Sunday, January 15, 2017

Habits

My refugee sponsorship story has gone international with mentions on BBC and The Guardian.

I did not do this project for fame or publicity.  At first I resisted publicity but now welcome it.  It helps leverage.  It helps get things done.

The downside is it generates a lot of volume.  People read it and ask for help.  Or people want to express an opinion.  And it adds pressure for me to be "perfect" and "profound".   I am just a regular person doing a tiny bit and even doing that imperfectly.  

So I have finally broken down and put up a donate page.  Lets see how much we can generate and how much good we can do.  The humanitarian crisis remains extreme.

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A friend asked me how to maintain habits.  He was slipping.  My answer:

I find when my habits are too hard, I will slip on them.

EG - I do a form of HIT (High Intensity Training).  Short duration time wise but really hard.  When I change to a lesser workout, I stick to it and then sometimes step it up anyways.

My other cause of failure is when I move aside something that is important.  EG - At times I have scrimped on sleep to work out.  But the sleep is important and ends up winning in time.  

Other tricks - make it easier or tougher to do.  EG - get dressed in shorts and tshirt and wear sweat pants when you get up.  I usually eat fairly healthy when I am home because I have no unhealthy food on hand.  Yes, I could go out and get cookies or make them but it is a barrier.  

Or add reward or punishment.  I like tea.  I do not allow myself to drink tea until X is done.

I say to myself:

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

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And a great article on the pace of change.   It includes a warning not to be complacent.   Change was fine at one time  but I have had quite enough of it - Anon

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I am worried my grand daughter will never learn to fly properly holding the broom that way.


Monday, January 02, 2017

Checklist Manifesto

With New Years comes examination of my systems.

I read a book - Checklist Manifesto written by a doctor with many examples of how checklists save lives.  He implemented checklist in operating rooms by being inspired by airline pilot checklists.

It has inspired me to do my own checklist.  The one I am experimenting with is a weekly 1 page sheet with some things to do daily (like pushups and meditation) and others to do weekly (like checking in with key people).  For some of my weekly things I put more than once (like working out).  Ironically, I do not add everything I do daily - just the things that are not yet fully engrained.

So on first try, I got it wrong (as is often the case).  I did not even get through my checklist.  I was too ambitious which is one affliction I have.  It reminds me of "We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade".

I judge a book as good if it causes me to make a permanent change.  This feels like it might stick.  Will see.

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A good friend from New York emailed me a story of "Man punches cougar outside of Tim Hortons to save his dog" saying - you don't see this in NY.

I replied "Too politically correct to punch cougars?"

She said "No a Tim Hortons"

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And as if we needed any more reason to burn less coal.  Lower mercury levels.  As someone who is largely pescatarian (not to be confused with Catholic or Methodist) or pescovegetarian, mercury in fish is a concern.  For that matter - so is breathing. 

Article here.

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Have a great 2017 and beyond.




Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Time Management Guest post


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Indispensable Time Management Hacks to Get More Out of Your Work Day



I rarely use guest blog posts but I thought this one was quite good.  And my time management tip for me might be to use more guest blogs (since they take less time).  Thanks to Surepayroll for these tips.

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- See more at: https://www.surepayroll.com/resources/blog/time-management-hacks#sthash.fgE5oeti.dpuf

Monday, December 12, 2016

New Years Resolutions

“Resolutions: So many will fail; NOT because they didn't set goals, but because they didn't set behaviors.” 
― Steve Maraboli

It is getting time to work on my goals.  I do not call them resolutions.  And I do them about 3-4 times per year.   I like to work on 3-5 goals at a time.  Each broken down with an action plan.

One rule I have is - it cannot be on my list unless I am prepared to spend an hour per week on it.  Of course for some, I spend way more than that.

I have get goals - things I strive for.  And stop goals (or reduce) - things I want to reduce.

We do things if there is more pleasure associated with doing them than not.  Or we do them if there is more pain caused by not doing them.  The pain part is emphasized in martial arts training - a bit if pain can motivate change.  So one trick is to add to the pleasure - EG - drink tea if I do do something or add to the pain - EG - not do something.  You get the idea.

I liked the quote because it is the behaviours that create the ultimate result.  As I call them - Success Habits.

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A good video by Simon Sinek on managing Millennials.   I generally dislike "labelling" a group and assuming they are all the same.  That said, I have found good support of my Syrian project by my Millenial staff.  It has become the Danby purpose.  And it fits with "do the right thing" which is one of the things we emphasize at Danby.

Speaking of Syrian project.  We need lightly used sheets, towels and snow gear.  We also need rugs. We need new pillows.    Drop them off at Danby Guelph.

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This is the most adorable video of my grand daughter doing a work out video with her mother.

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And another granddaughter accessorizing her PJs for winter (inside no less).  



Monday, December 05, 2016

Password Fun

Please help my young videographer friend Liam who is doing his part to help Syrian refugees.  See his Indigogo campaign.  Speaking of helping refugees - I have learned though this process that rugs and carpets are as important to Syrians as kitchen tables.  If you have any lightly used ones, we need them.

I was visiting a Syrian family on the weekend and the 80 year old grandmother chose to sit on the floor rather than a chair.  I will be able to do the same if I can improve my flexibility by the time I am 80.
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I always love snow.  This morning, it was perfect packing for a snowball fight but alas, my brothers do not live close by.  Lucky for them... or perhaps that is why.


Do not enjoy waking up in the dark which you can see in the background of the photo.
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Passwords are a pain.  Different sites have different requirements.  Different sites have you change them.  Password recovery is painful and slow.  So the temptation is to use the same password on multiple sites - DON'T DO IT.  Imagine the poor Yahoo users whose login and passwords were stolen.  The bad guys can just set up scripts to automatically try logging into multiple bank accounts and eventually find success.

