Archive for the ‘good advice’ Category

Think of every idea or suggestion you receive for your business as a person handing you cash.

Every suggestion that you receive has some worth. Maybe your spouse suggested you wear a different tie or necklace for a meeting instead of the one you chose, and it was a better suggestion. That’s a quick $1.

The barista at the coffee shop suggested you take a different route to get to a meeting downtown because you said you were worried about the traffic. Take it as $5 in your pocket if it saves you time, $20 if your competition ends up shows late. Think of it as a loss of money if the new route actually makes you late.

And everyday that million dollar idea for your company is just waiting to be born from a spark of creativity from any one of your employees, co-workers or partners. In the meantime, you’ll settle for a $100 idea here, and a $50 idea there, especially if you are a small business.

So if ideas and suggestions amount to ‘free money’ being handed to you, would there ever be a case where you would turn it down? If the person giving you the idea had some strings attached that made the money not only ‘not free,’ but put you in a situation where you were uncomfortable or at a serious disadvantage, you’d would politely take the idea ‘in consideration’ and do your best to distance yourself from the person and their idea.

Now that you’ve gotten a good grasp of ideas as dollars, take a day to observe how much free cash you are tossing in the dumpster instead of using to make into actual capital. Also keep an eye on how much political capital you are floundering throughout the workplace in the process.

When that quiet guy from IT came to you with an idea early in a process for you to consider. When a new secretary pointed out an issue she has with her new job that was fixed at an old job with a simple and easy solution. When that intern asked, ‘Why would anybody want to buy that,’ and was honestly confused by what seemed like batches of outdated processes. These are example of investors in your company, people with money already in the game, who want nothing more than to see even more success from you, scrapping together real money to put into your product, not shrugging off some pocket change and hoping for the best.

If an investor came to you with $1,000 with no strings attached, other than to use the money for something benefiting the company, could you use it for something? Would you find a way to accept it?

It might not be that million dollar idea being offered up to you, but every suggestions is worth something. Remember that, and make sure you are getting your money’s worth from each and every idea that comes your way.

If you think you’re not getting enough opportunities, take a look at how many opportunities you are offering to others. Sometimes, a completely random idea that will do absolutely nothing for you could mean the absolute world to a friend or co-worker if you offered it and you help with it up to them does. Gestures like this will help you immensely gain more opportunities by:

Telling The Universe ‘I Wants Mine Back…’: Jump starting opportunistic karma is a very good thing, as you tend to get back as much or more of whatever you give, for good or for ill. So think of every idea you get that will help out a friend or coworker more than it will help you as a seed planted that will reap a harvest of greater opportunities for yourself in a few seasons.

Helping You See & Appreciate Opportunities As They Appear: Guess what? You’re probably wasting great opportunities daily. You’ll really grasp just how often an opportunity actually passes right by you as you see the people you offer up opportunities to pass you right by. Just like solid advice, most people are oblivious to when to jump on a general good thing because it didn’t descend from the heavens in the form of stone tablets and bonk them on the head…and even that might not be obvious enough for some. If people take you up on your offers a quarter of the time, you’re rocking Major League Baseball MVP numbers.

Making Your Our Opportunities: If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, you are more than entitled to increase your own luck and the luck of others at anytime you please. Offering up chances to help other advance is the perfect way for other to gain chances to help you in return. Just don’t take on the job of ‘opportunity maker’ with the mindset of ‘mafia boss enforcer.’ It’s not a straight up one-for-one deal.

With Labor Day coming to us in the U.S. this Monday as the unofficial end of summer and the first holiday of the fall, now is a good time to review your personal ‘time-off’ policy. And even if you’re a workaholic with to many open projects (like myself), you still need to find some time to get away from the work that you do, and more importantly, all the work going on around you, to keep yourself sane (or relatively sane, as in my case).

Try working this three pronged approach of scheduling time off:

Schedule Some Time Off To Take Care Of ‘Overflow’: You can get away from normal business and the chaos of those working around you so that you can take care of a few things, work related or personal, uninterrupted. It’s not really a vacation, but it gets you away to accomplish some important things that can relieve some of your personal stress. Just make sure you eliminate as many personal distractions as possible and get the work you’re getting away to get done done.

