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Archive | January, 2011

FRiction FRiday | Mystery-Thriller-Suspense | Edgar Awards

Last week we extolled the prodigious talent of James Lee Burke, a royal member of the mystery-thriller-suspense genre. I hope you’ve been privileged to pick up one of his books. When you do, it will only take a few pages for you to feel like you just moved to the Louisiana bayou. The richness of the sounds, smells and tastes of New Orleans, its Garden District and the French Quarter, feels like you’re ravishing a huge gumbo pot with Étouffée and jambalaya on the side.

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[All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGE … except URL references in RED.}

Edgar Award nominees for 2011 are out! Have you read any?

The Edgar Award nominees for 2011 have been announced for books in the mystery genre. (more…)

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FRiction FRiday | Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction | James Lee Burke

As promised, we completed the First Five of the Top Ten Favorite Characters recently in the mystery-thriller-sense fiction category … the Second Five Favorites thereafter … and then began the favorite fiction, which is a potpourri of great characters that, for all kinds of reasons, didn’t make the Top Ten Favorite Characters. More on the way ….

[All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGE … except URL references in RED. No affiliate links.]

James Lee Burke Rules!

We spoke last week about how agonizing it is to be a fan of James Lee Burke. More so if you’re a fan of the Dave Robicheaux series (Top Ten Favorite Character) which also features his cohort, Clete Purcell. Since July, 2010, I’d been savoring The Glass Rainbow, #18 in this series, but I finally read it last week.

I probably need to confess that (more…)


Personal Productivity | Multitasking | The nightmare of a cluttered mind

It’s not the clutter of the desktop or inbox … but the clutter of the mind that scuttles our personal productivity plans and leads us into unproductive habits and wasted time.

Yes, I know, our inbox is spawning new life forms, ending the paper flood has been about as successful as ending world hunger and our mobility means that we have to juggle all of this like we’re riding a unicycle.

Sometimes we’re infected with the attention span of a mosquito.
We’re moving fast … but we aren’t getting anywhere.

A lot of it starts with The Great Multitasking Hoax: It’s killing us.

Most of our conversations about personal productivity seem to revolve around related fields like organization or time management … but it’s probably more about mind management.

What’s the sign of a Cluttered Mind?

The consequence of a cluttered mind is our inability to focus on one thing at at time, fueled by our obsession with multi-tasking.

In many ways, technology has driven us to overestimate our multi-tasking abilities … and science has repeatedly confirmed that we are misguided about this.

Consider the debate in Is Technology making us Smarter or Stupider, or the results of one man’s decision to stop multi-tasking for a week.

Late last year, the New York Times summarized the most recent data on failed multitasking.

Don’t overlook the Atlantic’s detailed analysis, either, in Is Google Making us Stupid, which looks more closely at what the Internet is doing to our brains as we become increasingly focused on short mind-bites of information.

Try going somewhere else to regain your focus

One thing really works for me … and the more I talk to others, the more this seems to work for them, too.

It’s stupidly simple and it doesn’t seem like it should work at all. In fact, I’m not exactly sure why it works … but it seems like it’s connected to our ability to focus.

What is it? (more…)

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Action Planning Podcast Series | What Do YOU Want to do?

Strategy-A Plan of ActionWhat are we going to be covering in this 6th and final podcast in our Action Planning Course?

In this final episode of our Strategy podcast series, we extend our conversation to examine a 4th criterion that should be used to evaluate all of the opportunities available to build your business:

What do YOU want to do.

Listen to this final episode about what YOU want to do as the final criterion needed to evaluate the opportunities to build your business and install a powerful Action Planning process in your company.


What do YOU want to do? There’s no criterion more important to evaluating how you’re going to build your business.

In this podcast, we explain why what YOU want to do is a critical component of this process.

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Flush the recession Kool-Aid! Create your own demand!

“Teach a parrot the terms ‘supply and demand’ and you’ve got an economist.”

~ Thomas Carlyle

A lady walked into a neighborhood market one day and spoke loudly over the counter to the head butcher.

“Your prices these days are atrocious, Sal. Joe’s Deli across the street is selling your $10 chuck roast for only $5!”

“I know, Mrs. Haggle. I saw the sign. The thing is . . . Joe doesn’t have any chuck roast.”

The law of supply and demand still rules

So, the law of supply and demand rears its head again, some days a beautiful vision, other days an ugly hag. We’re surrounded by her mystique everywhere we go. Traffic is tied up because there are more cars than highway space. Starbuck’s is backed up because people want coffee faster than it can be made. There are no paper clips in the supply room but there’s plenty of fruitcake left in the kitchen.

Even for tickets to a free concert?

Supply and demand drove markets long before economists appeared … and its jarring prevalence is unavoidable. One of my favorite examples is (more…)

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FRiction FRiday | Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre | James Lee Burke Rules!

As promised, we completed the First Five of the Top Ten Favorite Characters recently … the Second Five Favorites thereafter … and last week began the Honorable Mention category, which is a potpourri of great characters that, for all kinds of reasons, didn’t make the Top Ten Favorite Characters. More on that next week ….

[All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGE … except URL references in RED. No affiliate links.]

James Lee Burke Rules!

It’s agonizing to be a fan of James Lee Burke. More so if you’re a fan of the Dave Robicheaux series (Top Ten Favorite Character) which also features his cohort, Clete Purcell. Since July, 2010, I’ve been savoring The Glass Rainbow, #18 in this series.

It’s so rich and intricate, his writings vivid and evocative … so while I’m savoring every moment, I also wish it was still parked on a shelf  with anticipation dripping from it like candle wax. It may be one of his greatest yet in terms of developing the relationship between Dave and Clete. I don’t remember another book in this series where their actions were so closely interwoven and their intricately connected lives explored in such detail. I’ll finish it this weekend … don’t really want to because I hate for it to end … and don’t know when the next one’s coming? (more…)


Another ridiculously easy trick to earning respect | Accountability | The 24 Hour Rule

This 7-part weekly Leadership series is about R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – How to get it by earning it!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue to describe 7 remarkably simple components of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. that you can apply to your everyday conduct.

