Thursday, June 27, 2013

Perfectionism Hurts Productivity

This morning I was feeling Blogger guilt.  That is what happens when a blogger does not feel they are posting often enough.  As I thought about it and looked at some notes on possible blog entries I was working on, I realized the reason I was not posting was perfectionism (even though this blog is far from perfect - just ask some of my proof reading friends (and I do greatly appreciate it when a reader points out something that needs fixing).
I was trying to coach a friend on time management and sent him the following email:
When I have skills I need to master, I set myself up with a deliberate learning system.  Some things I have done that work for me:

1 - I take every book on the topic that there is out of the library.

2 - as I read, I write notes.  I know you know how to study - you have a PhD. 

3  - I take CDs out.  I often have some car time that I am not on the phone and even with short trips to work, I can get through some.  And I also listen on some of my exercise (this is actually a time management trick - the power of while)

4 - Spend 25 minutes per day studying the skill.  It sounds like little time but it quickly adds up.  (Interestingly, this is also a time management technique that I have found effective - the Pomodoro system.  Look it up and see if it might be one you try)

5 - meet with mentors.  You do not need a formal mentoring program - just ask people you think who might have something to teach you.  Pick up a few tips.

6 - repeating over and over that "I am not a good time manager" simply reinforces it in your mind.  It also gives you an excuse "oh - don't mind me, I am always late".  Change your self talk to "that's not like me...".  Sounds crazy but it really does work.
7 - attend seminars
8 - sign up for time management blogs and newsletters.  (interestingly, at one time, more than half my blog entries were on time management - hence the blog name - Time Leadership)

I was not always good at itt.  That is why I ended up writing a book on Time Management.  It all started with a learning project.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The CEO Code

I read a book by David Rohlander - The CEO Code - Create a Great Company and Inspire People to Greatness with Practical Advice from an Experienced Executive.

The title says it all.  Rohlander is a highly experienced executive with lots of great gems.

I liked that the first section was on communication - clearly one of the key CEO needs.  It was further broken into sections on trust, respect, understanding, empathy and resolution.  Each chapter elaborates and delves into those topics.

Each chapter had a "Take time to reflect" series of questions which add greatly to the content.  I find reflecting on questions to be a great way to really get value from what I have read.

Part II is on execution and that one has a chapter on my favorite topic - habit.  It also had a chapter on action which I think is one of the things that separates the truly great from the mediocre.

Part III finished on operations.  The operations section had a great chapter on systems.  I am a big believer that the systems and processes a company has in place help them to grow and "do things right".

It had a great interview checklist with questions that I think I will start using as I interview people.  This, alone, makes the book worthwhile.

Excerpts from the book:

The blessing of being outdone by the competition is it provides you with an opportunity to "go to school".  How did they beat you?  What did they do better than you?  What will you do to eliminate or minimize their appeal and maximize your own?...Good competition will make everyone better.

The foundation for your goals is based on clarifying your values.  Your personal life and your professional life will be most fulfilling when the basis of all your actions and decisions is grounded in your values.

 Good book - worth reading.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Small Stories - Big Changes

 My brother, Lyle has his latest book out.  He is a real author with a real publisher.   I have reviewed his previous books Biodiesel Power, Small is Possible and Industrial Evolution.

The book is about sustainability and came the same day the NY Times ran an article on the mass forced movement of population from farms to cities in China.  What a contrast.

This book - Small Stories - Big Changes is actually a series of chapters - each written by different authors.   Lyle knits them all together.  Lyle is a great writer/story teller.  Doing the book this way did not let him get as much of his story telling out (although he did tell of going to a potluck with squirrel roadkill as his contribution - OK you really need to read it to get the full gist of it).

I like books written this way because you can put them down anytime and start a new chapter.  So it is like a series of short, self contained stories.  And of course I read it cover to cover in one sitting because it interested me.

I sense the book is meant to inspire and it does.  Each author tells of their own small part they do to help the environment and help create a sustainable world.   One quote from Mother Theresa was included which sums some of it up "We can do no great things - just small thing with great love".  And it is the small things that add up.