I use Password Tricks to allow me to remember them and to keep them different on each site.  My tricks are not so complex that any amateur cryptographer could not figure them out but I am trying to foil machines - not real people who would need to do real work.

Here are 4 increasingly complex ways to generate unique memorable passwords.  Each start with a unique string of characters, numbers and symbols (We will say password321$ for example purposes) - something I can remember then:

1 - append the name of the site on the end.  EG - password321$yahoo or password321$RBC

2 - append the name of the site backwards.  EG - password321$oohay or password321$CBR

3 - append the name of the site but on the keys above it on the keyboard.  EG - password321$7qu00 or password321$%HF

4 - Same as 3 but add 17+the number of characters in the string on the end.  EG password321$7qu0034 or password321$%HF32.

You get the idea.  I call it "fun with passwords" or "fun with keyboards".   The variations can be many.  And any amateur cryptographer could break mine but when I hit to publish button on this post, I will change them all to an even more difficult and secret variation - so don't even try to hack me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Our Reaction

Most things that happen - positive or negative happen because of our reactions.  It is not what happens - it is our reaction to it that is important.

I do not do politics.

The Trump victory will cause massive reactions in the stock market, housing prices, oil prices, gold prices, currency etc.  There will be great uncertainty while people try to figure out what is going to happen.  The reactions (and over reactions) are the issue.

The impacts are tough to know.  The US $ could weaken causing the Canadian $ to go up.  But the price of oil could weaken causing the Canadian $ to go down.  And the uncertainty in Canada could cause less buying.  In the end, it is impossible to figure out all the interactions.

Danby will do fine.  Danby has survived ups and downs and uncertainties.  Danby is actually better positioned than most companies.  We have significant business in Canada.  We are financially strong.

Leadership through these times usually calls for conservative and cautious thinking.  This, too, is a reaction that can cause less spending.  This is actually the natural reaction I have to this situation.   My frugal nature is well suited for difficult times.  This conservativeness can cause a shrinking in the economy which will allow conservatively managed companies to say "I told you so".

I have always thrived during times of high change - both up and down.  Change is opportunity.  This could be a period of high change.

Leadership at this times needs more fluidity.

But think.  Just because there are reactions happening, will you go hungry?  Will you have to live on the street?  You still have family and friends.  Count your blessings.  Now is the time to be zen.  Breathe.

If you do not have a gratitude journal, today is the day to start one.  Simply get a book and write in it all the things you are grateful for.

And know that time passes and things are always ok.

Be grateful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dealing with Conditions

I had a great COO working for me at SYNNEX who talked about "Conditions".  Conditions are those things which you cannot change - you can only choose how to react to them.  For example - the exchange rates or if an accident has already happened.  It is done - now you can only react to the Condition.  Or as someone once wrote "you cannot ought to have done anything".  Dwelling on the "ought to have done" does not change it or add any value except in tearing down your self esteem.

Some tips for dealing with Conditions:

1 - Compartmentalize.  Often the Condition is high stress.  Once you have done all you can do.  Leave it.  Do something to take your mind off it.  Try to not let it spill into other compartments of your life.

2 - Choose your reaction.  Often the reaction chosen can hurt you even more than the condition.  This is like the person who chooses to say "my life if ruined because...".  Why do they choose to let the Condition ruin their life.  The more they assume they have no choice but to take the reaction they have the more helpless they are.

3 - Count your blessings.  Most Conditions are not as catastrophic as we imagine.  As Mark Twain said "I have suffered from a lot of worries in my life - a few of which actually happened".  The grateful in this world are happier and more in control.

4 - Help someone who is worse off than yourself.  This helps with gratefulness.  Focus on someone else.

5 - Focus on making another part of your life better.  Just because a Condition happened in one area does not mean you need it to poison all of life.  Often you can build better in another area.

6 - Be logical.  Often by exaggerating what it really means, you can see that it is not as big of a deal as it feels like at the time.  Sometimes a calm and insightful mentor can help this.

7 - Break a sweat.  I find there is nothing like a good workout to help me get perspective back.  And there is no downside.

8 - Control what you can.  Even though the nature of Conditions is you cannot control them, there often are parts of it or other things you can control.  Control gives hope and a part of us always like to be "doing something to fix it".

9 - Take a break.  Often the weight of the condition colours our whole view on life.  If you have already done what you can, take a break.  Breaks rejuvenate.  Figure out what rejuvenates you.

Good luck dealing with your Conditions.
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High blogger guilt.  Have not blogged lately.  I have been publishing some on Medium and Linkedin.  And have been invited to publish on Lifehack.

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I am a big believer in Linkedin.  It is a platform that people keep their own contact information current so you never lose touch.  And it is also an easy way to stay top of mind with prospects and clients by publishing updates and articles.  I have started re-publishing articles I had previously written. See this one on replicable sales models.

My stats on articles published is about 5% of my Linkedin connections or about 300 people read the articles.  Of course not all readers need to be my connections since anyone can see them.  I suppose in a way, that builds brand and has more people see the Danby name.

One of my more successful Linked articles got 772 views.  Not sure exactly why it go so many.   It did not have a particularly clickable title (One Effective Hiring Technique you Likely do not use)

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I am a self development person.  One author suggested he had success by using a login id which was his primary goal.  Interesting idea.  Article is here.  I have not tested the theory yet.

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Some press on Touch Bistro.  And the second CNBC article with 8 entrepreneurs sharing business advice.

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People think Xavier is smart because he knows the alphabet.  Big deal - I know the alphabet and no one says I am smart because I know the alphabet...






