Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

4 Great Reads for Creating Simplicity and Habit Building

December 13th, 2011 Comments off

2011 was one of my top years for consuming non-fiction writing.  Over the course of the year, I read over 20 non-fiction books.  Topics ranged from personal achievement, leadership, management, writing, to more esoteric topics such as minimalism.

Simplicity & Habit Building

As I looked at the list of books I most enjoyed this past year, I started to notice two distinct themes drawing my attention:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Leveraging habits to create long-term success

Books that most influenced me in 2011

Out of all of the books I read, the following books (in no particular order) have really shaped my thinking:

  • Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System
  •  Rework
  •  The Habit Factor: An Innovative Method to Align Habits with Goals to Achieve Success
  •  18 Minutes : Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done

I’ve always had a passion for keeping my focus clear and simple.  Rework in particular, outlined some great organizational strategies for keeping work and business simple.  Zen to Done offered some great ideas on keeping personal focus simple and straight forward.

From a habit perspective, I’ve really latched on the concept of achieving greater success by focusing on habits vs. goals.  Habits and goals are NOT mutually exclusive.  However, I’ve found by focusing my time and energy on working on the right habits (each day/week), I can achieve my goals faster.  I’m also able to build long term, sustainable success through changing my behavior.  The Habit Factor and 18 Minutes both focused on building successful habits and routines.

Everyone Can Benefit From These Books

These books are great reads for managers and non-managers alike.  I found I can take the concepts learned in these books and apply them personally, as well as through the lens of a manager and coach.

Whether you are trying to build the right habits to be a better manager, or create the right organizational habits to achieve customer success – the concepts apply equally.  The same can be said for creating simplicity.

Most of these books are quick reads and worthy of your time.

Regardless of if you read these books or not.  I do encourage you to read to get new perspectives and ideas.  There is so much information and so little time to consume it!  Happy reading!

Creating 30 Day Challenges For Success

July 13th, 2011 4 comments

I was recently checking out Ted Talks and came across this short (yet awesome) video clip (3m27sec) of Matt Cutts (Google dude).  Matt shares his perspective on setting and achieving goals through 30 Day Challenges.  While the concept is not new, it’s a great reminder on breaking down goals into something that’s manageable and achievable – 30 Day Challenges.  The idea is if you break down goals into measurable habits, which you can work at daily, then you begin to establish a pattern of living that ultimately leads you closer to your goals.  Popular thinking says it takes 30 days to establish a new habit, thus the 30 Day Challenge.


What does this mean as a manager?

First of all, I believe any self-development is good for a manager.  Where this can get interesting is when you apply these same concepts organizationally.

Here’s an idea…. Create a 30 Day Challenge program for your team(s).  Think about areas you want your organization to improve in.  Determine a habit that can be put into practice daily (which can also be measured).  Then offer incentives to teams or individuals who meet the 30 Day Challenge objective. You could even have your team(s) compete for top challenge honors (i.e. whoever does the most or best at the challenge).  Whether the award is monetary, a fun “gag gift” or simply for bragging rights – incentives are a great way to engage and recognize people for stepping up to the challenge.  And as an organization – you quickly see that by creating the right challenges, your teams will establish the right habits for success.

QUESTION:  What 30 Day Challenges do think would work in the work place?  How can you make them fun (and valuable)?

Building Moats for Success

March 28th, 2011 Comments off

Warren Buffett is considered one of the greatest thinkers of all time.  He has made billions of dollars through savvy and well thought out strategies, to capitalize on what others do not consider.

He beleives the reason for his success in beating the competition is through the concept of “building moats.”

In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Jay-z & Warren Buffett sat down for an hour interview and covered a variety of topics (see entire interview).  This two minute clip that stood out, was Warren’s advice to Jay-Z about building personal moats.

Warren’s Key Points

  1. The best moats are your own talent
  2. Invest time to build and develop the right set of talents
  3. Develop habits of success
  4. Look at role models to determine the right talents and habits

Building Moats for Managers

What I found interesting, is Warren discusses this concept from the perspective of self-development and building personal moats.  However, after watching this clip, there is something to be gained by looking at these same concepts through the lens of a manager.

As a manager, what can you gain from this?

  1. People are the greatest assets to building competitive moats
  2. Help your people build and develop the right talents to gain competitive advantages
  3. Organizations must also build habits of success (e.g., fiscal responsibility, employee development, innovation, execution, etc.)
  4. Look to “role model” companies/organizations to determine the right habits

QUESTION:  How are you building moats to separate yourself from the competition?