The ability to earn R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is a critical Leadership requirement … and we have absolute control over the actions we take to earn it. It’s also the centerpiece of “accountability “, a concept that vexes the most astute business leaders. Since it’s impossible to be an effective leader without gaining respect, let’s devote some time and energy to learn how to give it to get it. Are you with me?


Last week, we kicked off our 7 part series, R.E.S.P.E.C.T – How To Get It by Earning It, and talked about one way to earn instant respect starting with the “R” in Respect … be Right on Time, Every Time.

As we build our businesses, we’re all looking for tips to improve our productivity, leadership and accountability. Here is a tip that will increase not only your productivity, but the response you get to all of the things you do.

The 24 Hour Rule … Rules!

I call it The 24 Hour Rule … and in our R.E.S.P.E.C.T series, it’s the “E” … Every Call Returned in 24 Hours. It’s about getting back to people within 24 hours no matter what … some might call it “one business day”.

It’s absolutely doable for phone calls and is really longer than it should take as you should make every effort to return most calls within the same business day. Of course, if they call at 5:15 p.m., it’s okay to invoke the 24 hour rule but certainly no longer than that … or maybe after 6:00 p.m.

The 24 Hour Rule should apply to all customer contact.

Emails might be a different story because the flood is increasing and we all need to establish our own guidelines … but for customers and clients, there’s still no excuse not to rigorously apply The 24 Hour Rule. The essence of the rule is …  (more…)

Leadership Lessons | What is the Cornerstone of your Strategy?

At this time of year, we all get excited about personal renewal, our plans for the coming year and how we can enhance our personal and professional lives in 2011.

Even though most of us have traveled the road of broken resolutions, hope springs eternal as we prepare to refresh our commitment and recharge our batteries … and make plans to overcome our shortcomings and rise to new levels of success.

There are many fashionable approaches to this process, many of them with valuable insights.

Jonathan Fields chose 10 words to focus his energy. His approach is an expanded derivation from a three-word approach used by Chris Brogan, who, like me, uses his carefully chosen words “the way a lighthouse helps a ship in a storm.”

For sale: baby shoes, never worn

Ernest Hemingway used only six words to write what he called his greatest novel … and the more you think on it, the more intriguing it becomes.

It’s one more approach you can use to bring the essence of your 2011 plan into sharp focus.

Although we’re more interested in clarity than mystery in our annual pilgrimage to the altar of realistic expectations, this approach, like those of Jonathan and Chris, also celebrates the power of simplicity.

Find the Cornerstone of your strategy

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” – Alvin Toffler

Maybe you’ve used variations on these K.I.S.S. principles to craft all sorts of goals and objectives … memorialized in lists, notebooks and diagrams.

Yet, when we step back into the maelstrom of real life, distractions intrude, new input floods our inboxes, and without seeing it, we start to slowly drift off course. We madly implement course correction procedures, but instead of returning us to our original direction, they cause us to lurch about, each adjustment resulting in a slightly different course even further from our original objective.

So, how many words does that leave us? (more…)


FRiction FRiday | Favorite Fiction Characters

As promised, we completed the First Five of the Top Ten Favorite Characters two weeks ago … the Second Five Favorites last week … so we’ve completed the Top Ten Favorite Characters in the mystery-thriller-suspense fiction genre. How many of those 160 books have you read?

Don’t forget … they’re just MY favorites … feel free to eagerly disagree so we can all learn about some of  the great characters we may have missed.

[All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGE … except URL references in RED. No affiliate links.]

Honorable Mention?

It’s kinda lame to have an Honorable Mention list, isn’t it? I think people do it because they can’t really leave it at 10 or 25 or 100 … on any list of favorites. Me, too, I guess … but there are good reasons some of these didn’t make the Top Ten Favorites. It’s not that they’re not liked … loved even … it’s just that there are a few blemishes in their back story that kept them from the Top Ten.

So, here’s the beginning of the Honorable Mention list. (more…)


Personal Productivity is the Cornerstone of Success | Weekly Tips

Getting it all done

Over the last several years working with Bay Area CEOs and with members of the Exkalibur Leadership Forum, I’ve learned that personal productivity improvements are one of the most important ways in which CEOs can find more time to focus on the things that really matter, and that only the CEO can do. Peter Drucker, noted business author; A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Proctor & Gamble; and others have focused extensively on what only the CEO can do. As I’ve watched CEOs struggle to spend enough time on their most important initiatives, I’ve worked hard to learn as much as I can to adapt powerful productivity ideas to help business leaders gain control and perspective over everything they care about. Every Thursday, I’ll share these VERY PRACTICAL PRODUCTIVITY TIPS to help you improve your own results in 2011. Why not sign up today so you don’t miss any of these great tips?


During the holidays, I sat down with a client over a chilled martini … 3 olives, thank you. She was lamenting the limited progress she had achieved during 2010 on the seemingly endless list of projects she tried to tackle. Most of them were overdue or barely out of the gates. Her desk was littered with good intentions turned to stalled initiatives with little hope of an early resolution.

She had achieved only limited progress on her number one goal for the year. Yet, as we discussed several of the specific projects, she knew exactly what needed to be done … her reasoning was sound … but it was the unyielding demands of all of them, each of which she thought was as important as the previous one, that was keeping her from the success she was seeking.

Let’s figure out how to get all of this done

As we launch a weekly series … every Thursday … on Personal Productivity, I’m convinced of one thing if nothing else: (more…)

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