Sunday, September 11, 2016

Daniel Charles Maisonneuve Born Sept 10/2016

Headline says it all.  Brother to Baby Elizabeth who now likes to be called big sister Elizabeth.

Wondering what exciting things his life will bring.

Must be colder in Ottawa than here - he is wearing a hat.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Canadian Translator

Danby is Canadian.  People like to buy Canadian.  In Canada it means local.  In the US, it denotes quality and North American.  Everyone does not know Danby is Canadian and even if they do, they may not know our language.  We we put up a simple Canadian Translator.  Simply type in the word or phrase you want translated and it speaks back what that is in Canadian.

Try it out.

And ideally tweet it, re-blog it etc.  I want it to go viral and it is funny enough it might.

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Speaking of marketing ideas,  I read a book - Do it! Marketing  - 77 Instant ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits and Crush Your Competition by David Newman.

As I have often said - I love marketing.  And even more - I love guerrilla marketing.  And I have no attention span so love a book with 77 instant ideas (many of which are guerrilla).   Because it is 77 independent ideas, it is a quick and easy read that can be picked up for a minute here and there.

i read to inspire ideas and this book did that so for me it is a good book.

One cute story paraphrased from the book - "Sell like a girl"

What can we learn from girl guides from how they sell cookies.

1 - It is who you know.  So as I have always said - nurture a network.

2 - Its not about the product.  I can attest to that - since they changed the recipe 20 years ago, I have not particularly liked them...but I buy them.

3 - Its not about price.  Girl scout cookies are easily 50+% higher than other cookies.

4 - Its not about need.  Who really needs cookies.

5 - Its not about competition.  Cookies are available in any grocery store.

6 - "When times are tough and things look quiet, that's the time to push harder than ever.  Girl guides know how to be persistent.

They did not mention - it helps to be cute to sell - will have to work on that one.

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And a blatant plug for one of my investee companies that does employment pre-screening - Plum.  If you can save even one poor fit hire, it is worth screening with a tool like Plum.

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And if you thought you had problems getting your luggage - check out the olympians returning home.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Disruptive Marketing book review

I read a book - Disruptive Marketing - What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers can Teach us about Navigating the New Normal by Geoffrey Colon.  (no - I did not make up the sub-title).

In short - I love it.  Partly I love it just because I love marketing.  But mostly I love it because Colon understands that marketing has changed and is changing.  The old time advertising model is dead.  people do not want to be interrupted.  Social media, and social interaction is the new normal.

Despite loving it, there was no clear answer on how to win in this new normal.  That part was not satisfying.

My favourite chapter was 12.  Learn, unlearn, relearn.   Earlier in the book, Colon had admonished people to not rely on their MBA or 30 years of experience.  The gist of chapter 12 is we need to be constant learners and as soon as we think we have learned something, we likely need to learn something different.

I liked a number of the quotes in the book (not only from the author but from other people).

"The most disruptive thing in the market is not technology, but rather the customer"  Tiffani Bova

"Adventure may hurt, but monotony will kill you"  Anon

"For every problem you are trying to solve, you should be asking more questions" Colon  In the same paragraph he talks about asking the question "what if".

"A true scare commodity is increasingly human attention"  Satya Nadella

"There is no failure in the new world of marketing - only learning" Colon

It was a great way for me to spend part of my weekend.  I am inspired (so now all the Danby staff will run away when they see me).

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I listened to a short audio book on Habit Stacking.  Not worth listening to because I will tell you the gist of the message.  I have used it for years.

To start a new good habit (assuming you do not want to start new bad habits) - stack it to one you already do.  For example - every time you brush your teeth - do the new habit before or after.  And you can continue to stack on a number of new habits.

Make a list of the regular habits you have - showering (at least I hope this is one of your habits), brushing your teeth, getting in the car, shaving, getting out of bed etc.  Make a list of the habits you want to stack - meditating, drinking (water that is), balancing on one leg, pushups, sit ups, deep breathing etc.  And simply stack the good habits on the other habits.

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And for those interested in decreasing risk of Alzheimers by 53% - a new diet.  Of course when you read about it, it really is just the same good diet that we have read about for years.
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And for the child in everyone - the executive colouring book that I thought was hilarious.




Thursday, August 11, 2016

Viral Coefficient in Social Media

I was approached by an entrepreneur who wanted to know how to make things go viral.  Actually he asked what are early signs that things might go viral.  The following is my reply.

I have occasionally experimented in how to make things go viral.  These same ideas apply to promoting a product like a book.

The obvious - develop a product with a viral co-efficient greater than 1 - meaning if you tell 100 people, you get more than 100 views or users.

My real life example.  I thought I would experiment with my Ted Talk (and the URL I point you to is not the original that had over 100,000 views).  I ended up with over a 10 times viral co-efficient when I sent a personal email to business friends.  For each one email, I got over 10 views.  But over time, that dropped because I was sending it to people I had less and less relationship to.  Eventually it went to less than 1.

One expression I always say is "light 1,000 fires".  A fire is anything that might start the ball rolling.  Examples(and certainly not a definitive list but a start):

1 - Do a blog entry on it.  Enlist other bloggers.
2 - Do a Linkedin update or aricle
3 - Facebook update
4 - Google Plus update (I think people still sometimes look at these)
5 - Do a Pinterest
6 - Send an email to a list or specific contacts
7 - Send a Tweet, tap your friends with a social media presence to help.
8 - do a snail mailing (they actually work again since email is deleted so quickly)
9 - for even better response send a personal note on the mailing.
10 - public speaking/presentations
11 - press release
12 - publish a white paper
13 - post about it on Quora
14 - Instagram
15 - Publish an article on eZine
16 - Do a flyer drop
17 - post handbills or signs
18 - advertise in papers, radio, TV, magazines etc
...
You get the idea.  Spread the word.  And of course all fires are not the same.  An article on my blog is not the same as an article in the NY Times (but over time, I think the NY Times can improve to be close).

