Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shackelton Endurance

Endurance -the story of Shackleton's ill fated attempt to reach the south pole was gripping. I listened to it on audio while on one of those long car rides where it was more efficient to drive than fly. I find a 5 hour drive is about break even to flying by the time you drive to the airport, wait for security lines, wait for the flight, fly for an hour, get a car etc and then you have to depend on the flight schedules. (Not true of course when flying private but the economics are way different).

I was excited to receive a copy of Leading at the edge - Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition.

At the same time Endurance set off to conquer the south pole, the Karluk set off to conquer the North Pole. Both ships were stranded in ice. Both sets of explorers had to endure unbelievable hardship. But, Shackleton's group pulled together. It was a story of sacrifice, teamwork and loyalty. The Karluk explorers drifted into theft, deception, lying, and mutiny.

This book delves into the why. How did Shackleton do it? From this, they derive the following 10 leadership lessons.

1. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal, and focus energy on short-term objectives.

2. Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behaviors.

3. Instill optimism and self-confidence, but stay grounded in reality.

4. Take care of yourself: Maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.

5. Reinforce the team message constantly: "We are one- we live or die together."

6. Minimize status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.

7. Master conflict- deal with anger in small doses, engage dissidents, and avoid needless power struggles.

8. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.

9. Be willing to take big risks.

10. Never give up-there's always another move.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Brand Real

I love Branding. Brand to a company is like reputation is to a person. Like reputation - it can be invaluable and like reputation, it can be easily destroyed.

Reputation requires consistency. Brand does also.

I read Laurence Vincent's book - Brand Real - How Smart Companies Live Their Brand Promise and Inspire Fierce Customer Loyalty. I liked the cover "Ingredients of Success Hype 0%, Trendiness 0%, Gimmicks 0%, authenticity 100% and Experience 100%"

Vincent talks about brand identity (how the brand looks and feels - like logo, color, name, slogan etc) and brand behavior (what brands do and why it matters). Many people who think brand think about the former but it is the latter that really matters.

"Real brands make promises that they keep". And this is why we pay more for trusted brands. We like consistency and good brands (like many franchises) deliver that comfort. Consistency in many cases is worth more than being great.

I like to think I am a sophisticated consumer who is not influenced by marketing and brand. Not true. I will often buy from someplace I know will treat me fairly even without trying somewhere else.

I liked the chapter on "Brand Inside - Why People are the Key to your Branding Strategy". It is the people but it is also to training, coaching, mentoring, tools and processes that are in place to make the people great and consistent with the brand.

The gist of the book - work on what your brand really stands for.

Good book - worth reading.


New technology - speech jamming. I will get worried when people start bringing them to meetings with me.


The red eye light on the camera causes both Josh and I to look stunned.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Find Your Next

I read "Find Your Next" subtitled "Using the Business Genome Approach to Find Your Company's Next Competitive Edge" by Andrea Kates.

I loved the title. I am a big believer in competitive advantage. And my "know yourself" attitude makes me gravitate to things that help me determine my advantages.

Find Your Next presents an organized way to do this. They call it a genome that consists of 6 parts:

1 - Product or Service innovation. Find what resonates.
2 - Customer impact. Does your community support it?
3 - Process Design. Align the how with the customer need. This can be execution.
4 - Talent and Leadership - It is about the culture.
5 - Secret Sauce. What is your differentiation.
6 - Trendability. Look to the future. What are the trends and can you capitalize on them.

The book is a how to, step by step guide that asks a lot of questions. I did not follow the process through for any particular company - rather, I read the book (so likely did not get the same value someone would who actually took the steps and did the exercises)

One of my all time favorite books is Blue Ocean Strategy. Find Your Next strikes me as being a perfect companion book to that. Find Your Next is the how to guide for Blue Ocean.


And Canrock Ventures web company (not all of them - just the web properties) updates:

Honestlynow has re-iterated a few times (as expected in a start up) to the point where the user experience is great. This is sort of a dear Abby online (the link goes to a blog post on why we invested in it and also will give insight in general into why we did all of these).

LoadnVote is still early and will need to iterate more. They are getting good traffic though and we think the site has viral potential.

American Health Journal struggles. This is a site with almost 4,000 high quality video interviews with doctors on everything from "are there degrees of alcohol abuse" to "How can you tell if you are having a stroke" etc. The challenge is that Google cannot tell that the videos are high quality and they also can only read words so do not really know the topics except for what is written in the description. And the competition to be found on medical topics is high. I am convinced through persistence, this site will end up making their numbers.

Hitfix thrives. People love their entertainment news.

I have mixed feelings that these sites might be creating more time waste and I am adding to it (except for American Health Journal). Conflicts with being the time management guy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Take the Stairs

Take the Stairs - 7 Steps to Achieving True Success is book by Rory Vaden.

I agree wholeheartedly with his point of view. Don't just take the easy way - take the way that has the best results long term. As the title suggests - take the stairs rather then the escalator or elevator (a habit I do 80% of the time if it is less then 4 flights (and often the other is because I do not know where the stairs are))

His seven steps:

1 - Sacrifice. I do not like the wording since it seems like a punishment. The gist of it is - do tough things now for the success it yields in the long term. Like one of my success mantras "Successful people do tough things".

2 - Commitment. It is our decision what we commit to. The greater the commitment, the great the chance of success.

3 - Focus. He really nailed this one. This is an area that I personally am not good at. I tend to want it all so focus on everything (and I don't think that is what he means by good focus)

4 - Integrity. Speaks for itself.

5 - Schedule. Create a schedule that meets all your needs. To some extent this also touches on success habits.

6 - Faith - Put faith into enjoyable results, not enjoyable processes. (goes a bit against the zen I try for which is enjoying the process. Although in the end, I would not be happy without the results)

7 - Action. You are much more likely to act your way into healthy thinking than think yourself into healthy action. In the end, it is the actions - not the thoughts that make things happen.

I loved the chapter on procrastination. Some quotes:

"When we have diluted focus, we get diluted results"
"In the absense of disciplined focus, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia."
"We don't pay attention to things we don't first give our intention to."

I am up early today because my sleep got thrown off yesterday. No - not the time change - Elizabeth and I voluntarily went fishing. Boat left at 4 which was really 3 with the time change so I was up at 2. On the ocean for 13 hours. And we have enough fish for the month. 5 dogfish (small sharks), one ling and one 20 pound pollack.

I dried a bit - fish jerky, one of life's healthy pleasures.

So is this sort of like taking the stairs? I could just buy fish like everyone else. Saves me to fishing, they cutting, the freezing etc.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Imgur Infographics

I follow trends and one trend I see the the trend towards infographics.

Check out this infographic from Imgur produced by the Gap Partnership on Twitter Tips for Time Management. It includes things like:

1 - best time to tweet to get retweeted is 5 o'clock.

2 - tips like "prior to opening up Twitter, decide how much time you are going to spend on it" (this is a good tip for any "idle" task like Honestlynow, LoadnVote, TV, video games etc.)

3 - Twitter is adding 500,000 users per day. Seems incredible.

4 - Average emails sent and received is up in 2011 to 228 from 142 in 2007.

5 - Set aside "batches of time" to tweet. (another good time management idea - group similar tasks together - means you only sign in once, you are faster because you get into a speed pattern, saves cleanup (if you are doing things like cooking, painting etc.)

Stats courtesy of The Gap Partnership.