can--that's human nature. But it's not the right impulse. If I sit on a problem for too long, working on it in isolation, the whole team—and the launch timeline—may suffer.

So we put a rule in place. It says: 'You have 24 hours to take a new and emerging issue, try to understand it and see if you can resolve it yourself. After that, you have to go public with it.' It's an escalation process. Because with a lot of these issues, we can solve them pretty quickly by applying the intellect we have in this company.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be Zen for Focus

Often I find my mind racing.

My new See Do Time Management System where I just do something when I see it works well on tidying and cleaning but is actually less efficient in many cases. EG - If I see that the dashboard needs dusting so whip inside to grab a damp rag and wipe it. This is less efficient that getting a bucket and detergent and doing the whole inside.

Why it does work well for tidiness and cleaning is often the time used would not have been productively spent anyways.

The See Do system is sort of like the time management trick "always leave a room just a bit neater/cleaner than when you arrived".

Excellent time management requires more focus than See Do. So I am working on being more zen when I work.
I read a great book with a title that really resonated with me "Real Leaders Don't Boss" by Ritch Eich. The subtitle is Inspire, Motivate, and Earn Respect From Employees and Watch Your Organization Soar.

The gist of the book is captured in the title. I have long suggested that leaders ask not tell. And inspire - not demand. Doing this though is tremendously subtle. What is the how of how to do it? This book attacks just this problem.

I particularly liked the chapter on "Real Leaders know the difference between character and integrity". Character is about values and our moral compass. Integrity is about doing what you say you will do. Both are critical leadership traits.

It is a good book that should be a must read for any leader. My wonder is if the ones that will read it are the ones that do not need to and the ones that should read it don't.

This book is a bit like "Its all about Leadership" that I blogged about on the Canrock Ventures blog.

And as leisure reading, I read "It Happened on the way to War". An outstanding book about a marine who started an NGO in one of the worst slums in Africa. It is a page turner.
And in the Canrock world, one of our newest investee companies launched LoadnVote. It is similar to Honestly Now as it is an online site that people would spend time on for entertainment and interest (like Youtube).
I am not much of a music person and do not even follow pop culture but of course I heard that Whitney Houston died. It is tragic when someone young (she was 48) dies in any circumstance. Unfortunately in her case, it no doubt had to do with not beating her drug addiction problem.


Sunday, February 05, 2012

Brothers Weekend - Solving the Greece Problem

I am just back from Brothers' weekend - an Estill brother tradition for 20 plus years. It was a great weekend (although we still miss my brother Mark).

I find on brothers' weekends I often laugh more in a short weekend than I do in a month.

The weekend was held at my youngest brother, Lyle's house in North Carolina.

At first I was honoured to be invited to help solve the Greece problem but when I arrived I found out it was a grease problem (my brother Lyle owns a Biodiesel plant).

Busy weekend. I helped Lyle deliver a truckload of biodiesel (well, perhaps not helped but road shotgun). We kayaked on the lake and saw a bald eagle. While Glen and Lyle built a new chicken coop, I caught dinner in his catfish pond. Lyle is a lot more self sufficient than I am.

And of course we played lots of cards and reminisced.

We remembered with fondness when we were young boys asking mom what we could do. She replied "you could always go beat up Lyle" (teasing mom).

On the flight I read an awesome book - Ownership Thinking - How to End Entitlement and Create a Culture of Accountability, Purpose and Profit. See the review on the Canrock Blog.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The See Do Time Management System

Lately I have been using a slightly different time management technique which I call the "See Do" method. As the word implies, I see it and I do it.

This method works great for keeping things clean and tidy. See a spot, wipe it. See something out of place, put it away.

In email. I get an email and deal with it. Previously I had often used a 2 minute rule. If I could deal with it in less than 2 minutes I would but leave the longer ones. And during busy times, I would reduce that to a minute or less.

The see do method helps reduce stress and that nagging feeling there is something still ahead to do. Essentially, all tasks are fully completed.

Where the system has flaws and things required to make it effective:

1 - All other time management systems (including the ones I write about in my time management book) use a priority system. Know your big goals and work on them. So to make the See Do system more effective, I try to keep my work space tidy and have a list of my high priorities printed and on my desk.

2 - Some chores are best done all at once because it takes time to set up or tools. An extreme example would be painting. It would be ridiculous to touch up one chip because the time to get the paint and brush out and clean them. So part of the system has to include some logic. Leave the vacuuming until you do more than just a minute.

3 - The See Do system can cause the simplest things to take what seems like forever. And often the added time spent is not spent on high priority things (which is the problem most people have with time - they spend most of their time on the low priority). For example, I walk into my den and notice my gloves on my desk so put them in the closet and notice the stuff on the closet shelf is messy so I straighten that and notice the floor to the closet is dusty so clean that and notice my shoes need polishing... An hour later, I finally get to my desk to get something important done (although my workspace is much neater and I feel better about things)

4 - I think it works best if this system is used in conjunction with other systems. So now I am mostly using this in my "down times". When I am energized and in high work mode, I still use my usual "work on the top task first"

So I do not advocate See Do all the time and not for everyone but adding a bit of it can be another way to get more done.


I read a good book by Gary Hamel - What Matters Now - How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation. (I love the long subtitles they use for books now - they tend to be quite descriptive)

Ironically (based on the See Do blog above), the first chapter starts with "What Matters Most" and talks about values. This is the first step I advocate in goal setting and time management.

It starts with all the things that are bad in leadership - greed, myopia, denial, deceit, hubris etc. then it moves to "discovering farmer values", "renouncing capitalisms dangerous conceits" and then on to "reclaiming the noble".

Section 2 is all about innovation. He sees innovation as hope and a cure for all the nasty he noted in the first section.

Section 3 "adaptability matters now" - something I have long advocated. The section inspired thought on how I could be more adaptable.

Section 4 - "Passion matters now"

So why did I like the book? It challenged me to think. It supported many of my views on leadership. It is well written. (and I learned a new word - fealty - our talents, treasure and people are a trust rather than just a means to personal gain)

What did I not like about it? There was a lot of "Leaders are bad people", "capitalists are bad" and even the title implies something awful like "relentless change". Perhaps some of my feeling here are misplaced guilt like the guilt I get for being a man when I read about a man doing something bad (and truthfully, it does seem that men do most of the bad stuff).