I am pleased and flattered that my clients, Chris Haddon and Jason Balin, gave specific, detailed credit to me and some of my techniques in their new book, The Whiteboard: Go From Blank Canvas to a Productive, Leveraged and Highly-Profitable Business. Here is just one paragraph.
We sought out our executive coach, Tony, to show us the most strategic, effective way to design our success. A business coach will help you make the right moves at that right times consistently; it’s a precise recipe for getting ahead. Our decision to partner with an executive coach has been a very fruitful investment. By working with Tony, we were able to meet our ten-year business goal in three years. That’s the power of having an expert help you structure your decisions and career movements on a regular basis. Having a career coach isn’t a luxury; it’s smart business and smart living.
The method is as old as procrastination but has been attributed recently to billionaire comedian Jerry Seinfeld, as in this frequently cited LifeHacker article, where it is called Don’t Break the Chain. I prefer positive instructions, so let’s name it Link-a-Day.
Buy or make a simple, clean one year calendar. Do not just print your Outlook or Google calendar; those have too many distracting details for this purpose. You can start your own on any date and fit 365 days on one sheet by downloading my template here in Excel format or use the Google Sheets version here.
Place your calendar in the physical world rather than in a computer or app where it can hide. Hang it where you will see it everyday. I put mine on the wall right next to my computer monitor. After you complete the promised activity for the day, mark it complete. When you miss a day or two, start again. No regrets, no excuses. Just start again. You can play games with Link-a-Day by playing for a longer unbroken chain or a shorter gap than last time.
That’s it. As Aristotle observed, a person is what she consistently does. Use this to start doing something you will be proud to be.
Of all the management tools I recommend, one of the most effective is both very simple and very unlikely to be consistently employed—if it is used at all: the written progress report, completed on a consistent schedule.
The power of progress reports to promote results and reduce anxiety is demonstrated daily, on matters titanic and trivial. The U. S. Constitution requires that the President “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” Public companies are required by law to present results to shareholders, at fixed intervals and in specific formats. Schools send regular reports to parents, our GPS tells where we are, and UPS sends a text when a package arrives.
Still, managers and employees resist implementing this simple process.
Who cares about why? Just grow up and start doing a progress report. Declare your goals. Confront your results. Adjust to living in reality. Enjoy the benefits of clarity while the less disciplined fail and fail in a fog of vague expectations and inchoate regrets.
Before I explain how to format and prepare a good progress report, let’s deal with some common excuses questions.
Q: I don’t have a boss.
A: If you have (more…)
People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
–Vivie, Act II of
Mrs. Warren’s Profession (1893)
via George Bernard Shaw – Wikiquote.
Tips for CFOs to survive the transition to value
- Give up clinging to the illusion of certainty, said executive coach Tony Mayo. Accounting is a black and white world and as such attracts people who like certainty. However, once you move from being a bookkeeper to being a CFO, you are dealing with the future rather than keeping track of the past. “We think we can control the outcomes, but we can’t, so trade certainty for confidence,” Mayo said. “Confidence that you can handle what is coming next. Rather than trying to control and constrain, let’s learn how to respond and create.”
- Understand your purpose. “If you identify yourself with a particular number occurring on a particular day, you can’t win,” said Mayo, so get clear about your purpose as a human, as an executive and as an organization.
Click here for an up-to-date review of what science knows about healthful diet, written by two public health experts at Yale. The gist: don’t be distracted by the latest popular diet or the tendency of publicized studies to contradict details of previous advice. The basics have been established and understood for a long time. As Michael Pollen has said, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Diet is established among the most important influences on health in modern societies. Injudicious diet figures among the leading causes of premature death and chronic disease. … The weight of evidence strongly supports a…diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants. Efforts to improve public health through diet are forestalled not for want of knowledge…but for distractions associated with exaggerated claims, and our failure to convert what we reliably know into what we routinely do.
Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?
Annual Review of Public Health
Vol. 35: 83-103 March 2014
D.L. Katz, Prevention Research Center
Yale University School of Public Health
Yale University School of Medicine
May you live long and prosper.
Some of the most concise and useful personal productivity advice I have seen comes not from David Bowie, but from Peter Drucker. I have often rejected time management with the observation that time seems immune to my attempts at controlling or directing it; time just goes. Personal management is work, but it works.
Effective executives, in my observation, do not start with their tasks. They start with their time. And they do not start out with planning. They start by finding out where their time actually goes. Then they attempt to manage their time and to cut back unproductive demands on their time. Finally they consolidate their “discretionary” time into the largest possible continuing units.
–Peter F. Drucker
From The Effective Executive
Reminds me of the “Handle the big rocks first” metaphor in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Your efforts to lead, manage, and sell often fail because of people’s fears. The fear may be disguised as resistance, indecision, lack of creativity, poor communication or reluctance to take responsibility. You can work on the symptoms forever, but the big rewards come from dealing with the fundamental fears we all share.
We promise according to our hopes and
perform according to our fears.
— La Rochefoucauld
I painted a lot of houses when I was a teenager. Each season, when school let out, I had to force myself up the ladder again. I didn’t look down, I maintained a white knuckle grip, I kept as much of my body in contact with the ladder as possible. The occasional trips across a plank between ladders were performed sitting down with one hand on the wall. Every sway and breeze was a stomach churning calamity. Some say acrophobia isn’t a fear of heights but a fear of falling and hitting, but that wasn’t true for me. I didn’t think about falling. My body just hated being up there. Over the course of a few days I got more accustomed to being on the ladder and by the end of the summer I even made a few trips across the plank standing up. The fear never went away. I just managed it better. The next season it would be back, full force.
Why would anyone do that to themselves? Why did I tolerate so much discomfort? Why would I place myself in situations which brought up so much fear? The reason, ironically, was (more…)