Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Transformative CEO

I am traveling.  Mini-brothers' weekend.  Lots of cards, some walking (but a bit too sedentary compared to other weekends we have done).   Solving the problems of the world - climate change, wealth gaps, unemployment.  And solving the micro problems in our lives - business challenges mostly.

Cannot beat family for candor and fun.

I highly advocate the tradition of sibling get togethers - especially if there is a geographic distance separation.


And looking forward to a father daughter get together.  And of course Josh (I have to include him on my blog posts so he does not feel left out)
I read a great little book - The Transformative CEO - Impact Lessons from Industry Game Changers by Jeffrey Fox and Robert Reiss. 

It is a 30 chapter book (short chapters).  Each one is around one topic of CEO leadership.  After a short description of the attribute, 3 or 4 real CEO's comment. 

For example:

Chapter 5 is "Put Culture First and Forever".  The chapter describes that winning culture is one of the three pillars to business success (marketing and innovation are the other 2). 

Bernie Marcus (Founding Home Depot CEO) then comments on that explaining how culture is critical to Home Depot success.

Tony Hsish (CEO of Zappos) commented "Lots of companies have core values, but they usually end up on posters on the wall that nobody ever looks at.  Zappos has 10 core values and we make sure everyone in the company has those core values, and lives them."

Jim McCann (CEO of 1-800-Flowers and a personal friend of mine) said "It is tough to maintain your culture as you job is to be our cultural engineer"

And then Ayn LePlant (CEO, Beekley Corp) also voiced her opinions on culture.

Each chapter is similar on a different topic.  And there is an impressive list of CEO's commenting - 44 in total.

And my comments on culture.  I found, the larger the company, the more my role as CEO was simply to coach on culture but let everyone else make decisions.  If the decisions were within the right culture, then this was the only way to scale the business.

I also learned that changing culture is hard and requires huge thought and persistence.  Company cultures have huge inertia.  Overcome that inertia if you want to make change is the key. 

So why would any CEO want to change their company culture?  It can be because growth or market changes require a change.  And it often is needed when there are mergers or acquisitions.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do the Most Important Thing First Thing

I heard once and practiced for years "do the worst thing first thing".  I credited that habit to my success. I even created 2 and sometimes 3 first things - first thing in the morning and first thing after lunch.  That habit started because often the worst thing required me to speak to someone and I often started my day before people were available.

I would have rules like I would only spend 15 minutes doing it.  Partly this was to reduce the dread factor of getting into it.  I can do anything for 15 minutes.  And of course in 90% of the cases, I would either finish the task in 15 minutes or stick with it longer than the 15 minutes and get it done.

I have also made a habit of examining why I think something is the worst thing and devising ways of not having to do it in the future or making it easier to do.

Lately, I have decided to change this habit to "Do the most important thing first thing".  What I was finding was what I thought was the worst thing was actually administrative and fairly unimportant.  Does not have the same poetic ring to it but I suspect it will have better results.

And the creative marketing idea of the day goes to one of my investee companies - Soletron.  The founder/CEO, A. J. Steigman, is a chess master and he has challenged  billionaire chess master Peter Thiel to a $1,000,000 invest in my company match.  It is getting tons of press everywhere.

And speaking of press, my son, David of Estill Energy had an editorial published in the Mercury.  Of course the article is on energy.

A young friend, Dan Hammill,  just visited from Alberta and shared with my SEO company some ideas on video marketing.  Dan is only 20 but has a Youtube channel that has had an impressive 3,000,000 views!  Check out his recent video.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When a holiday is not a holiday

Just a week and a bit ago, I was on the Pacific ocean watching bald eagles, sea lions, whales, and harbour seals.  It was pristine wilderness.  Now I am back in the business race.

Most white collar workers - especially entrepreneurs can not really take a holiday.  The emails, calls and volume does not stop just because they go away.  At best they can plan a bit for it.  I am convinced this is why many of us take our email with us (so the volume is less when we return)

And for me, I often do holidays that tire me out more than usual.  EG on my Haida Gwaii fishing holiday, I was up most days by 5:30 and never even done dinner before 10:30.  And travel is also more tiring for some reason than the activity would seem.

I found after my fishing trip, it took me a week to dig out of the things that were not done because I was away.  Fortunately, it was 4th of July week so normal volume was low.  So I did get on top of things.

So what is the lesson?  I am not sure - perhaps plan life with a few more "spaces" so there is more time?

For true relaxation, I need to learn to leave the buzz behind when I vacation.