And of course light many of these many times.  And track everything to figure out which ones work.  And you never really will know which one will cause something to go viral.

Part of what causes something to go viral is hitting the right target audience.  You may have a great product for 17 year olds in which case, try to light a fire where they are.  At the same time - especially during start up, you may think you know your target but it might be something different.  So try lots of everything.

With messaging services like Kik or a social media work out apps like Pumpup, a network effect can also kick (or kik) in.  Speaking of Kik - there is an interesting article on their bots.  The more people who use the service, the more people who will want to use it because there are more people connected.  It gets easier and easier to acquire users.

With productivity Apps like Gyst, there is some network effect in that more users will naturally tell others about it if they like it and are excited by it.

The formula gets complex though.  Viral things slow over time as all interested users use or view.  And with users, it is even more complex because it is all about keeping people using it.  Monthly Average Users is a key metric that people track.  So apps need to keep users interested so they remain active.  It is a constant push to add features, remind users, train users etc.

And part of success is about churn - how many users drop off over time.

And the topic of another blog post would be monetization.  Once you have users or views...now what.

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Olympics are on.  I do not follow them much.  Canada's Simon Whitfield and Brenda Irwin have some comment on their Relentless Blog.

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And just a reminder - save the world, save yourself - eating lentils is healthy for you.
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Inspired by my last blog on lighting fires without matches - my granddaughter with a tiny bit of assistance from her dad.


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

I have previously commented on negative interest rates.  It turns out they have the opposite to the intended effect - people save - not spend.  Interest article on it here.

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I was recently hiking on the beautiful Bruce Trail near Ancaster.  At the Sulphur Springs Rail stop information kiosk has a flyer for a kids summer camp.  It looked great:

Learn how to read maps.
Learn how to use a compass.
Learn how to make an emergency lean to.
Learn how to start a fire without matches.

Now I am thinking it looks perfect then:

Learn how to cook a hotdog over a fire.

Really?  I want to see the tough wilderness camper who has to stay in an emergency hand made shelter and make fire without matches who needs to know how to cook a hotdog over a fire.  Really - would you even be able to find a hotdog tree to get one in the first place if you were lost in the wilderness?

It reminded me of a satirical documentary about the pasta harvest.
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I read a book - Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High.  Interesting book.  I found I already employed many of the techniques suggested.

I liked the respect prayer "Lord help me forgive those who sin differently than I"

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Gamification

I have previously blogged about Bitcoin so was fascinated (and slightly distressed) that there was a $60,000,000 theft of them.

Someone once asked a bandit why they robbed the bank.  The answer "because that is where the money is".  So why Bitcoin?  Because that is where the money is.

It is distressing to see bad guys everywhere trying to disrupt things.

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I had blogged about pokemon and the possible health benefits.  Well the first story is out - a guy lost 25 pounds playing the game.

I believe in gamification.   I am a big believer in success habits.  I am thinking of ways to gamify more of those.

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Although I usually do not consider the Onion to be a definitive source of information, I think they may be right in the fighting skills of men.

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I am reading with interest about negative yield bonds.  I am just not smart enough to figure out why someone would want to buy them.  I know in our business, many companies choose to sell products for a loss which I guess is the comparable.  Again, I am not smart enough to understand why selling below cost is smart.

It reminds me of guy who thought he would make his fortune off change machines.  He bought machines that when someone put in a $5 bill spit out 5 loonies.  He set up 2 of them at the carwash and expectantly went to count the $5 bills in the machines.  Tallied it all up and said "darn - just breaking even.  I need more machines so I can do more volume".

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And to balance the world - Josh and Victoria.  You can tell - Josh particularly likes to sit still.  Good thing I work out so still have some arm strength left for holding my grandkids.


Monday, August 01, 2016

Pokemon comments, literacy and randomness

The garden is in full production I am enjoying bountiful harvests of herbs - thyme, basil, parsley, chives, tarragon etc.  And eating zucchini pancakes, soup, casserole, etc etc.   Poor tomato crop.  Fair bean crop.  Good beets and leeks.

Of course what is really going strong is crabgrass and most other weeds that seem persistent and resilient.  Thinking we could all learn lessons from them.  Perhaps I should author a book "Persist like a weed - how to keep growing despite setbacks".

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The bird feeder is attracting cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches and even grackles.  But the birds here are Mennonite.   I know that because they dislike having their picture taken (or I would have included them).  And I have never seen one driving a car.

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I am fascinated by consumer behaviour so am following the Pokemon Go craze with interest.  I like the idea of the game.  It is active and gets people off the couch.  It can be social and gets people interacting.  And it is not a shooting game.  So it all seems quite good.

I am not a gamer.  I just like the sociological study of them.

Where Pokemon may fail is as another device distraction.  People are having accidents through inattention.

It is interesting that one study says it has peaked.  It is also interesting how people are attached to the status quo already so object when changes are made as reported in this article.  Will have to see.

Trend or fad - we shall see.  Trying to figure out how to make a Danby Appliance trend.

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People do what they see other people do.  So the question is - is reading a paper good (intellectual stimulation) or bad (over promotion of bad news).

I suspect she is doing this because the little chat we had when I suggested she was hurting statistics in Ontario by being illiterate.  Speaking of literacy - there is an upcoming event at the Tannery put on by the The Literacy Group (TLG)



Monday, July 18, 2016

More Customers - More Calls

I always say more companies and people fail from perfection than speed.

