Monday, March 31, 2014


Read a book by Rich Horwath called Elevate - the Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking.

According the WSJ, strategic thinking is the most valued CEO skill.

Horwath starts with a discussion on why strategic thinking is critical.  And to usual list of reasons why it does not get the attention it needs.  He then quickly moves into his 3 disciplines.

First - Coalesce - fusing together insights to create an innovative business model.

Second - Compete.  Choose what strategies have competitive advantage (I am big on competitive advantage and view it as the cornerstone to success).

Third - Champion - Leading others to think and act strategically.  And execute the strategy.  (I have found often that implementation is what kills good strategy).

Good thought provoking book.

The main challenge I have with strategic thinking is dedicating the inspired time.  It is difficult to just say I will spend an hour on strategic thinking and come up with something brilliant.

But most of the problem with strategic thought happens because it is not urgent (although it is very important).  So like many important tasks, it can get pushed aside for the urgent.

Things I do to inspire strategic thought:

1 - read and research.  Without background, it is tough to come up with good strategies.

2 - Plant the seed.   I spend a 15-20 minutes trying to frame the challenge.  Then I leave it and go about my day, ideas come to me.  I often use this technique just before sleep as well.

3 - Log ideas.  I find ideas are sometimes lost but writing them down "saves" them.

4 - Set goals around doing it.  By setting goals and deadlines, I can artificially create urgency.


I thought this article on how time could be used better was awesome.


Interesting how colorful socks have "tipped" and seem to be the norm in the startup community.

See - a company owned by friends of mine.

Mark Fasciano's father was featured on CBS.  I have met Nick many times.  He is a true artist.

Rain last night turned into snow this morning.  And it is March 31 in NY of all places.  An early April Fools joke perhaps?

And the New York Times had a cover story on climate change.  I wonder if they had the article prepared and waited for a day such as this to release it.

Victoria turned one.  And she is smart enough to write upside down in the snow (snow which is acceptable in Canada but in NY?...)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Leading with Your Legacy in Mind

I seem to be reading a lot lately so am behind in posting my comments on the books I have read.

One of those is Living with Your Legacy in Mind: Building Lasting Value in Business and Life by Andrew Thorn.

One way to set goals is to write a document dated in the future.  For example "It is December 2020.  I just finished my 5 mile run which seemed easy now that I weigh...".  Thinking of how things will be in the future can help them to happen.  So titling a book with Legacy makes it interesting to me.  If more people thought in those terms, I daresay more people would think longer term.

I have long thought that balance is over rated and Thorn agrees.

Life + Leadership = Legacy  (this is the title of chapter 1)

I liked the title of chapter 14.  "From Success to Significance".  Something in my strives to significance.

I liked some of the inspiring stories included in the book.

Some quotes:

"Purpose gives us the focus we need in order to ensure that what we are doing is aligned with our priorities"

"Our Legacy cannot be measured by what we do; it can only be felt by those we serve"

Thorn is a PhD so clearly knows how to research and is literate (it surprises me the number of books I read or start to read where the author is not).

Good book.


I like Freakonomics.  I thought this podcast was interesting.  Apparently in Japan, houses are not a good investment.  On average, houses are torn down in 38 years (compared to 100 years in The US).

And as I enjoyed the first day of spring harvesting overwintered leeks from my garden, my brother enjoyed snow in Canada.  This is a picture he sent that he took from his front door.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Startup Leadership

I read a great book - Startup Leadership - How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn their Ideas into Successful Enterprises.  From the title, you can tell, it is right in my sweet spot (although increasingly I am thinking I should consider working more with companies that want to go from $50,000,000 to $250,000,000 or even $1B since there are less people with that have done that.

I loved the book purpose "to help entrepreneurs succeed".

One point the book makes that I completely agree with is "know yourself".  The better an entrepreneur knows themselves, the more likely they are to succeed.

It speaks about the 3 basics - Projects, Process and Culture.  I am a big believer in Process.  The ideal business is one where you can build a replicable process that can be scaled.  And the job of the leader is to constantly polish the process.

Good culture allows decisions to be made easily.  The larger the company, the more the leaders job is to "coach on culture" and let others make decisions.

