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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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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 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…)


4 Do-or-Die Principles to Drive your Personal Productivity Program

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 and other business executives can devote more time to the things that only they can uniquely do … whether as a business leader, CEO, mother/father or spouse.

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.

It’s critical to have a comprehensive system

I’ve seen that very few of them have a solid personal productivity program they can really trust … one which ensures that they will know where their focus needs to be at any time.

What are the 4 Do-or-Die Principles that are central to creating a powerful personal productivity system?

1.  It must be complete

Any personal productivity program must allow you to capture, record, organize, review and do … EVERY SINGLE THING that is important to you.

You can’t leave anything out … not Mom’s birthday card (“I’ll never forget that no matter what”) … or the stack of material you need to read (“If I keep them handy right here on my desk, I won’t forget them”) … or the list of people you need to call (“I’ve got that list here somewhere … where did I put that? … did I leave it in the car?”).

You’ll never have a system you can fully trust if it doesn’t contain everything that matters in your life.

As many of you know, I am an avid proponent of David Allen’s Getting Things Done principles – GTD for short – because it is the first approach I’ve found in over 35 years that delivers a methodology to get control of all of the things that have your attention.

You’ll be glad you didn’t leave anything out

It’s not a time management program, but an approach that’s focused on control and perspective over your entire life.

One of its core principles is the collection of everything that has your attention so that it can be deposited and organized in your system.

You’ll never have a system you can fully trust if you can’t be sure it contains everything that matters in your life.

If you have several places where you’re keeping track of things … a daily list of certain things you want to do …

… the pile that you won’t miss on top of your desk …

… the stack behind your desk …

… the pesky emails submerged in your inbox …

… a list of calls you need to return somewhere …

you’re in desperate need of a complete personal productivity program that you can trust … with everything.

2. It must be leakproof

While collecting everything that matters is a great start, alas, it isn’t enough. Why? For one simple reason: (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…)