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Productivity: The most comfortable ways to use your iPad … and more

I’ve been traveling more than ever lately, and wanted to share with you several products that really make a difference in how I use my iPad, in different environments, to consume the wide range of materials I read and watch. Keep reading for some other ideas, too.

Productivity Tips: Twelve South HoverBar

Twelve South HoverBar | © 2013 Twelve South LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The HoverBar from Twelve South is a simple device that attaches to a computer stand, e.g., to the base of an iMac … or to a different workstation … or to a tabletop, kitchen counter, bookshelf or another surface. It uses a padded clamp that is adjustable up to 1″ wide, and can be purchased for any iPad model.

My wife makes fun of mine, suggesting that it looks like a table in a senior citizen center, but it’s a very convenient, hands-free way to suspend your iPad for easy reading on a table that you can bring up to your favorite chair or sofa.

It works great for me and I wouldn’t be without it … honey!

But, when I’m traveling and not at home …

Another Twelve South product that I always carry but has been displaced with the HoverBar at home, is still an irreplaceable travel companion. (more…)

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Productivity Tip | 8 Easy Steps to a Great Looking Desktop

For several years, I have visited the Smashing Magazine website every month to download their latest wallpaper images. I download the calendar versions if only to freshen up the look of my desktops.

Smashing Magazine Apr2013 Calendar Image

The library is free and features designs from artists across the world. There are some terrific artists and graphic designers featured each month, with a wide variety of designs and motifs ranging from the earth’s beauty to whimsical and wise quotations and ideas.

You can download versions with a calendar or without a calendar, but I find that the calendars come in handy. Click on the Read this complete article button to get a simple set of instructions about how to do this in just a few minutes each month. (more…)

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Leadership Insights | Do you really think you’re Resourceful?

On a recent morning, I headed to a favorite place just down the street to fetch a couple of lattes for my wife and me.

Our forebearers would have awakened in woolen underwear, stepped in the dark onto a cold dirt floor, and stumbled outside to chop some wood to start a fire in the cook stove balanced on the rocks outside.

They would have tossed some coffee grounds into a beat-up metal pot … grounds that had already been used for several days … filled the pot with water, boiled it … and at some point, would finally get that first bitter cup of java.

No coffee house down the road, no car to get there, certainly no latte or cappuccino. Eat what you kill, literally. If you ain’t got it, you ain’t gonna get it.

Lots of resources but ….

The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” Benjamin Disraeli

In many ways, we’re much less resourceful than our forefathers.

While we may have expanded the definition of community in many positive ways, using our physical and social media “mobility” to create unimagined connections, we’ve also become more dependent on external resources to get through our day.

In some ways it’s probably better that we’re co-dependent. (more…)

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Leadership Insights | The Prizefighter & The Preacher

Dad’s Christmas gift to me of an ornament he thought I’d like. The cow sings, too!

Dads never get any credit

Among some of us dads, we often remark, “Dads never get any credit.”

Dads teach their kids how to play ball, run, catch, dodge … but if they score a run, a touchdown or a basket … and the camera zooms in on them, don’t they always say, “Hi Mom!”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “… as good as Dad and apple pie?.” I doubt it. I never have. How about, “the father of all storms” … nope … I think you catch my point.

The Prizefighter & The Preacher

I’ve written several articles over the years, including a recent one about lessons I learned from my 94-year-old mom, but Dad deserves at least as much credit.

I lost my Dad on Nov. 16, 2001, and I still miss him every day. Perhaps my most striking memory is that he had the most unusual combination of careers of anyone I’ve ever known … a world-ranked professional boxer with a record of 82-5-0 who became a minister when he heeded the calling.

An extraordinary combination …

All his life, he loved boxing with great passion and practiced his ministry with great compassion.
He believed deeply that boxing’s demand for discipline, training and sacrifice was a way out for “street toughs,” a route through the gym and into a productive life that would be otherwise inaccessible.

He knew that every soul was worth saving and he never wavered from that commitment.

Brevity is the soul of wit …

One good teacher in a lifetime may sometimes change a delinquent into a solid citizen.Philip Wylie

He had a great sense of humor, too, and it reflected his vision of life as a joyful journey. I’ve still got a copy of a parking ticket that I may have forgotten to pay while in college.


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Leadership Insight | Lessons learned from my 94-year-old mom

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill


Yes, I know Mom doesn’t look 94. (This picture is only 2 years old, so she was just 92 then. :-P ) Why do you think I don’t like to stand next to her among strangers? She looks so young they may think we’re the same age. That’s not possible, of course, but do they know that?

Patience, Perspective & Preparation

In our infancy, mom and dad made sure that our clothes were clean, that we were fed, that we got our vaccinations and regular checkups. They made sure our clothes were mended, our beds were made and we were as safe as possible.

Some 40 … maybe 50 years later, it’s our turn. We make sure our parents have clean clothes and linens, that they get to their doctors’ appointments and take their medications according to schedule. We make sure they’re safe and nourished and we visit regularly.