Of course for some things, like surgery, I want perfection.

Lack of perfection can cost time.  For example - Danby sells about 2,000,000 appliances per year.  If 1% of the customers have problems or questions, that is 20,000 calls or emails.  My experience is if those are not resolved perfectly and in a timely manner, many people contact the CEO (That would be me).  So any lack of perfection in our process costs me time.   So it makes sense to polish the process.

I am a big believer in closed loop.  If someone calls us, figure out the why and change the product, the label, the packaging - whatever the problem is so there are less calls.  Now the challenge with that is the manuals can become tomes since there is always someone with a unique problem that you could add to the manual.  The catch 22 here is - the longer the manual - the less it gets read.

And with Danby's introduction of table top appliances like smoothie blenders, electric kettles etc, the number of customers will climb dramatically.  So perfect process it is...

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For those who greatly prefer email to texts (like me) because of the organization of it, I am enjoying using Gyst.  And yes, I invested in the company.

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I had previously written on Bitcoin so was fascinated by the huge Block Chain Heist.  It is a real story of intrigue.  2 videos on the topic here and here.
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And to counter balance all the worrisome things going on in the world, we have grandkids:






Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Impossible to Ignore

I read a great book by Carmen Simon, PhD called Impossible to Ignore - Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions.

Of course I love marketing and SEO.   Simon is a Cognitive Scientist.  I am not smart enough to know exactly what that is but she writes scientifically (which I love) with proper research.  Much of the approach to me echoes what a psychologist would do.

Some examples she speaks about:

1 - Using the power of surprise to get attention.

2 - Using cues and tying to emotion.

3 - Creating distinctiveness.

4 - Of course creating memorability.  I enjoy the many funny beer ads.  You can search them on Youtube.  But after watching a few, I am not sure which company is advertising so they may make me remember the ad but not the beer which was the real purpose.  Take for instance this one.

5 - Visuals can work in both getting attention and in creating memory.  I am thinking of using this in some Danby freezer promotion.  Have a picture of an old freezer and a stream of money flowing from it down a drain next to a new one with perhaps a penny.

Simon has the advantage of hindsight.  It is always easy to see what great Content worked.  As I read the book I am thinking what can I do and the answers do not always flow as easily.

One challenging thought she has is we should not always be succinct.  (challenging for me anyways since I always preach about the power of brevity)

From the book:

Short feels good but it is not always memorable.

If we aim for gist memory, the standards of length are looser.  We can get away with more content. as long as at least one main message is clear and we draw attention to it often.  And if the content is complex, we don't need to sacrifice all the complexity; we just need to ensure that we return frequently to that one main message we would like our audience to retain.

Good book - I enjoyed it.

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I had a great long weekend with family.  My brother posted this picture of himself with my granddaughter on facebook.  Such shameless posting - just for likes.


Friday, June 24, 2016

My 2 bits on Bitcoin and Brexit

I am highly worried about Brexit even though I buy nothing and sell nothing in England and rarely go there.  I have almost no interaction although I do know a few people who speak English.

I worry the ripple effect of the vote will cause a worldwide recession.  We are in delicate times and it does not take much to turn psychology.  A turn in psychology will cause a slowing which will cause a drop in oil price which will cause the Canadian $ to drop.

We live in an interconnected world.

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I had a private presentation by Alex Tapscott on his new book - Blockchain Revolution - How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World.  Then, of course, I read his book.

Bitcoin is likely to be big.  Block Chains will be bigger.  I behooves us to understand them.

Blockchains use distributed nodes like the internet.  They create a public ledger of transactions.  All transaction tie onto the previous one.  So it is perfect in tracking true ownership.  So it would work great in a land registry.  This makes it almost impossible to fraud since any change requires changing all previous parts of the chain which is almost impossible to do.

Bitcoin is based on Block Chain.  Block Chain is the technology - Bitcoin is the currency.

Every 4 years, the number of Bitcoins issued decreases by half.  Bitcoin tops out at 21,000,000 Bitcoins.  The argument can be made that this will make it an appreciating currency rather than a depreciating on.

One argument that is used both for and against Bitcoin is it is not controlled by the government.   The issue with currencies that are government controlled is they can just issue more currency and devalue what is now out there.  Governments generally dislike anyone but themselves issuing currency and there is a long history of stopping anyone else who tries to issue currency.  Of note - the creator of Bitcoin has not come forward but remains an anonymous pseudonym.  It will be interesting to see how Bitcoin plays out in that.

If I have issues with Bitcoin:

 1 - I still do not understand the math (and I have read much more about the topic than just this book). My experience is often things that are too complex to understand are not real or lacking.

2 - If I understand how it works - it uses complex calculations to slow things down so the proper priority registration can happen.  Right now, that takes a lot of computing power and electricity (so I object as an eco-dweeb) and I believe in Moore's law.  So it may soon not be viable since the methodology will not be slow enough.

3 - I worry that digital methodologies will get obsoleted over time.  For example, I had VCR tapes of my kids playing and converted them to CD but will I even be able to play those in another decade?  So might the money be lost?  While we are on that topic, I still have hundreds of audio cassettes of my first book Time Leadership - Using the Secrets of Leadership for Time Management" - I am thinking of putting them on sale.

4 - I worry it could be a bit of a Ponnzi.  Early entrants get Bitcoins cheap so want others to use the currency that becomes scarcer and scarcer which makes the value increase.  But it could be like tulip bulbs.