Schedule Some Time Off To Take Time Off…And Then Take That Time Off: This is your set up for a real vacation, away from any serious work. Don’t try to force yourself into having a good time by getting stuck to an itinerary, and don’t feel guilty if while inside some relaxation time your mind comes up with a clever idea to fix that nagging problem you left at the office. Jot it down quickly, then set it aside to deal with when you get back to the office.

Schedule Some Time Off To Review Where You Are: This one is pretty simple, and doesn’t need HR involvement. Set aside a regularly scheduled time and location where you can do a quick overview of tasks, goals, and maybe even life. It can be as simple as getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning, having lunch with just your notebook on a Thursday, or a full weekly review on Saturday morning.

More that a few blogs I have scanned in the past few weeks have had some mini discussion revolving around the Peter Principle, which got me thinking about an opposite phenomena: people who get promoted to a level where their lack of competency should be obvious, yet they thrive and even grow.

People who know that they’re not smart enough for a job, but are able to seemingly get the job done do a few common things:

– they don’t go around pretending that they are actually smart enough for the job
– they don’t go around telling people they aren’t smart enough for the job either, and
– they don’t do anything to actively piss off those people that make sure they get the job done, despite not being smart enough

It’s akin to an NFL quarterback buying all of his offensive linemen expensive diamond watches at the end of the season for them not letting him get hurt. Take care of the people that make you seem like the wizard you are not, and watch how far you can go.


Expedia.com

Expedia.com

Today, I will give you a five step plan on how to solve just about any problem. I’m calling this plan, for obvious reasons, “The Overly Simplified Way To Solve Your Problems In Just Five Steps”

Step 1: See that you have a problem.

Step 2: Say, “I have a problem.”

Step 3: Do something about the problem.

Step 4: If problem persists, do something different about the problem.

Step 5: If problem persists, repeat step 4 until you have solved the problem

Overly simplified, but simple enough that you get the point.



Tom’s Shoes: Buy A Pair, Give A Pair

When you are bitten by a bug, there is a certain amount of time that you just have to live through before the itching and swelling of that bite goes away. Rubbing and scratching the bite will only prolong the experience, the discomfort that comes with it and the time needed to heal. But eventually, the swelling will subside, the rash will fade, and the itching stops.

The same general thing happens when you are bitten by an ‘idea bug.’ Once a new idea come to mind, you’ve got a limited amount of time before you lose the adrenaline rush to put the idea in motion, and possibly lose the idea itself to the million of other thoughts that get processed through your mind on a daily basis.

And just like there are steps to take to help alleviate the suffering from an actual bug bite (don’t touch it, apply some medicated cream, take a pill, etc.), there are steps you can take to prolong the jolt of inspiration of your ‘idea bug’ bite:

1: Write It Down IMMEDIEATELY! – Never let an idea just dissipate from your memory. Just because the ideas are flowing now, doesn’t mean you’ll never go through an idea dry spell and need to look back on a few filed away ideas for inspiration. Write the details of your idea as simply or as detailed as they came to you, and place it somewhere you can routinely review it, lest you waist the effort of preserving it in the first place. Create an idea bank for storing randomly created ideas in a file folder, shoe box, computer file–whatever will work best for you. You can even carry a portable notebook to jot down ideas as they come if you are prone to attract idea bugs.

2: Order Your Steps – Make a quick determination on just how complicated your idea is and just how much work will be involved in your attempt to actually make it happen. Come up with a quick, easy to follow outline of all the steps involved that you can think of, and determine how long you think it will take to get the project started and completed.

3: Gauge Your Timing – Determine if this is the actual right time or place to attempt to work out the kinks in your idea. Let’s use the example of your idea being a ski stunt you would like to attempt and master. If you are nowhere near water or snow, chances are you won’t be working on the stunt by mid-morning. And if you have to lose ten pounds and get in shape before you can even attempt your stunt, that’s just more prep time needed before the attempt. If now is not the right time or you’re not in the right place, schedule a time in the future when you can assure all the conditions are acceptable to make an attempt at your idea. If your idea is not that involved or complicated, and you believe you can work on it now with minimum interruptions, and you are ready for the challenge, then jump on in.