When this cycle makes its turn, we are reminded of life’s fragility as well as our own mortality, aren’t we? (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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How do we become truly remarkable?

Imagine that you are so remarkable that all the world stands in your honor, swinging and singing, tiny flashlights dancing across the ceiling, oblivious to the world around them?

How do we achieve such an astounding level of recognition and praise for our own talents and accomplishments?

That’s what was going through my mind when I tuned in late last night  to the Kennedy Center Honors featuring Paul McCartney.

Yes, there were other honorees … Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman and Bill T. Jones … but there were goosebumps aplenty as I listened to some of McCartney’s and the Beatles’ memorable songs … sung by luminaries like James Taylor, Steven Tyler, Gwen Stefani and Mavis Staples. Members of every generation ravenously devoured his music. You can watch many of the performances here.

What is our special gift?

Wow! How can we do that, I wondered?

How do we, as Steve Jobs said, “get rid of all the crappy stuff” and stay focused like a rocket heading to its target?

How do we apply the unique characteristics that define and differentiate us to achieve excellence in our chosen field? How do we stay unshackled from the constraints of everyday living and get our star to shine like Sirius?

And when the night is cloudy ….

It’s easy to ponder McCartney’s accomplishments and overlook the turbulence that has surrounded his life … from the screaming crowds and adoration beginning  in his early 20’s, to later encounters with drugs, the deaths of his wife and John Lennon, a more recent divorce …. Just a few of those distractions would overpower a weaker individual, and yet with all of it, he created an enduring musical catalog that lives in the hearts of billions of people across the world.

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid ….

I watched the “shiny eyes”, borrowing the words of Benjamin Zander, that stared in wonder at Paul McCartney.

He was standing in the balcony reserved for the honorees, awash in the crescendo of adulation and applause.

The musical set finished with Let it Be, which rocked the house, and when the huge choir assembled on stage for Hey, Jude, the crowd came to its feet, flashlights in hand, arms raised, McCartney singing, the President, Oprah and special guests swinging and swaying like they were in a totally different world.

At that moment, McCartney’s music and lyrics transcended time and generations, with intoxicating power.

What are we doing to get there?

What inspires you to sharpen your focus and accelerate your journey in 2011?

Do you have the desired outcome and the next action steps clearly in mind?

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King Arthur: The Power of the (Exkalibur?) Legend

How could I NOT share this email with you?

Seriously? Isn’t this all about Exkalibur … really? Pretty cool, huh? Maybe somebody’s looking out for us? (BTW, I might have to “borrow” the image of that sword handle.)

How many of you know of The Teaching Company and their terrific Great Courses catalog? If you’re a lifelong learner … and you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t … it’s a great resource that provides access to the great teaching professors from prominent universities. They offer more than 350 titles … in innumerable subjects ranging from the fields of science, fine arts, history and archaeology, philosophy, wine, music, mathematics … there is nothing really outside of their realm. You should check them out. Their stuff is really good.

By visiting King Arthur: The Power of the Legend, you can watch the free video yourself and get an idea of some of the wonderful offerings from this great company.

The Power of the Legend

So, maybe there are even more lessons in store from the legend of King Arthur? I’ll take a look at the video and report back to you. If you get a chance to watch it, let me know what you think.

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Can you put a lifetime on a 3×5 card?

Do you think you could distill a lifetime of experiences into a handful of sentences … so that when your grown children read them, they would hold them as dearly as they once held their teddy bears?

I’ve recently published several lists of “life lessons”, for lack of a better term, that keep coming my way from a variety of sources. These lists, scratched on the back of an envelope found in a plane crash, or tucked in a wallet for 50 years, are treasures because they’re personal … and each person believed he or she had captured the unique nature of their humanity.

Can you capture your life lessons on a 3×5 card?

So, now come the Guideposts of business philosophy taken from the book, Marriott The J. Willard Marriott Story by Robert O’Brien. It’s longer than most … not a note card but still a single sheet of paper … maybe Willard did more than most? Some may seem old-fashioned, others a little harsh for the more indulgent company cultures of the 21st century … but most of them are rooted in sound business practices. Work your way past some of the pedestrian entries to uncover a few nuggets and valid reminders that you can add to your own list.

  1. Keep physically fit, mentally and spiritually strong.
  2. Guard your habits – bad ones will destroy you.
  3. Pray about every problem.
  4. Study and follow professional management principles. Apply them logically and practically to your organization. (more…)
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The Zen of Goal Setting: Don’t tell anyone

How many times have we been told to write down our goals so we can keep them in focus … and make sure we tell everyone around us so they can support us and cheer us on.

Derek Sivers strongly disagrees and shares what he’s learned from psychologists going back to the 1920’s. His TED speech is provocative and compelling and suggests that the more we tell people our goals, the less we accomplish … because afterward, we tend to behave as though we’ve already accomplished them. By the way, Derek Sivers is a rock star to the musicians he serves, having launched CD Baby and sold it 10 years later when its revenue exceeded $100 million. He continues to serve the musical community with MuckWork.

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