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Archive | January, 2011

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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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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The remarkably easy trick to earning instant respect

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 7 Thursdays, 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 quality … and we have absolute control over the actions we take to earn it. Since it’s impossible to be an effective leader without it, let’s devote some time and energy to learn how to give it. Are you with me?


It was one of those days when I was already behind plan. I got to the meeting destination on time but I didn’t get a chance to find the missing file I needed for a later meeting or grab the dog food I swore to my wife I would drop off at the vet.

I was already a little irritated by all that, particularly by forgetting the coffee I had carefully prepared for the drive … and now getting even more irritable …

… because the other party still wasn’t there after 20 minutes!

When he came bungling in, it was with that bit of insouciance that makes you want to pour cabbage soup down his jumpsuit … and then with the … “sorry, man, my other meeting ran late and I tried to call you but my cell battery was almost dead and I had to use the juice to call a client and I was rushing to get here” …. yeah, blah, yeah.

What are you and I thinking when this happens to us … other than channeling Carnac the Magnificent and hoping that an evil genie will plant splinters in his bathing suit?

We know that there are lots of excuses reasons why people are late … and at one time or another, we’ve all probably used them. But, do you know the universal reason why most people are late in the first place?

RESPECT E-book Promo

You never make it out of the driveway when you think you will

Answer? We think we’re actually going to get out the door at the time we’ve chosen to leave … but, here’s the problem. By the time you pack up, find the coat your wife took off the back of the chair and actually hung up, turn out the lights, let the dogs out one more time, locate that file you almost forgot, the vet food … you see where I’m going?

This is the first post in a weekly Leadership series, entitled R.E.S.P.E.C.T. How to earn it by showing it. “R” signifies “Right on time. Every time.

Even though we’re smart enough to know when to leave … and might even allow a few extra minutes for unpredictable travel events … that’s not when we really leave.

We think departure time is when our car is backing out of the driveway … but it’s never backing out when we figured.

If you’re like my darling wife, you may also be checking to make sure the gas is off? … for the 2nd time … did I lock the back door? … did I leave my scarf in the trunk? … etc.

Doesn’t leaving early waste time?

There’s a mind-numbingly simple cure for the curse of tardiness …   (more…)

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