Become a Better Manager – Read More!

March 14th, 2011 Comments off

MagicBookThere are many ways to develop managers and leaders outside of the classroom.  In fact in my post, Creating Well Constructed Employee Development Plans, I outline self-study as one the four develop opportunities to help with employees.  As managers, we must also develop ourselves, and one way to do this is through reading books on management & leadership.

If you are reading this, I probably don’t have to convince you reading is a good thing.  But why is it so good and more importantly – why should reading be a habit of successful managers?  Read more…

10 Successful Habits to Leadership Excellence

February 28th, 2011 Comments off

Like most things, success is a matter of mastering the right habits!  Looking at a number of successful leaders from the past (and the present), most have these 10 common habits.

1. Your Attitude Defines You – Having a “can do” and positive attitude is critical to success.  Alternatively, a negative attitude is like a cancer and can easily spread to your team and organization.  The good news – a positive attitude is contagious too.  Ultimately, attitude is a choice! Choose wisely, and you can impact your people in a positive way!

2. Take Time to Think – All too often we engage in reactive thinking.  The most successful leaders also engage in reflective thinking. Whether it’s strategic thinking, big picture thinking, creative thinking, or focused thinking – successful leaders set aside time to ask themselves questions to flush-out their own thoughts.  This process ensures they’re taking everything into consideration when dealing with the “now” or the “future.” 

3. Decide What You Really Want to Accomplish – All leaders know what they want to achieve.  Writing down goals and developing plans to achieve them, put purpose in action, as well as create a scorecard to measure yourself.

4. Take Massive Action – Words without action are nothing but words.  Action is ultimately what will drive achievement.   Successful leaders ensure they are constantly moving forward.  Defining next actions, then rigorously going for it are a daily practice.  This is arguably the most important habit of successful leaders.

5. Laser Focus Your Time and Money – Successful leaders are often maniacal in their focus.  There is no greater way to ensure focus, than by committing time and budget to the most important things.  Successful leaders ensure each day has time blocked off to focus at least one critical goal.  They also ensure the dollars they spend are allocated to achieve their key objectives.

6. Never Give-up – As with any BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), even successful leaders may stumble.  The key to success is pushing past failures, learning from mistakes and continuing to go for it.  While leaders may alter their tactics, they continue to focus on achieving the end goal despite the set-backs.

7. Learn to Communicate with People Effectively – Leaders lead people.  Successful leaders are able to communicate their vision simply and clearly.  They possess the ability to motivate and influence others to rally around a common purpose.  Whether it is through writing, presenting or speaking – successful leaders are able to recognize their audience and communicate effectively in all forms.

8. Be Willing to Analyze, Observe and Correct Course – Perseverance is a critical characteristic for success.  However, stubbornness and ignorance are not so good.  Successful leaders are able to step-back to understand the details, get all of the facts, collaborate when needed, as well as learn from their mistakes.  Having the confidence to know when and how to correct course can mean the difference between failure and success. 

9. Keep Learning– Self-development and quest for knowledge is the hallmark of great leaders.  Whether through classroom learning, mentorship, reading or some other medium, the learning process enables leaders to grow and further innovate.

10.  Be Authentic – Successful leaders say what they mean and do what they say.  Without this, the other nine habits are meaningless.

QUESTION: What other habits have you found were critical in your success as a leader?

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Lead Change Group: Leaders Developing Leaders!

February 25th, 2011 Comments off

A few weeks ago, I connected with the Lead Change Group.  The vision of this group is, “to create a global, virtual community dedicated to instigating a leadership revolution.”  It’s a great community, with a fantastic mission – Leaders developing leaders!!

I recently became one of their contributing authors.  You can check out my recent post  – Givers Gain – A Leader’s Perspective on Getting the Most Out of Giving. While you are there, check out some of the other great authors on their Leadership Development blog.

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The Right Way to Fail At Work

February 21st, 2011 Comments off


thumbs upI’ve often been asked the question… Do managers really think it’s OK for someone to fail at something?  I’ve recently spent time pondering this very question.  It wasn’t until I came across a blog post,More Bloggers Need to Fail, that the answer became clear. 

And the answer is (drum roll please…….) – YES & NO.

Let me explain..

John from TentBlogger put it nicely.  There are two types of failure:

  1. Passive
  2. Active
    Let’s cover each in more detail to better understand what type of failure might be more acceptable than the other (bet you can never guess which is which). Read more…
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