Now Josh on the other hand seems to have no problem staying on top of his work.   And yes the flowers are big (it is Butchart Gardens in Victoria where he went for a holiday with his parents)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

How to Meet Your Daily Goals

This is a guest post by Jessica Edmondson

We’ve all been there – that moment when accomplishing a set of daily goals seems about as likely as winning the lottery while vacationing on the sunny shores of the French Riviera. Truth is, every morning there are a thousand obstacles just waiting to keep you from accomplishing what’s really important.

Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks that can help you focus on the tasks that need your full attention so you can have a productive day. With the proper perspective and a little perseverance, you can develop lifelong habits that will serve as a blueprint to success.

Accomplishing any set of daily goals begins with understanding that you must have priorities. You only have so many hours in a day and you simply can’t do everything. The sooner you accept this, the quicker you can learn to focus your attention on the truly important jobs.

·      Make a List: Sometimes it helps to list your priorities so you’ll have a visual reference to help you manage your daily goals and budget some time for each project. Having a list also helps you identify tasks that aren’t vital – delegate those tasks if necessary or just cross them off the list. But make sure you also keep your mind free of those tasks; otherwise they may still distract you from accomplishing what’s really important.

·      Set Some Goals: After you’ve identified the areas in which to concentrate your efforts, you need to set specific goals. This will help keep you focused and give you a sense of accomplishment when you reach certain milestones. Do you want to write 1,000 words for your new book? Maybe you’d like to make 10 proper introductions to prospective clients. Or perhaps send out a week’s worth of invoices.  

·      Aim to Accomplish: Whatever you need to accomplish, make sure your goals are attainable and reasonable. If you set yourself up for failure, it’s easy to lose focus and get sidetracked. Setting achievable goals will help you realize a sense of accomplishment and encourage repeat performances.

·      Stay on Task: While prioritizing and setting goals can be pretty straightforward, the final step can be challenging, especially in today’s fast-paced, hectic world. To give yourself the best chance at accomplishing your daily goals, you have to learn to remove interruptions from your work time. If you let little distractions dictate how you spend your day, you’ll be surprised how much time will be wasted.

Even when you’re comfortably seated in front of your computer and ready to work, the ability to waste time on the Internet is just a click away. Sure, your friend probably has a bunch of cute baby pictures on his or her Facebook page. You have to avoid this temptation. Before you know it, you’ll be checking sports scores or looking for a daily cartoon to give you a chuckle. Then the morning’s half gone and now you’re pressed to accomplish more in even less time.

By following these simple steps you’ll begin to develop a productive routine that can shape your work habits for years to come. And like anything else, the more you practice, the better you’ll become.

Have you developed a system that allows you to focus your efforts on accomplishing a set of tasks? What tips would you offer for achieving daily goals?

This guest post was provided by Jessica Edmondson who writes about Leadership and Business Administration for the University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education, Inc.


Monday, July 02, 2012

Haida Gwaii Fishing

I am just back from a week fishing in Northern British Columbia.  I love the beauty of the wilderness (and it is wilderness - like 30 minute helicopter ride into a camp from the small town of Masset which is already a 2 hour flight north of Vancouver).  I lead a charmed life to be able to do this.

Fishing was not as good as previous years but I still will have enough to eat for the year.  150 lbs of salmon (I catch fish in pounds instead of KG but I run in kilometers), 70 lbs of halibut and 25 lbs combined of sole, rock cod and yellow eye.

Most of the time it was rainy and cool (like not quite snowing but you did need to wear a full mustang suit with a hat and gloves cool).  Sitting on the boat in the rain, I was loving it and remembering there is no such thing as bad weather - just improper clothing.

It is light for more than 19 hours each day up there so breakfast at 5:30, out on the water at 6, second breakfast on the water at 10, lunch back at the lodge at 1, snacks on the water then back to the lodge about 7:30 for dinner.  Bottomline - lots of eating and not any exercise to speak of.  And the food included too many "bad for you things".  So now I need to kick into workout/proper eating gear.

It reminds me of a technique I use to remind myself to eat right.  I have a trigger.  When I feel sore muscles, it reminds me to eat moderately.  So I deliberately work different muscle groups so I can have constant reminders.  I can easily work my muscles to soreness with pushups (50 does it), tricep dips, lunges or squats.  I can do it on ab exercises but not as easily.  And I like "good" sore muscles.

Fishing gives me time to reflect.  I wrote a post on the power of reflective thinking after another fishing trip.


Proud Father note.

My son David of Estill Energy was elected to the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.

And coming back from fishing, I notice how fast I am and how fast the world is.  I thought this infographic was interesting:

Instant America
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