Tapscott has sections in his book where he denigrates the "middlemen".  As someone who has been a middleman all my life, I believe middlemen add value.  Where they should be cut out is where the charges for the value are not fair.  And the middleman business is highly competitive so people are always figuring out ways to reduce their costs.  Still sometimes I wish I were more of an Oscar Meyer Weiner (so everyone would be in love with me)

One of my friends, Mark Jeftovic from EasyDNS had sent me a related provocative audio book on commerce and money - "A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating jobs for All The Future Belongs to Work that is Meaningful" by Charles Hugh Smith (If I were Charles Smith, I would use my middle name too).   You would have thought they could have come up with a longer title.  Mark and I had discussed the future of payments and money.

I have always thought the best way to make money was to start a government or a religion now I add to that - a currency.

Speaking of government - Danby got a license to use the Canada 150 year logo and included in it was a clause that we cannot represent ourselves as being the government.  So instead of sending out those tax bills like I had planned, we will just have to sell more freezers.

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Loving Audible and love the speed up feature.  I listen to books at +20% so a 5 hour book takes me only 4 hours.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Bullet Journal

I really do not have original ideas.  Even my Ted Talk emphasized that.  The next 2 concepts were emailed to me by friends.  Thanks!

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I love technology...and I don't.  So I was very impressed with the Bullet Journal concept.  I have been using a system like this for years which I simply evolved for myself.  EG - I have a series of symbols I use to indicate things like "send an email".  

The Bullet Journal has a well thought out system (way better than what I do - and better thought out).  So no point in sharing my system which is not as comprehensive.

The video on the Bullet Journal page is worth watching.

Let me know in a month if you continue to use this system.

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There is a great article in HBR on the inefficiency of email.    The compelling title is "Some Companies are banning email to improve Productivity"!

One line I love in the article - "email as a new form of knowledge pollution".

I know email can distract.   I also know it can contribute to "busy work" at the detriment of accomplishing larger and more important things.

I think rather than killing email, it is best to develop killer systems for managing the volume.  Simple disciplines like blocking no-email times and only checking email at specific times.  Email is still more efficient that phoning or speaking to someone.  I once read a stat that a person could do 7 times more email than phone conversations.  I think even that is low.

Send me an email with your thoughts on this article.

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And the gardens are growing:


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

What is in a Tag Line? Do the Right Thing

I recently read a book (big surprise) that had a list of taglines and that got me thinking.  Do taglines work if they are just words?  Or does the company have to do something to earn the right to their tagline?

In some cases, I think just having the tagline works - when it is in sync with what we think the company is.  For example:

Just do it - Nike (they stole that one from me before I thought of it)
Quality never goes out of style - Levi
Challenge everything - EA (Genius for a video game company)
Live in your world, play in ours - Playstation
The greatest tragedy is indifference - Red Cross

Some that resonate less with me:

There is no substitute - Porsche  (well actually there is - for example a Prius.  And if you want a sports car, go with a red Prius like me).



Between love and madness lies obsession - Calvin Klein (I did not know madness was the opposite of love and is obsession really a good thing?  I think that is why they invented the restraining order and 12 step programs)

When you care enough to send the best  - Hallmark  (I hate to say it, if that's the best you have...)

I'm loving it - McDonalds (do I really need to comment?)

Open Happiness - Coca Cola (is sugar, cavities, obesity really that happy?)

Interestingly, the taglines I did not know - McDonalds and Coke resonated the least.

I did just do a blog entry mentioning all these companies by name so they get the free press and massive surge in business that will result.  So in that sense - taglines work.

For Danby and DDE Media the tagline or mantra is "We Do the Right Thing".   We came up with this after being repeatedly asked why the Syrian thing?  Obviously - because we do the right thing.  And in business, it applies to almost everything.  How do you treat co-workers?  How do you treat customers?  Is the product good value?  etc.  It can be used to answer almost any question.

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People often approach me for investment advice.  This is what I currently suggest:


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Damned Nations and Standing Desks

I read a book today by Dr. Samantha Nutt MD - Damned Nations - Greed, Guns, Armies and Aid.

It was captivating.  Scary and depressing in parts but also hopeful.

Nutt understands the complexity of the problem.  She has traveled to war torn areas frequently.  She founded the charity - War Child.

Good book - worth reading.

At the same time, I am listening to The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley.  Well not actually doing it at the same time (Multitasking does not work).  Ridley talks about the correlation between peace and commerce.  When people do business together, there tends to be peace.  When you look at a map of the troubled areas - they are those which lack robust trading economies.

As a businessperson, I actually think commerce can help.  Of course it has to be done fairly.

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 I am enjoying the weather in Ontario.  OK - I now have a conflict of interest.  Danby sells portable and window air conditioners.  It is a business of feast and famine.  Either the business is out of product or ends up the season with a warehouse full of them.

Of course Danby is not just in Ontario.  Sales are spread through North America (and a bit in Mexico).  So real sales are not determined by one geographic area, it is a combination.  EG - I was in Vancouver on Friday and got caught in a cool rain storm.

It is not a matter of average temperatures.  It is a matter of extremes combined with number of days.  And humidity also helps.
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Success Habit of the day - listen to audiobooks when driving and sometimes when walking.  The reason only sometimes is silence is also good sometimes.  We have to be careful not to make our time 100% busy or we cannot be creative.  We need time to reflect.

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And a promo video.

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Researcher claim a 46% increase in productivity for using a standing desk.  I wish it was that simple.  I use a standing desk on and off and have not found this increase in productivity.  I do it for the health benefit.

Still - interesting study.


Monday, May 16, 2016

The Trusted Executive

I read a book by John Blakey - The Trusted Executive - Nine Leadership Habits that Inspire Results, Relationships and Reputation.

I like the title since I like habits.  And distilling a complex topic into 9 things sounds attractive.