There is a chapter titled "Organizing to Succeed". This is key to success.

I loved the appendices that include things like "Traits, skills and motivations  of a good entrepreneur" and "5 prerequisites for change".

The final chapter speaks of "selfless acts of entrepreneurism".  The gist of it is "work for the good of the company, the staff, the customers" to build a great company.  Entrepreneurial leaders selfishly help others.

It almost inspired me to start a new business - that is how good it is.
I knew chocolate was good for you.  Runners World has a new article on it.  I have a small investment in a chocolate company - Sweet Riot so buy theirs.

I have always had an interest in efficiency (hence my book on time management).  I have studied speed reading.  So I was interested when a friend sent me a link to Spritzing.  I have not used the app but will try it.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chris Hadfield - Canadian Astronaut.

I listened to and read Chris Hadfield's autobiography - An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth: What going to Space Taught me about Ingenuity, Determination and Being Prepared for Anything.  I took both the CDs and book from the library.  The CDs would be perhaps 10+ hours of listening and I had a lot of travel time but not quite that much so I also read part of it.  Hadfield narrated is own CD and he is a good reader.

I was totally inspired by it.  Hadfield is a great writer.  And of course the stories are gripping.

He is a driven person and part of the story emphasizes the importance of that.

To go to space requires a lot of study, preparation and planning.  That transfers to real life.  We succeed when we prepare to succeed.

Good book.  Highly recommended.


I visited my university professor daughter, Laura on the weekend.  She has recently moved to College Station Texas to accept a position at Texas A and M.

She published a lot.  Her article on punctuation was accessible.

I loved College Station - neat, clean, safe and very low cost.  I loved the campus.  Lots of new buildings, well kept, huge.  They had the biggest fitness facility I have ever seen that includes a 1/4 mile indoor track, multiple basketball courts, huge pool, 20+ squash and racquetball courts.

I like university towns.   They tend to be environmentally advanced.  I loved that there were many bike parking areas - often with air and even one with tools.

The new Canadian antispam law Bill C28 is interesting.  Because email is almost free, it has been overused.

At one time, I was stressed by spam.  I find Google tabs helps by sorting most of it out.  And when I actually analyzed it, I can actually deal with 50 spam messages in a couple of minute.  But often I cannot deal with a real email that requires action in less than 5-10 minutes.  So it is real email that creates workload.

There is a simple web questionnaire Canadian companies can use to see if they violate the new spam laws.  Try it here.

And for those enjoying this weather.  Josh and Victoria are.

Monday, March 03, 2014

No Who - No Do

I had feedback on my last post - See Do Time Management System.  I was reminded that this can simply allow someone to spend their time doing busy work and never get to the important tasks.

Earlier I wrote a post on Good Procrastination.  See Do meshes with that.

Mostly what I was trying to inspire is good habits when there were NOT other more important things to do.  Inspire good habits even when you are tired and would otherwise waste time.

So - how to avoid this trap?

1 - Know your priorities and set specific times and places where you deal only with those things.  At those times - no See Do.

2 - When I am busy, I only See Do things I can do in 10 seconds or less.  If I am less busy, I might do 2 minute task.  So limiting and leaving things that take longer is one technique.

3 - Clean an area.  I used to move everything to my credenza (behind my desk) so they were not screaming "do me - do me".

4 - Have a To Do list.  One way to keep things from cluttering the mind is to write them down.  So sometimes rather than See Do, it is See and add to the To Do list.

Other ideas?

I was in a board meeting recently and a the topic of starting a new initiative came up.  Companies always need to have new initiatives or they will fade long term.  So there was an idea and appropriately, it was raised "who wants to champion this".

The point was made - No Who - No Do.  Every new initiative needs a passionate champion to move things forward.

The Time Management equivalent of this could be No When - No Do.  Projects move forward when there is a specific time set to do the project.

My brother Lyle and I both have Fitbit's.  He mentioned it is genius to use the power of peer pressure to get people to be healthy.   That works well for Lyle and I since we are both naturally competitive.  Too bad he cannot keep up with me.

Speaking of Lyle, he is a successful author (or storyteller).  He is doing an event in Brooklyn on Slow Money on March 20th from 6 to 8 PM.