I worry that there can be a snobbery even in the sustainability world where people look down on others as "not being real green".  One of the authors tells of a government meeting where she was proud to have bought a Prius (this is what I drive too but I drive the Prius C so am even more friendly (See - I can snob too)) and one of the committee members was berating her for a Prius not really helping much.

Two of the chapters were written by family.  Glen, my brother, wrote about Sky Generation complete with the intrigue of the anti green Power Workers Union hiring a big PR firm to spread untruths about wind power and nuclear. 

My niece, Jessalyn, wrote about her Greenteam ad agency experiences.  Her chapter had some of the best humor - like her adventures looking for an apt in NYC and learning to ask the right questions like "does a 2 bedroom really mean 2 bedroom or do we have to buy a wall?" and "is the bathroom really separate or is it in one of the bedrooms?".

Of course I am biased but I think it is a great book.  Good work Lyle.

And blog posts from some companies I have invested in are interesting:

From Organimi

From Primal Fusion - a new Wordpress plugin(who always are incredibly insightful)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ambiverts win - Daniel Pink at World Innovation Forum.

I have blogged often about one of my favorite writers and speakers - Daniel Pink.  I wrote a review of his book a Whole New Mind.    And I shared one of his videos.  And blogged when I last hear him speak live.

I guess you could say I am a bit of a Daniel Pink groupie.

Today he spoke about sales - a topic near to my heart.  The quotes below are what Pink said (although sometimes paraphrased because I can only type so fast.)

"Management consultants get paid by the syllable.    So they coined the word "Disintermediation"".

In 2000, 1 in 9 people worked in sales.  13 years later - social media, smart phones, cloud computing, tablets etc.  But 2013 we still have 1 in 9.  So why would this be?  Pink has the theory that in 2000, many of the people who were not "classified" as being in sales actually were. 

"Like it or not - we are all in sales".  So why are people embarrassed to say they are in sales?  Pink did a 7,000 person survey asking.  "What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of sales?"  He took the top adjectives (since they denote an opinion and most nouns are just synonyms).  "Pushy, hard, yuck, annoying, manipulative, sleazy, tough, challenging, uncomfortable etc   4:1 ratio of negative to positive."  Hence people do not want to say they are in sales.

"This view is completely wrong".  "Most of what we know about sales comes from a world where there is information asymmetry - the seller always knew more and the buyers had few choices and had little voice.  The world of buyer beware.  This asymmetry is being shifted though.  Much more power is now in the hands of a buyer.  We are close to information parity."

He cited the case of buying a new car.  The buyers now know the costs.  So now it is a world of seller beware.  The world has changed.  Social media also amplifies this since buyers have power to have a voice if a seller if the seller makes any perceived mistake.

"The old ABC of selling was Always Be Closing - now it is Attunement, Bouyancy, Clarity.  Attunement is about being able to see the others point of view.  Bouyancy is stay positive. And Clarity is identify problems."

"If a buyer knows precisely the problem, they can solve their own problem.  So the new skill has shifted from problem solving to problem identifying. " 

"In general people of high power take their own perspective (not empathizing) but people of low power see the others'view.  Why?  Low power people survive by pleasing and understanding others.  So increase your effectiveness by reducing your power."

"Extroverts are more likely to go into sales but there is almost no correlation between sales success and extroversion.  Ambiverts actually are the best sales people.  What is an ambivert?  People who are some of both (Introvert and Extrovert) - near the middle.  (Interestingly, I am near the middle of the scale when I do the Meyers Briggs test - just like most people are).  So the message in sales is "be more like yourself". 

Pink did give a marketing example.  People were sent a personal letter to donate that has a specific and easy way to act.  From those predisposed - huge response in his test (44%) compared to only 8% when the the letter was general "dear student". 

Those who were not got a 0 response rate when they were not predisposed to a general letter (as expected).  Those who were predisposed responded in 8% of the cases to the general letter. 

But the results were 25% and 44% to specific letters.  Clearly specific and personal asks work in marketing.  (This is one reason Karma works so well for fundraising)

We overstate the persons disposition but context predicts behavior.  Personal and specific asks work.