The book leads with a section on why executives want to be trusted.  I recall a speech I heard recently by the CEO of Ace Hardware, John Vanhuizen (and getting to know him a bit, I would call him a trusted executive).  He said (paraphrased) "CEOs and business people are not trusted and not as important as we like to think".  He was speaking to a room of CEOs and business people.  We see this by the occupy Wall Street movement.  Given the environment, it makes sense to study more how to be trusted.

The habits are broken down into 3 pliiars - Habits of Ability, Habits of Integrity and Habits of Benevolence.  I will not share all of the 9 habits but will mention a few:

One habit is the habit to be open.  Consistent open communications build trust.  This includes having a healthy mutual respect.  The book says "choose to be open" so it is a choice.

I love the habit but as a time management person struggle with how to do this well.  In person is always best.  Repeated, as long as it is not boring helps.  Multi-channel helps - face to face, email, webex, call etc.

Most of the habits seem fairly easy and come naturally - humility, kindness, honesty.  Some like braveness take more.  I suspect each leader will have their own easy and difficult ones.

I know self knowledge is a key to good leadership and suspect that helps a lot with being trusted.

In business, our ethic at Danby and DDE Media is "we do the right thing".  This seems to flow straight from the book although at the time we came up with that, I had not read the book.

Good book.

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Danby got some good press in Huffington Post.

I published an article on Linkedin on Irrational Customers.

I enjoyed walking in the woods on the weekend in Quebec.  Lots of trilliums - must be Ontario immigrants.  My mom used to take us out in the spring when we were young.  She is an amateur naturalist.  I came to enjoy it (even if it was cold and a bit rainy when I was out this weekend).  Good memories.




Monday, May 09, 2016

It is all about the little things

I like to garden.  Perhaps I should have figured out that I have hay-fever before I took it up.  That is the only downside except for the occasional sore back caused only by myself - by lifting wrong.

Connecting with nature has health benefits according to Huffington Post.  I know I track my steps with a Fitbit and it gives me about the same credit as a stroll but for some reason I get much sorer gardening.

Early this morning was gorgeous.  I could still see my breath as I dug in the garden.  The garden has weeds which thrive as always.  I often wish my vegetables would thrive as well as the weeds do.

I like pulling the big weeds - it is gratifying to see the pile of weeds grow.  They make the garden look nice, quickly.  And they are easy to see.  What I do not enjoy as much is pulling the little ones.  But history has taught me, lots of little weeds grow to big weeds and choke out the vegetables.

So my analogy for business and life.  It is not the big things that make all the difference - it is mostly about the little things.

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I read a book "The Optimistic workplace - Creating an Environment that Energizes Everyone" by Shawn Murphy.  I was worried from the title that it would be all about rah rah and pep talks.  Or worse yet,  I would have to smile.

Fortunately, Murphy is more practical than soft platitudes.  He talks about "good" culture being welcoming, curious, social and thoughtful.  All things a company can work on.

Since I am a work ethic guy, I loved one line "Optimistic cultures believe good things will happen if they work hard".

Murphy talks about the contagiousness of attitude.  And that starts with the leader.  Fortunately, I am naturally optimistic.  If anything does not work out or is not working, I know we just need to make a few changes.  What I am not sure of is - can people become optimistic?

Murphy supplies an appendix to help leaders build their own 90 day plan (I love 90 day plans).

Murphy agrees that companies that "serve" the world thrive.  So he would like the Danby Appliance culture of "we do the right thing".

I also know the best way to create optimism is to have success.  Successful companies are great places to work.

Off to create more optimism...

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Kids always help optimism.  (note the Shakespeare duck - indoctrination by his Shakespeare prof mom)




Tuesday, May 03, 2016

My favourite time management trick - the Pomodoro System

I have not been able to bring myself to blog since the death of my nephew.   Zafer would have wanted us to live life so I am back blogging.

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I have previously blogged about the Pomodoro system.   It is simple.  Set the timer for 25 minutes and work all out on the task at hand.  No emails or calls.  No one is offended if my door is closed for 25 minutes or if I do not get back to them for 25 minutes.

A friend asked me what tricks I might have to make the Pomodoro system work better.  He was simply not getting enough Pomodoro's done for the time lapsed.  On paper it seems you can do 2 per hour and have a 5 minute break every 25 minutes.  In practise, I have never been able to do this for more than a couple of hours.

Doing 8 pomodoros in a 10 hour day is tough.  Some ideas:

1 - Have a list of "easier" things to do.  So I often do a tough pomodoro followed by an easy one.

2 - I close my email window, stock prices and phone off (or silent mode).  Realistically, no one will be offended if I get back to them a few minutes later.  Sometimes I am expecting a call so do not do that one.

3 - Exercise helps me.  So a brisk walk - even some pushups tends to help my focus.  (you know me - exercise helps everything).

4 - Being rested helps.  I have high focus on days where I slept well the night before.

These last 2 things remind me of the routine chess masters do.  A chess master friend, AJ Steigman emailed me the link.

5 - although technically the system is 25 minutes then 5 minute break then 25 minutes, I usually do 25 minutes then 35 minutes of "catch up work" like email.

6 - If I have bigger projects, especially when I am energized early in the day, I switch to a 35 minute Pomodoro.  I know technically that is not the program but...

Good luck with your Pomodoros.

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I always love marketing.  KW record had an article that confirms that startups that focus on marketing win.   I also did another Linkedin Post on "Excuses to Market".

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tribute to Zafer Estill

It is with great difficulty, I share this post about the passing of my 19 year old nephew Zafer Estill.

Thursday night after midnight I was called my my distraught brother, Lyle who shared the terrible news that his son was dead.  I could hardly understand what he was saying.  I did not want to understand it.

His obituary is here.

A promising young man whose life was cut short.