4: Start At Your Earliest Convenience – The average person has about 48 hours or so from the initial formation of a new idea before they lose interest in it completely. And if they don’t take the time to write it down, they could lose the entire idea minutes after they came up with it. It is important to put your plan in motion for you idea as soon as possible, or schedule a time in the near future to get started, with plenty of incentive to get back to it.

How do you really know when you have stumbled upon great idea? When others of higher fame and stature come up with similar ideas, as seen in this blog post from a week back by Tim Ferriss, The Big Question: Are You Better Than Yesterday?

My seemingly great idea is a simple plan to follow that will almost ensure you have a good life. The idea was so good that I actually came up with it twice, in two similar variations to the same theme, within a week. And I luckily had the foresight to jott both down in my Running Notepad list before I lost the essence of the idea.

What makes the plan even better is that I truly wrote it to be very simple to follow, even for someone who has found themselves in a dire situation, and are currently looking straight into what seems like insurmountable odds.

First, you start your journey to a great life by having just one good moment. Then, you work on having another one, and then another one. You’ll quickly find that working toward having good moments becomes addicting, and as you continue stringing some of your good moments together, back to back, and you’ll soon find you’ll have worked your way into having a few good hours, and then a few good days.

From there, just keep working until you are string together more and more good days, and those will quickly become good weeks, then good months, and then good years…all the way up until you can declare with all your heart you have led a remarkable and good life.

This plan isn’t easy, and it may take more time than you expect to string all those good moments into a good life lived, but the workload is enjoyable and life sustaining. And the good moments are just waiting to be had.

So start right now by declaring this moment as a good moment. Work on having more good moments, and keep stringing them all together. You’ll get to that good life, I promise.

As I was doing some research on whether you really can see the Great Wall of China from Outer Space, I began to think about some of the decisions that I made in my life, and how I had to be in the right places at the right times to even see the opportunity I have had to make those decisions.

My biggest example would be why I am living in my current home city of Little Rock, AR and chasing a current career path of media and broadcasting. When I was leaving the Air Force, I was looking at going to school full time until I could figure out what I wanted to do in my next stage of life, after long giving up on my childhood dreams of being a DJ, and failing miserably to convince anyone that I was just a slacker meant to wander aimlessly through life.

Little Rock was nowhere near my radar. In fact, it was not being able to find an immediate job in Atlanta that lead me to move out of my town house in South Georgia and just drive home to my parents’ house in Louisiana without much of a plan. I was set to spend a few days at home and then go try my luck for a few weeks in Dallas, with the invitation to stay on a friend’s couch.

Intervention came from another friend who had come to visit me in Georgia about two years before. We had worked in radio together five years earlier in college, and she was currently working at a radio station, and she called me and caught me days before I was to shut off my home phone service and hit the road. She had the chance to sell me on the law school at University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and on the fact that I was actually pretty good in radio, and could do some side work until I got enrolled in classes. That diversion brought me to the city, which led to more decisions and diversions that kept me on my current path (and not path of signing up for grad school–I PROMISE it will happen this year Mom), that I basically had to be here to even get the chance to see and make them. Moving to anywhere other than Arkansas in 2002, for example, would probably not have led me to get married to wife who was living in Arkansas in 2004.

Trying not to get all Bless The Broken Road on you, but life only allows you the ability to make choices from the choices given. You can’t catch a fly ball at a baseball game you didn’t go to. You can’t use a thunderstorm as an legitimate excuse to not mow my lawn on a clear and sunny day. You can’t be in two different places at the same time, so you can’t cash in on the opportunities available at two different places at the same time.

Do yourself a favor and stop being so hard on yourself for the opportunities you may have missed by not being in the right place at the right time in the past, and start a new focus and appreciation of the choices you were able to make and not make because of being who you were, right where you were. And if you’re looking to make a future dream come true, and it takes being someplace else to make it happen, try working on getting to where you need to be.

The most effective development tool you’ll ever use is a simple one: a list.