When the facts are on your side - ask questions.   When people have their own reasons they believe them more strongly.  Best example of this is Regan "are you better off today than you were 4 years ago". 

The caution - if the answer is not the answer you want then the question backfires in a bigger way.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sustainable Business - Good for Business

At World Innovation Forum, Harvard's Rebecca Henderson spoke about sustainable business.

She used one of my favorite phrases - "Change is Opportunity" and she did emphasize that change is happening. 

She recognized that businesses need business cases in order to fully embrace environment and sustainability.  She laid out 4 plausible cases:

1 - Save Money.  Of course any company will implement something that saves money.  So do the analysis.  The best initiatives save money and feel good at the same time.  Often the best environmental initiative is about using less which often saves money.

2 - Securing Supply and Protecting the Brand.  I was surprised she lumped these into the same point.  Her point was the public owns the power of the press.  So being a "good", "clean" company protects brand.  The point on securing supply was making things sustainable ensured supply.  EG - a hardwoods company will have not hardwood if they are not buying sustainably grown product (Like UCFP)

3 - New Business.  Of course in any change, there are new business opportunities.  This can be anything from waste recovery firms, energy auditors, conservation, solar, wind to Zipcar.

4 - Insurance.  Sustainability is insurance against disaster.

She did make a point that new initiatives needed different incentives, expectations and nurturing.

Some quotes:

"Lead with values - Manage from the Heart"
"Speaking about values is inspirational"
"Talking about values builds trust"
"Values create the "why" that is necessary for change"
"Talking about values in public is the right thing to do"

World Innovation Forum - The Pressure to be Insightful

I am spending the day in NYC at World Innovation Forum.  I am a "blogger" so get to sit in the press gallery.  At the same time, there is high pressure to be insightful in Tweets (#wif2013) and Blogs.  And there will be lots of blog posts today.

I spend some of my time on short term issues and some on longer term.  I consider going to a seminar day like today as a "long term" use of time.  It inspires me. 

Being outside of my usual busy day allows me to reflect.  And having speakers to inspire thought is a great way to do it.  I have some of my best ideas on days like this.  And increasingly I realize that one of my primary strengths is creativity and ideas.  I am a big believer that my greatest value happens when I spend time in my primary strength areas.  And polishing strengths is a great way to gain competitive advantage.

The event is put on by WOBI - short for World of Business Ideas.  They know how to put on a good event.  The speaker line up is impressive:

Mauro Porcini - Design Thinker at 3M.  He is speaking now.  He is a good energetic speaker to start the day.

Michael Martin- Marketing and Strategy (a high interest topic for me)

Rebecca Henderson - (Co-director of the Business and Environment Initiative at Harvard)  Building sustainable Organizations

Daniel Pink (one of my favorite authors/thinkers)

And lots more.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Just some Pictures.

Strawberries are on at home.  This picture does not do justice to the quantity and certainly not to the taste.  There is no comparison between store bought and home grown strawberries.
And the grandkids - Josh and Victoria continue to grow.

So does this count as a 3000 word blog post?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Eulogy to Charles Waywell

My beloved father in law passed away 2 days ago.   It was 2 weeks before his 97th birthday.  He was reasonable healthy up until the last couple of months.

He did lead a long and full life but it is still very sad.

He was a professor at the University of Guelph in Horticulture for all of his adult life.   He did make some money in real estate by renovating homes and renting to students.

A few years after his wife died, he remarried (I think he was about 80) to Mary who was also his age.  He then moved to Victoria, BC.  He had lived in his house for almost 50 years so moving was a chore.  I still remember him (at age 80) trying to fit his bicycle in his car for the 4200 Km trip.

Mary is the nicest, most gracious person you could ever know.  She is still living in the home they shared in Victoria.  Yes - Charles lived in his own home to the end.

In his later years he talked a lot about his time overseas in World War II.  He served in the Saskali (Saskatoon Light Infantry).  He had lots of stories about Italy and Holland and even returned a number of years ago to a reunion in Holland.

He liked to learn.  He was well read and well informed right up to the end.   Always sharing a tidbit of information or asking me which way the stock market was going.

He will be missed.