He was polite, kind and interested in life.  Because he knew I liked business, when we were together, he talked about business.  I thought he had potential to be a great business person because of his natural interest.

I recall once he did a run of tshirts and sold them for $20 US each.  Even for uncle Jim, this margin seemed a bit much.  But I was visiting and he was away.  I took one from his stash and left a $20 bill.  How better to support a budding business person than buying their product.

I remember him reading Business Week magazine that my father had on his coffee table.

The photo is from a few years ago but of course I remember him as a child.

Now to cry...


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Big Plans

I had a birthday this week and my brother asked me if I had big plans.  The reply was "of course I have big plans - I always have big plans regardless of whether it is my birthday or not."

Reflecting on how often those big plans come to fruition, I note that they often don't.  But because I have plans, I get closer to them than not having big plans.  Big plans inspire.  Big plans create drive.  And as the word plan says - it implies defining the goal.  The clearer the definition, the greater the likelihood of success.

The challenge with big plans or goals is they can be daunting so the trick I find that works is breaking them down into smaller steps.  How do you climb a mountain?  One step at a time.

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I have rarely had an article go viral.  I republished one that I wrote many years ago on my linkedin that did.  Over 1,000,000 views.  "How to write an article in 20 minutes".
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A friend is solving the Guelph housing problem and needs tenants.  Website gives details.

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The ice is gone but it is still not spring.

 Note the wind turbine.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Blogger Guilt

I feel guilty when I do not blog.  But is am wondering - is this really something to be guilty about?

The reason for not posting is usually time pressure but sometimes it is creativity.  So for creativity - I welcome any ideas you would like me to blog about.

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I posted an article on Linkedin on easy video marketing.   I believe in video for marketing but am not a real consumer of video (No TV does that).

I like the Linkedin publishing platform.  Open rate is still fairly low.  100-200 people read a post out of 5,000 connection.

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I love Simon Sinek's thinking.  I just re-read his book - Start with the Why.

And I was thinking what would a good why be for Danby and DDE Media?   The how and what of selling appliances, doing SEO are not inherently noble.

So I thought about the many interviews I have done on the Syrian refugees and why I am sponsoring 50 families.  There is a humanitarian crisis.  So "I do the right thing".

So at Danby and DDE Media, our Why will be "We do the right thing".  On a micro level, it works.  We treat each other well and with respect.  We produce good product at fair prices.  We don't spend $10,000 if we can do it for $2,000.  We do not spend 40 hours doing a 5 hour job.  But mostly, it resonates at the macro level.  We do the right thing for the world.  Appliances and SEO just allow us to do that.

Tied to this - a study revealed ethical bosses produce ethical staff.  I am not seeing a lot of my staff becoming vegetarian or even putting up solar panels.  But I do believe the study result so...we do the right thing.

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My favourite workout is still the 7 minute workout.  I have an app on my phone that counts it down and tells me what to do.  Business Insider did an article that it actually works so hope they are right.

I find the 7 minute workout a bit light on abs so I like to throw in a couple of ab exercises before starting.  The toughest parts for me are the side planks at the end (I know, they are abs).  And the spiral pushups.

What I would like to see is a couple of other 7 minute workouts along the same lines.  To work out other muscle  groups.  To allow for recovery between working out muscles.

I will never substitute this 7 minute workout for my fitness routine but it is a great addition.

Best days for me are 2-3 ab exercises, 7 Minute Workout, some curls and tricep work with dumbells followed by 30 minutes cardio followed by 7 Minute workout again.    It is awesome - can hardly move after that.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Triggers for Productivity

I find I am productive or not based on triggers.

For me, one of my best triggers is working out.  When I start my day with a good workout (like today), I tend to be more productive all day.  I even tend to eat smarter.  Productivity is higher.  A simple workout triggers much positive in my days.

Another positive trigger is taking a walk outside.  Even a short walk is a good pick me up.

Yesterday I did go to the gym but I forgot my shoes so I skipped my work out and sure enough, my day was not productive.

Another negative trigger for me is being tired.  When I am tired, I tend to not get much done.  And worse, I often stay awake rather than sleep!  Another is playing internet bridge or chess.  Easy to slip into non-productivity.

The easiest way for me to gain momentum - positive or negative is to know my triggers and do them or avoid them.

Identifying what your triggers are can help improve productivity.

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I re-published an article on all press being good press.  Seems my mind is on marketing today (like most days)
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Thinking I should try sitting like this...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spurt to Work

Danby has a factory in Findlay, Ohio  (and we are soon opening one in Mobile, Alabama).  The drive to Findlay from Guelph is about 5 hours.  I usually visit there on Monday - ideally on a Canadian holiday.  Being there on Monday lets me drive down on Sunday.

I take it leisurely.   I drive for 45 minutes then stop.  Take a short walk and open my computer and work on projects.  I work in spurts.

I find these short spurts of work interspersed with drive time really increases my productivity and creativity.  While driving, I usually listen to audio books.  Usually ones on marketing or psychology but recently I also enjoyed "the Big Short" - the story of the meltdown of the subprime mortgage and housing market in the US.  Captivating listen.

The tempo of drive, walk, work seems to work well.  Perhaps I should try it when I am not driving anywhere.

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I read an interesting article on impressions in marketing.   The thesis was this should be the measure of any social media campaign.  What the article did not speak about was things like frequency vs reach (most marketers believe more frequency beats more reach).  Social media is perfect for frequency since they people you are connected to or your followers see what you broadcast repeatedly.

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I continue to get good traction on my Linkedin articles.   My article on increasing self discipline - increasing energy has over 100 views.  This is the same as increasing marketing impact.  Too early but I just did one on Momentum in Marketing.