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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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Productivity Tip | Get Rid of the Crappy Stuff | Steve Jobs

In What is the cornerstone of your strategy?, I discussed this. When Paul McCartney was feted at the Kennedy Center honors, I shared with you my thoughts on how we become remarkable.

In both cases, I cited Steve Jobs’ well-known phrase about how Apple is so intensely focused on its products … and how proud he is that the entire product line fits on a single table.

Everyone always asks with wonderment, how do you do it? How does Apple promote such productivity and accountability? (Stay tuned, too, for the bonus tip I’ve got for you.)

“Get rid of all the crappy stuff.”

That’s what he says.

Get rid of all the crappy stuff.

I’m pretty sure that David Allen, of Getting Things Done fame, would agree with me that it is far more efficient and effective to be clear about what you’re NOT going to do than to have a cluttered mind trying to juggle of bunch of activity that’s going nowhere.

As we’ve discussed, you first have to devote some quality time to collecting and organizing all the things that have your attention so you can achieve a leakproof system. Once you’re confident you’ve got control over everything you care about … and have gained the perspective to differentiate between mundane tasks and lifetime goals … you’re on your way.

What’s getting in our way?

It’s been proven and restated that (more…)

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Accountability | One embarrassingly easy way to earn respect

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

Over 7 Wednesdays in January and February, I’ll 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?

For the last several weeks, we’ve focused on our R.E.S.P.E.C.T. series. We’ve discussed the “R”Right on Time, Every Time, then EEvery call returned in 24 hours and S“:say something nice like Mom taught us.

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Why is everything Blameworthy … nothing Praiseworthy?

How many times have we seen something go wrong, something undone, something overlooked … and couldn’t refrain from pointing out the error … to an employee, our partner … maybe our spouse more than anyone? I’ll bet that you, like me, have wished a million times that you’d be better at  praising people when they do something right … instead of only finding fault when something goes wrong?

It’s an aberration of human nature that we’re capable of finding fault so easily. In a restaurant, we probably feel like we’re paying for something we’re not getting … the toast not quite toasted enough, the eggs too runny, they’re out of my favorite jelly, “where’s the orange juice I ordered” … so we rationalize our annoyance in those instances … and reinforce similar behavior in other aspects of our life.

I’m really a wizard at pointing out other peoples’ faults!

It sure is easier to spot what went wrong, isn’t it? We’re damn good at spotting the flaws in others, aren’t we? (more…)

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Leadership Lessons | 5 warning signs you’re ignoring tough decisions

One of the most pervasive challenges that arises in my coaching sessions with CEOs and other business executives is the struggle to make the tough decisions.

This is a deadly disease that cripples personal productivity. Usually, it’s a decision that’s already been resolved — silently, often deep in the psyche — but we don’t announce it, we don’t execute it and no one really knows the decision has been made at all.

What’s the impact of indecisiveness?

This is a high stress point for executives. These delayed decisions constantly beg for attention, but as we drop these pebbles of indecision in our backpack, it gets heavier with each step.

Carrying around the burden of these unexecuted decisions is a malignant tumor that can be fatal to both executive effectiveness, productivity and health.

Jack Welch said it best: “you gain nothing by showing uncertainty and indecision”.

You’re squandering valuable time

These agonizing delays also hijack valuable time from the organization.

As indecision becomes increasingly obvious, say when an employee is not really cutting it, people throughout the organization usually see it first. For every day you delay, they wonder why you’re not making an obvious decision.

There’s a giant billboard that says it all about why it’s worth killing procrastination in the decision-making process: The exhilarating and intoxicating relief that every executive experiences when they finally make and publicize a difficult decision.

If you’ve been there, you know what I mean.

Five warning signs that tough decisions aren’t being made

I’ve identified five warning signs that procrastination has supplanted decisiveness. (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 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 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…)

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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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One crazy easy way to earn respect | Accountability | What would Mom say?

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?

____________________________________________

A few weeks ago, 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.

Last week, we introduced The 24 Hour Rule about the “E” in Respect Every Time. On Time … returning calls and customer contact right away.

Say something nice … or nothing at all!

Isn’t that what our Moms taught us … about the time we began to point out the shortcomings of the folks spinning into our universe? In our R.E.S.P.E.C.T series, it’s the “S” … Say something nice … or don’t say anything at all.

At first, I thought this was just too simple to bother mentioning.

Who needs to be told this? Haven’t we heard it ad nauseum, like I said, since Mom first heard an unkind utterance slip off our tongue?

For those of us with a sarcastic or cynical bent … are you looking at me? … it probably gets in our way more than it helps. We know we’re supposed to be nice, but when we’re with a few knucklehead colleagues and friends, we can lay on a little sarcasm, can’t we? Tease? Nudge?

What does “saying something nice” look like?

What Mom was really talking about, though, is not the “nice” that comes out of our mouths, (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…)

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