Part one of this post gave you a basic strategy for multiple list building designed to help you get out of the ineffective list building habit. In this second part, I will show you the lists that I personally keep everyday. My lists four main lists keep me on track for my progress, and give me clues to when I’m not progressing like I should so, so that I can fix my focus. I have owned a PDA or smart phone since college, so I have become accustomed to keeping my lists with me for instant review or editing for almost 20 years.

My first list is what I call my Daily Journal. This list is literally a place to jot down everything that I do throughout my day from the moment I wake up to the time I turn out the lights to go to sleep. My Daily Journal allows me to figure out exactly what I have accomplished on days when I know I have worked hard, but end up tired and frustrated because there were no obvious returns from my efforts. It also helps me keep up with the progress of my personal and my professional goals, along with keeping a eye on my health with notes for checking my blood sugar, the meals and snacks I eat, and whatever exercise I can squeeze in. I even use my Daily Journal to help compile a weekly review document of myself I call my Weekly Wrap-Up Log (which is why I have found the electronic method of keeping a journal much easier that carrying and recording in a paper bound journal, despite my love for Moleskine notebooks).

My second list is a basic listing I create every night of things I need to work on the next day, which I call my Daily Dozens. I came up with the name as I was working on creating a product on making lists, and thought it sounded catchy, and that ten spots were never really enough on my personal list. In fact, twelve spots is often not enough, as I’ll find I have accomplished additional things that happened to spring up on me throughout the course of a work day that turn out to be fairly important. Because of this, I have the right to add to this list as many more tasks completed throughout the day as I choose (normally no more that 16). Throughout the day, I mark off the tasks I have worked on with significant progress (but not necessarily completed). This list shows me my task priorities as I say they are, and ultimately what I actually focused on completing.

My third list is my 30 Minutes A Day Log. I created a document that covers the Four P’s of Life Management, with the key to devote at least 30 minutes a day to each P:
TO PLAN,
TO PLAY,
TO PONDER, and
TO PAUSE. It is with this log that I keep track of how well I am accomplishing my progress in life management, where some days are much better than others.

My forth list is what I call my Running Notepad, and it doesn’t fall in line with the normal concepts of lists. My Running Notepad is just a file that I use to put down any random idea that pops into my head that I think I will be able to do something with later. I have been carrying little notebooks for ideas since middle school, and the process just got a little more organized (and easier to transcribe) when I started doing more note taking in my PDAs and smart phones. I also use a service called Jott that allows me to leave a verbal note that gets transcribed for me to move into my Running Notepad file if my hands are not available. I am also trying to get the hang of the new Google Voice for recording and transcribing important phone interviews.

The most effective development tool you’ll ever use is a simple one: a list.

While the concept and the proper use of a list are for most people fairly basic, there are some who have taken the art of list building and have turned themselves in the Mozarts and Picassos of productivity and effectiveness. But the majority of us just scribble down a bunch of things and then easily forgets the reason for the list, or the list completely.

In part one of this post, I will show you a basic strategy for multiple list building that should help you get out of the ineffective list building habit. Part two will go in depth into the personal lists that I keep everyday that help me monitor my progress, or can at least alert me when progress is not being made.

Step one is to have a place of prominence to place your list once you’ve created it. Your desk is a fine spot for putting your list…if you don’t allow stuff to pile up on your desk and cover your list. Your list needs to live in a place where you will constantly have access to it. If your kitchen is a high traffic area for you, place it on the refrigerator. If your bedroom is your personal haven, put up a cork board or dry erase board so that you can put your list there. If you carry a smart phone, you can have your list always at your fingertips by keeping up with it in note form on your phone.

Step two is to name your list. Title your list so that it has a purpose (grocery list, tasks for work, Christmas gifts, steps for global domination, etc.) and only put items on the list that fit into that category. If you have a need or a task that doesn’t fit on the list you are currently building, figure out what purpose that need or task has, and make a new list with a new title that fits that purpose.

Step three is to limit your list. While the things you need to do may seem limitless, your capacity to get them done is limited by time, energy, and whatever resources you actually have available to you. Force a number on yourself to stop listing, and if you have more items then slots, eliminate the least important items. When you clear off enough items to make space on a particular list, add the missing items to the list.