It’s Not Them, It’s You

Leaders are meant to lead change, and yet getting people to change their behaviour seems near impossible. How many times have you felt “If only *they* did what they were supposed to.” when faced with a peer or subordinate that wasn’t doing what you expected (or a child, or a spouse)?

Maybe it’s not them, maybe it’s you. Even if it isn’t you, if their behaviour or performance isn’t changing the way it needs to, maybe you need to change yours. After all, isn’t a definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results?

Work Life Balance is a Myth

I don’t think this is news: trying to balance work and life in some sort of fair, even, or “balanced” way. It’s like trying to divide the Solomon’s baby. So if you’re still trying to divide your time between home, life, children, self, etc. etc. then stop it.

Here’s what I suggest doing instead: figure out what you really want from your life. What are you good at, or where the opportunities are, or who you want to work with, or how to make a butt-load of money so you can retire early if that’s what you want. Then start working towards that.

This is easier and harder than it sounds, but the important part is to give yourself time to think, evaluate, and adjust. On a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if your no technology / no interruption time is 10 minutes every morning with a cup of tea, or once a year over a glass of Scotch.

When I was a kid on my first ten-speed, I was so fascinated by how the gear changes worked that I ran into the back of a car. I ran into it so hard the trunk popped open and I landed inside it. So pull your head up every once in a while to make sure you’re still headed where you want to go. Or at least there aren’t any parked cars in the way.

Then peddle like hell, if that’s what gonna get you to where you’re going.

Open Offices are Evil

I’m afraid I have to agree with the Washington Post. Not because I have anything against them, nor Google, but having worked in both open, semi-private, and private offices I have to agree: open floor plan offices are counter-productive. What you gain in reduced operations costs and floor space efficiency, you lose in individual productivity.

This is not new. It goes back to a book I read in university, a very long time ago now: The Mythical Man Month. One of the insights I took away was the demonstrable pattern of the best programmers at the best companies are 100x more productive than the worst programmer at the worst companies. The difference between companies: can you close your door and silence your phone?

That simple. A 10-second interruption costs you 20 minutes (give or take) of think time. In cognitively challenging work (programming, engineering, creative endeavours, writing, and other brain jobs) every interruption means starting over again.

So if you ever wonder why you can spend the entire day at work, and come home feeling tired and wondering what you actually got done, maybe you should work from somewhere else once in a while. I used to book a small meeting room on the other side of the building so nobody would want to come find me unless they absolutely had to. Not to hide, but to get work done. Try it some time. Let me know how it works for you.

Antelope or Mouse?



Time Management: the Next Big Time Waster?

“Personal productivity presents itself as an antidote to busyness when it might better be understood as yet another form of busyness. And as such, it serves the same psychological role that busyness has always served: to keep us sufficiently distracted that we don’t have to ask ourselves potentially terrifying questions about how we are spending our days.”

— Oliver Burkeman, “Why Time Management is Ruining Our Lives“, The Guardian

(Thanks Tim for the link)

Technology, Millennials, and Empathy

Things you need to know if you manage “the Millennials” (second half of the 30′ video). Also some good strategy about long-term thinking (first half).

They’re Working Hard, You Just Don’t See It

The topic of the “Millennials” comes up with my clients once in a while. Usually the client is relating to me how hard they are to manage, that they’re entitled, and they aren’t willing to put in the work for the rewards they’re expecting.

I think it’s a mistake to group people, and if anything the young men and women I know are smart and hard-working. In fact, I think that one day they’re going to eat our lunch. They know how to collaborate and share and support each other in ways we haven’t yet imagined.

The challenge, then, is how do we step up as leaders and harness this power? But please don’t tell me they don’t know how to work hard.


10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation (and be a Better Listener)

“There is no reason to learn how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention.“


John’s 2016 Business Trends

John’s a cool cat with his ears open. His biggest business trends from 2016 is right. I will say I don’t think anything on this list is new except the technology sea change that’s going on around us. Leadership, talent, sales, communication challenges have always and will always be with us. But if you think the last 20 years of having an internet and email around has made your head spin then you might want to sit down. That was just the warm-up and it’s happening now.

Four Habits of Referability

[this is  a fall re-post series re-post]

Getting a reference from clients and customers builds your business. You need to find a way to get them to know you, like you, trust you, try your product or service, buy from you again, and then you can ask for a reference. And if you don’t ask you won’t get. But first, you’ll need to:

  1. Show up on time
  2. Do what you said you would
  3. Finish what you start
  4. Say please and thank-you
  5. Give a little more than they expect*

*Thanks John Spence for summarizing Dan Sullivan at the Results Canada CEO Forum